This rewatch was the most I’ve ever enjoyed Up, Up and Away! I don’t remember seeing too much of the film growing up, so it was nice to give it another try. The story is rather unique and requires suspension of disbelief. But hey, that’s true of every fantasy DCOM.
Robert Townsend directed and starred in the movie, and his character is a superhero dad: Jim Marshall aka Bronze Eagle. The mom, Judy Marshall aka Warrior Woman, was played by Alex Datcher. Scott Marshall (played by Michael J. Pagan) is their middle child who waits for his superpowers to arrive. The eldest son is Adam Marshall aka Silver Charger (Kasan Butcher, whom I see frequently in early Malcolm in the Middle episodes); he has super speed and can zap his way through electronic systems. Little sister Molly has x-ray vision and can torch up a barbecue with her heat vision. We also see Sherman Hemsley as the grandfather, Edward Marshall aka the Steel Condor.
It’s a great cast, with a script by Dan Berendsen, prolific DCOM writer (this was his first of 11!). Also of note, Melissa Joan Hart’s mom, Paula Hart, was an executive producer.
Right away, this movie made me think of Sky High because Will Stronghold and Scott Marshall have something in common. They both have superhero parents and are waiting for their own powers to arrive. Will eventually gets super strength and can fly; Scott claims to get those same powers, but he’s lying to try to make his parents happy.
Scott’s plan was a bad move. His family throws him this big superhero party when they think Scott has gotten his powers, but then he is called on to actually use them when a woman gets stuck in a multi-story burning building. Scott is sent tor rescue her, and that’s a much more difficult task when you’re not a superhero. He manages to get the woman to the exterior of the building, but his dad has to swoop in and save both of them in the end.
The whole thing was a ruse. The woman in the building was Nina, a computer programmer who has developed mind control software to get kids to recycle; she calls it “Earth Protectors.” Nina’s partner in crime, Malcolm, set the building on fire so that the Marshalls would have to rescue Nina. Malcolm’s goal is to capture the Marshalls and drain their power so that they can’t stop the mind control operation. He eventually succeeds and takes Scott’s parents and brother into captivity, after a neighborhood mom robs a bank under Malcolm’s influence. Scott and his friends go to save them. There’s a lot of saving in this movie, I noticed.
The superheroes’ powers are being drained by aluminum foil, so there’s not much time to stop the villains. But with a little ingenuity and a soccer ball, the kids shut down the mind control scheme. Nina tried to make things right and help them; she realizes that she can’t force people to recycle after all. Scott and his friend Amy realize they like each other. Unfortunately, Scott’s parents have to wipe everyone’s memories to preserve the superhero secrecy. On the bright side, Scott’s friend Randy is allowed to remember it all so that Scott will have someone to talk to about everything.
A lot happens in this movie: bank robberies, computer hypnotism, soccer games, superhero stuff. I give it credit for such a unique story, and I can appreciate the distinctly early-2000s angle with the computer software. The Disney Channel was really into computers and the Internet during this time period, and when you think about it, that vignette comes into play in a few DCOMs. I would give this one a try!