With tongue in cheek and gentle humor, "Up, Up and Away" follows the adventures of the Marshall family, who seem like any nice suburban family, but are, in fact, superheroes, which is a genetic trait. Nice light tone keeps "Up" from sinking, and cast, under star Robert Townsend's sure comedic direction, plays it just right.

With tongue in cheek and gentle humor, “Up, Up and Away” follows the adventures of the Marshall family, who seem like any nice suburban family, but are, in fact, superheroes, which is a genetic trait. Nice light tone keeps “Up” from sinking, and cast, under star Robert Townsend’s sure comedic direction, plays it just right. Disney Channel original may keep the whole family in one spot for the first hour, but cardboard villains and tired plot may instigate some channel surfing later.

The critical 14th birthday of Scott Marshall (Michael J. Pagan) is swiftly approaching, and so far, he has not exhibited any superpowers — if he doesn’t have any powers by then, he’s not going to develop any at all. Even his bratty little sister has laser vision (which she uses to light the barbecue). Needless to say, Scott is extremely disappointed that he won’t be able to join the family business.

At the same time, Nina (Olivia Burnette) has written software that brainwashes adolescents, and her company, Earth Protectors, donates computers and software to Scott’s entire eighth-grade class. But rather than brainwashing them into buying Britney Spears CDs (oh, sorry, that’s already happened), they’re told to recycle, eat tofu and protect the environment. But Nina’s cohort, Malcolm (Kevin Connolly), has other ideas after he sees the program’s success, and he hijacks the software in order to make billions.

The Marshalls, in superhero mode, are lured into a trap set by Malcolm, but Scott, using his normal-powered brain, saves the day.

It’s a funny premise — the superhero family — that works quite well, especially at Scott’s birthday party (a sort of superhero Bar Mitzvah) with all the guests being other superheroes. Townsend keeps the pace steady and the scenes with the family funny in a sweetly goofy way, yet there’s only so much he can do with the hackneyed villains and story resolution.

Tech credits are pro.

Up, Up and Away

Disney Channel; Jan. 22; 9 p.m.

Production

Filmed in Canada by Hartbreak Films; Executive producer, Paula Hart; producer, Harvey Frand; co-producer, Dan Berendsen; director, Robert Townsend; writer, Berendsen.

Crew

Camera, Danny Nowak; editor, John L. Price; production design, Douglas Higgins; music, David Michael Frank; sound, Bob Newlan; casting, Judy Taylor, Allison Kohler.

Cast

Jim/Bronze Eagle - Robert Townsend Scott - Michael J. Pagan Judy/Woman Warrior - Alex Datcher Edward/Steel Condor - Sherman Hemsley Adam/Silver Charge - Kasan Butcher Molly - Arreale Davis Doris - Joan Pringle Randy - Christopher Marquette Amy - Jamie Renee Smith Nina - Olivia Burnette Malcolm - Kevin Connolly With: Nancy Sorel, Benhita Ha, Jim Smith, Ty Olsson, Craig March, Mitch Kosterman, Derek Lee, Scott Owen
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