By now you’ve surely heard that Disney has a new streaming service on the way that is definitely going to be a huge game changer in the industry. Not only will it be the home for new releases from Walt Disney Studios, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel, but it will also feature brand new original series and films. Fantastic. However, for us ’90s Disney kids there are a few other things we want to see on the service including the Golden Era of Disney Channel series (I’m talking Even Stevens and Lizzie McGuire) and the iconic Disney Channel Original Movies…aka the DCOMs.
There was no better feeling than the euphoria that hit you when that film reel intro came on and hopefully Disney+ will give us the ability to revisit them whenever we want! So, let’s take a trip down memory lane and prepare ourselves for the nostalgic goodness hopefully heading our way when Disney+ becomes available this November.
10. Jumping Ship
This may be a controversial pick, but the Lawrence brothers were kind of a big deal on Disney Channel back in the day, so it would be a crime to not include them on this list. Jumping Ship found all three brothers on screen together in this hilariously random island and pirate adventure film.
9. Luck of the Irish (2001)
In theory, this movie about a family of leprechauns who had kept their identities a secret by passing as humans thanks to a magic gold coin should have been the worst movie ever. However, somehow Disney managed to turn it into a heartfelt family film that touched on the some of the struggles Irish immigrants faced in America. Plus, it was gospel that any DCOM starring Ryan Merriman was going to be a winner. While the movie definitely tends to fall more on the silly side of the spectrum, it does have some pretty sweet Riverdance scenes and a great evil leprechaun in Timothy Omundson.
8. Johnny Tsunami (1999)
Somehow Disney managed to make a pretty good film about surfing and snow sports all in one. When surfer-brah Johnny Kapahala is forced to move from his Hawaiian home to Vermont, he has to find a way to transform his sick moves on the waves to the powder. In doing so he manages to kick off a classic turf war between the skiers and the snowboarders. Johnny Tsunami also had a pretty solid supporting cast with other DCOM staples such as Kristen Storms (Zenon) and Lee Thompson Young (Jett Jackson).
7. Cadet Kelly (2002)
Some of the best DCOMs featured stars from popular Disney Channel shows and Cadet Kelly is the ultimate example of this. They had Lizzie McGuire‘s Hilary Duff playing a heightened version of Lizzie McGuire and Even Stevens’ Christy Carlson Romano as a heightened version of Ren Stevens at George Washington Military Academy. The movie is filled with some classic DCOM moments such as the thrilling cliff scene and the epic ‘dance off’ at the end, but it also touched on step-parents, unlikely friendships, and pushing yourself to places you never thought you could. Not to mention is also starred Shawn Ashmore and Gary Cole, so it was bound to be a hit.
6. Double Teamed (2002)
While Double Teamed certainly had its flaws, AKA its somewhat suggestive title and the fact that the actors playing the Burge twins looked nothing like each other, it is still a standout to this day. It told the true story of WNBA twin sisters Heather and Heidi Burge and was a nice change of pace as a more dramatic and grown-up entry in the DCOM catalog.
5. Smart House (1999)
DCOM staple Ryan Merriman is back on the list again because he was in Smart House and Smart House was a true cinematic masterpiece. In addition to Merriman, it starred Katy Sagal as a 1999 version of Siri for houses, named Pam, that little girl who played the little sister in every DCOM, and that guy who played the dad in every DCOM (see below).
It’s also worth mentioning that Smart House had not one, not two, but three dance scenes, which for a futuristic family film was completely unnecessary but totally appreciated.
4. Halloweentown (1998)
Even though there ended up being four movies in the Halloweentown franchise, none of them were able to quite live up to the original. It starred Kimberly J. Brown as the charming young witch Marnie and the always fantastic Debbie Reynolds as her wise and loving witchy grandmother, who let’s face it, you totally wanted to be your grandmother as well. It is still one of the best Halloween movies to date and even though the CGI is a tad questionable along with some other creative choices, the movie is practically timeless. So, let’s all just forget about that time they swapped Brown for Sara Paxton like we wouldn’t notice and head back to OG Halloweentown.
3. Motocrossed (2001)
Motocrossed was a badass movie about a girl named Andi Carson who just wanted to race dirtbikes, but couldn’t because well…she was a girl. It’s basically the prequel to the spectacular film that is She’s the Man. Once you get past the fact that it should have been 100% obvious to literally everyone that Andi Carson was a girl pretending to be her twin brother, the movie was another awesome tick in the Disney extreme sports movie belt and actually had a great message and a really awesome supporting cast…Riley Smith ringing any bells for anyone?
2. Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century (1999)
It was hard not to love Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. It was fun, quirky, original and introduced us all to Protozoa, need I say more? The movie followed Zenon as she’s sent from her space station home down to Earth where she has trouble fitting in with the regular ol’ people of Earth. It also stared Raven Symone as Zenon’s BFF Nebula and they gave you friendship goals before that was even a trendy thing to say. Now, allow me to get this banger stuck in your head before we move to our #1 DCOM pick.
1. Brink! (1998)
Brink! is an iconic piece of DCOM magic. It stars early 2000’s heartthrob (maybe?) Erik Von Detten as “soul skater” Andy ‘Brink’ Brinker who has to choose between his love of skating for fun or selling out for corporate sponsorships to help out his struggling family. It’s the classic good guys vs. bad guys participating in a sport you had no idea could make an enjoyable movie and has who I believe to be one of the best DCOM villains of all time – Val. You know he’s the villain because he’s got the long black hair as opposed to Brink’s long blonde hair. Overall, it’s actually a great movie about friendship, family, and staying true to yourself. So, come on – “When you woke up this morning, did you say to yourself ‘Today, I’m gonna talk.’ or ‘Today, I’m gonna skate!’?” I think it’s the latter.
Obviously, there were so many amazing DCOM movies back in the day and some of your favorites probably didn’t make the list, so let us know what they are in the comments!
Having studied Media & Writing at James Madison University, I always knew that I wanted to do some type of creative writing, but being able to write about zombies, Starks, and superheroes on a daily basis for Fan Fest is my actual dream. While I probably shouldn’t be as proud as I am to be so similar to Nick Miller, I do hope to one day write my own “Pepperwood Chronicles’.