The 40 Best Disney Channel Original Movies

Disney Channel Original Movies were an inescapable part of many of our childhoods— you knew that whenever you saw those kids jumping around that shit was about to get real. Now, on the eve of Disney Channel’s 40th anniversary on April 18th. We’re looking back at the very best Disney Channel Original Movies.

disney movie high school musical

Image via Getty/Bryan Bedder

disney movie high school musical

If you’re a fan of DCOMs (Disney Channel Original Movies), we know exactly what you were doing on Memorial Day weekend in 2016. You were watching the DCOM marathon on Disney Channel, which was being aired in honor of the 100th Disney Channel Original Movie, Adventures In Babysitting. The marathon featured the 51 most popular DCOMs, and Disney later proceeded to air all 99 DCOMs over the course of the month. It was a perfectly concentrated dose of nostalgia for the Disney Channel fans who grew up on these movies and are still waiting for High School Musical 4.

Disney Channel Original Movies are proof that TV movies don’t always have to be lame -- they can actually be quality films despite low budgets. They also gave us some big name stars, including Zac Efron, Shia LaBeouf, and Selena Gomez. Sure, they were excessively cheesy sometimes and often hit you over the head with the lessons they were trying to teach, but they were entertaining, dammit. (Or maybe they were the only things Disney aired at night when we were trying to sleep.) Still, their impact is unquestionable: millennials may not know their state capitals, but they definitely have extensive knowledge of the discographies of both Hilary Duff and Raven-Symone. I don’t know the capital of Iowa, but I do know all of the lyrics to “We’re All In This Together”, so thanks for that, Disney.

Disney Channel Original Movies were an inescapable part of many of our childhoods. You knew that whenever you saw those kids jumping around in that weird Disney void with film reels that shit was about to get real. Now, on the eve of Disney Channel’s 40th anniversary on April 18th, we’re looking back at the very best Disney Channel Original Movies.

40. Under Wraps (October 25, 1997)

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Director: Greg Beeman

Stars: Bill Fagerbakke, Adam Wylie, Mario Yedidia, Clara Bryant

Lesson Learned: Mummies aren’t scary—they’re friendly!

The very first Disney Channel Original Movie as we know them, Under Wraps takes a horror concept and turns it into a kids comedy because… sure. A bunch of kids find a mummy in the basement of a dead man’s house and are rightfully scared at first, until they find out he’s actually a good mummy who is just silly and clumsy.

The owner of the house was faking his death to avoid paying taxes and he wants his mummy back, so the kids have to keep hide the mummy from their neighborhood (AKA keep him… under wraps), and the mummy also falls in love with a girl mummy. Pretty boilerplate mummy movie stuff. —AH

39. Quints (August 18, 2000)

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Director: Bill Corcoran

Stars: Kimberly J. Brown, Daniel Roebuck, Elizabeth Morehead, Robin Duke

Lesson Learned: Don’t have kids, you might end up with quintuplets.

Quints is the movie that crushed any dreams that Disney tweens ever had of becoming a parent. Kimberly J. Brown (of Halloweentown fame) stars as Jamie, a young woman who resents how much attention her parents give her. She should’ve been careful with her complaints, though, because her mom becomes pregnant and gives birth to quintuplets!

Jamie’s life becomes a living hell as she has to help her parents deal with five newborn babies. This movie may as well be a horror movie. (Side note: Craig Manning from Degrassi is in this movie!) —AH

38. The Proud Family Movie (August 19, 2005)

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Director: Bruce W. Smith

Stars: Kyla Pratt, Tommy Davidson, Paula Jai Parker, Marie Jo Payton, Tara Strong

Lesson Learned: You can gain the respect of peanut humanoid warriors through dance battles.

The series finale for one of the best Disney Channel animated sitcoms of all time, The Proud Family Movie was in typical series finale DCOM fashion --- very weird. Similar to The Even Stevens Movie, the movie follows the Proud family as they are invited to a remote island, but of course it’s under nefarious pretenses, as a descendant of George Washington Carver wants Oscar Proud’s Proud Snaks formula so that he can perfect his perfect his experimental humanoid peanut warriors, called “Gnome Warriors.”

To be clear, The Proud Family is about an average family with a bumbling dad. The movie is about humanoid peanut warriors. It’s strange but it’s fun, there’s a weird battle dance scene, and in the end, Penny Proud discovers that there’s nothing more important than family. —AH

37. Mom’s Got A Date With A Vampire (October 13, 2000)

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Director: Steve Boyum

Stars: Matt O’Leary, Laura Vandervoort, Myles Jeffrey, Caroline Rhea

Lesson Learned: Be extra suspicious of men your mom goes on dates with.

The title is pretty self-explanatory but yes, this DCOM follows two siblings as they attempt to save their mother from going on a date with a vampire. It’s basically a perfect fantasy for kids of single parents who would hate whenever their parents would go on dates.

The kids figure out that mom’s dad is a vampire, so they call a vampire hunter (played by Lizzie McGuire’s dad, no less) named Malachi Van Helsing. They team up to defeat the vampire using the power of familial love, and the vampire hunter gets a date with the mom! All’s well that ends well. (Side note No. 2: Craig Manning from Degrassi is in this movie, too!) —AH

36. A Ring of Endless Light (August 23, 2002)

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Director: Greg Beeman

Stars: Mischa Barton, Ryan Merriman, Jared Padalecki

Lesson Learned: If you love dolphins enough you can read their thoughts.

One of the more serious DCOMS, A Ring of Endless Light is an adaptation of a Madeline L’Engle novel (she also wrote A Wrinkle In Time). It follows teenager Vicky (played by a pre-The O.C. Mischa Barton) as she discovers she can telepathically communicate with dolphins, as well as a boy she just met named Adam (DCOM mainstay Ryan Merriman).

The two teens, along with troubled rich kid Zach (played by a pre-Gilmore Girls, pre-Supernatural Jared Padalecki) team up expose the illegal use of drift nets to capture and kill dolphins. Vicky uses her telepathy to save the dolphins and Adam from (twist!) Zach’s father. It’s a very cheesy version of a much more serious novel but hey, look at all these future stars! —AH

35. Stuck in the Suburbs (July 16, 2004)

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Director: Savage Steve Holland

Stars: Danielle Panabaker, Brenda Strong, Taran Killam

Lesson Learned: It’s okay to go through someone’s phone if they’re your favorite pop star.

The first DCOM to majorly feature cell phones as a plot device, Stuck In The Suburbs follows two fangirls played by Danielle Panabaker (now on The Flash) and Brenda Song (a major Disney star at the time) as they accidentally switch phones with their favorite pop star, Jordan Cahill. Shenanigans ensue, and there’s a lesson learned about being true to who you are.

This was the first DCOM to come with a soundtrack, and it had plenty of big name Disney stars on it, including Jesse McCartney, Haylie Duff, and Anneliese van der Pol. It notably included Jesse McCartney’s hit “Good Life”. Also, if Jordan Cahill looks familiar to you, that’s because he’s played by Taran Killam, later SNL star. —AH


34. Pixel Perfect (January 16, 2004)

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Director: Mark A.Z. Dippé

Stars: Raviv Ullman, Leah Pipes, Spencer Redford

Lesson Learned: Holograms will only break your heart, man.

Her who? Pixel Perfect tackled what happens when a dweeby dude falls in love with an artificial intelligence first, thank you very much. Raviv Ullman (formerly known as Ricky Ullman, star of Phil of the Future) stars as Roscoe, who helps his best friend Sam’s band become more popular by creating a sentient hologram named Loretta, of course.

The band becomes a huge success but of course, Roscoe gets too close to Loretta and Sam rightfully thinks it’s weird (partially because it is weird but also partially because she’s in love with him! Drama!). The ending is where this movie truly goes wild and turns into a mini Black Mirror episode: it involves lightning strikes, comas, and artificial intelligences inside other people’s brains, all because Phil of the future was horny for a robot. —AH

33. Kim Possible Movie: So The Drama (April 8, 2005)

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Director: Steve Loter

Stars: Christy Carlson Romano, Will Friedle, Nancy Cartwright, Tahj Mowry, Raviv Ullman

Lesson Learned: Your best friend that you spend all your time with who’s clearly in love with you is definitely in love with you, so kiss him already.

Awkward title aside, this movie has the moment all Kim Possible fans were waiting for: Kim and Ron finally realizing their feelings for each other.

As great as Kim Possible was, from the gadgets to the naked mole rat gags to the ridiculous villains, the show took way too long to have these crazy kids figure out they’ve got the hots for each other. There’s also something about evil robots and a high tech suit in this movie, but if you’ll excuse me I’m just going to listen to that Christy Carlson Romano song again and think about that ending kiss. —AH

32. Twitches (October 14, 2005)

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Director: Stuart Gillard

Stars: Tia Mowry, Tamera Mowry, Kristen Wilson, Patrick Fabian

Lesson Learned: That woman who you just ran into and looks exactly like you is your magical twin, duh.

Twitches is essentially Sister, Sister meets Harry Potter, which… was a choice, but it works! Basically, two twin witches (the titular “twitches”) are separated at birth after their father dies and gives them the rest of his power, and they’re hidden on Earth with human parents… wait yeah, this is totally just Harry Potter.

Tia and Tamera Mowry are very fun and charming though, and the special effects are not actually bad for a TV movie made in 2005. The movie also gave us a great Aly & AJ tie-in song. —AH

31. The Even Stevens Movie (June 13, 2003)

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Director: Sean McNamara

Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Christy Carlson Romano, Donna Pescow, Tom Virtue, Tim Meadows

Lesson Learned: No one, not even reality show producers, can tear apart the Stevens family.

The feature length movie/series finale of Even Stevens, one of Disney Channel’s best original series’, didn’t disappoint. It’s centered around the Stevens family taking a luxurious vacation, only to discover they’ve been tricked into participating in a reality show. The movie is more ridiculous than the show, in the very best way.

The movie also features the ultimate fight between Louis and Ren, as they’re pitted against each other by reality show producers. It ends in a shocking twist, much like an episode of a reality show would. It’s zany and ridiculous and also Tim Meadows is there, a full year before he would appear in Mean Girls. —AH

30. Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge (October 12, 2001)

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Director: Mary Lambert

Stars: Kimberly J. Brown, Debbie Reynolds, Judith Hoag, Daniel Kountz

Lesson Learned: Always be sure to wear a Halloween costume that you wouldn’t mind being magically turned into.

The darker, edgier sequel to one of Disney Channel’s biggest movies, Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge also essentially rips off that one episode of Buffy where people become their Halloween costumes.

We were all eagerly waiting for a return trip to Halloweentown, and this is easily the best of the Halloweentown sequels (don’t get me started on the awful Sara Paxton one). The special effects are just slightly better (time travel sequences!), it’s a bit creepier and more serious than the first one (the costume transformation scene is kinda scary!), and it’s even got a love interest for main character Marnie who’s definitely not the son of the villain from the first movie. —AH

29. Miracle in Lane 2 (May 13, 2000)

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Director: Greg Beeman

Stars: Frankie Muniz, Patrick Levis, Rick Rossovich, Molly Hagan

Lesson Learned: God doesn't make mistakes, even though you have a lazy eye.

Just for arguments sake, pretend you're the older brother in Miracle in Lane 2. You're the star athlete, but then your brother shows up, steals all your parents' attention, and gets dubbed a miracle with a trophy. And you can't feel bad because he was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus and lives his life in a wheelchair. Sorry, we know it's wrong to put you in that situation. We're just a little peeved that God was in this movie in the form of race car driver who wears a shirt that reads, "I don't make mistakes!". Which is kind of cocky.

Justin (Frankie Muniz, before he became old and creepy-looking) finds a soapbox in his neighbor's garage and starts his sports career. He has many successes, but not long after, his parents worry that his new hobby might affect his health. In the end, Justin asks God if people are perfect in heaven. God shows him heaven, where people are all together without wheelchairs, to which Justin happily drawls, "Perfect."

And then Justin crashes his soapbox to get there sooner. Just kidding—this is Disney! In all seriousness, though, it was really inspirational. In fact, Miracle in Lane 2 inspired us to sneak around in our neighbor's garages. Thanks, Frankie. —TA

28. Get A Clue (June 28, 2002)

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Director: Maggie Greenwald

Stars: Lindsay Lohan, Brenda Song, Bug Hall, Ian Gomez

Lesson Learned: Snooping into the private life of your teachers is good, actually.

Get A Clue is the perfect movie for every kid who collected those spy gear kits. Lindsay Lohan is a gossip column editor at her high school (because teachers allow that for some reason), her best friend is Brenda Song in an early pre-Suite Life of Zack and Cody role, and her editor is Alfalfa from The Little Rascals, and also he has a crush on her.

All-star cast aside, we’ve also got a plot full of twists and turns as Lindsay Lohan investigates why her teacher has gone missing. The Usual Suspects was found dead after this movie came out, truly. This movie also features the song “Get A Clue”, an absolute banger by Canadian pop band Simon & Milo (fun fact: the band’s actual name is Prozzak but Disney Channel changed it as not to promote drug use). —AH

27. Teen Beach Movie (July 19, 2013)

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Director: Jeffrey Hornaday

Stars: Ross Lynch, Maia Mithcell, Grace Phipps, Garrett Clayton

Lesson Learned: If you’re too good at surfing, you will end up trapped in your favorite movie.

The only DCOM that references an aspect of movie history that 99% of the tweens watching don’t know about, Teen Beach Movie is a feature length homage to the teen beach party movies of the ‘60s, and in that sense it’s pretty fun and interesting. It centers on a teen couple, Brady and Mack, who go surfing and end up trapped inside Brady’s favorite movie, a ‘60s beach party movie called Wet Side Story.

From there, the leads fall in love with them and they attempt to make them fall back in love with each other, fix the movie, and return home. It’s a bit of a complicated premise for a simple movie, but it’s fun, thanks to some cheesy performances, especially from Zac Efron lookalike Garrett Clayton. The movie cares about what it’s paying homage to as well: the premiere of the movie began with a memorial to Annette Funicello, a huge beach movie star, who died earlier that year. —AH

26. The Cheetah Girls (August 15, 2003)

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Director: Oz Scott

Stars: Raven-Symoné, Adrienne Bailon, Kiely Williams, Sabrina Bryan

Lesson Learned: Name your child something catchy like Aquanette or Chandelier and they'll be famous!

The Cheetah Girls is a Limited, Too shopper's fantasy. It's a pair of clear pumps and testosterone away from being the prequel to Too Wong Foo. It looks like what Ke$ha's childhood dreams may have been like, before she got her hands on a bottle of Jack. Which basically made the movie a glittery explosion we just couldn't look away from. And it spawned two sequels and a double-platinum soundtrack, which has to count for something.

Strip away all the glitter and animal print and you have the story of a singing foursome, all given names that eerily predate RuPaul's Drag Racecontestants (namely Galleria, Aquanette, Dorinda and Chanel). After being discovered at a local talent show, the girls sign to a major record label and go through the ups and downs of developing into worldwide superstars.

Pop music historians, take note: The Cheetah Girls single-handedly resurrected the career of two 3LW singers, most notably Rob Kardashian's future ex, Adrienne Bailon. —TA

25. Horse Sense (November 20, 1999)

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Director: Greg Beeman

Stars: Joseph Lawrence, Andrew Lawrence

Lesson Learned: Be nice to your little cousins. They look up to you, they think you're cool, and they will tattle on you to their mom if you piss them off.

If your little cousin flies across the country to hang out with you and he gives you a hand-crafted whistle, then how could you not hang out with him? Michael (played by elder Lawrence bro, Joey) does exactly that. His housekeeper has to eventually speak up and say, "Dude. Why are you such a jerk? Take him to Disneyland." When he does, the self-absorbed playboy of sorts ditches his cousin again.

As punishment, Michael has to visit Tommy (played by younger bro Andrew Lawrence) in Montana (ugh) to work on his horse ranch (double ugh!), which he has to help save from foreclosure. How could this possibly work out?  Come on, they're totally different! Just look at the poster: Tommy is chewing on a piece of hay while Michael is gnawing on the antenna of his cell phone. This can never work!

Spoiler alert: It does. —TA

24. The Luck of the Irish (March 9, 2001)

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Director: Paul Hoen

Stars: Ryan Merriman, Henry Gibson

Lesson Learned: Don't hide your heritage from your children, or else they'll turn into leprechauns.

Kyle (Ryan Merriman) is popular, the star basketball player, and finds free money all the time, all unwittingly thanks to his lucky coin. He doesn't know anything about his heritage because, apparently, it's a shame upon the family. When Kyle visits an Irish festival, he's unable to stop step dancing—that is, before he gets knocked down by a carnie who steals his lucky coin. As a consequence, things change, his ears grow pointed, his hair turns orange, and he shrinks. We can only assume at this point he'd develop a love of dark brews and Irish whiskey, if this didn't air on Disney.

It's revealed that Kyle's lucky coin is what helps his family maintain their human appearance, as long as its youngest member is in possession of it. Together with his family, he fights the carnie (who turns out to be an evil leprechaun) and gets his luck back. Can't you just feel the excitement already?—TA

23. Up, Up and Away (January 22, 2000)

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Director: Robert Townsend

Stars: Robert Townsend, Michael J. Pagan, Alex Datcher, Sherman Helmsley, Kevin Connolly

Lesson Learned: You don't need superpowers to be a hero, but you'd be a lot cooler if you had them.

Up, Up and Away follows Scott Marshall (Michael J. Pagan), whose parents, Bronze Eagle (Robert Townsend) and Warrior Woman (Alex Datcher), are both superheroes. Unfortunately, he never developed his own superhuman abilities.

Eventually, Scott learns that he doesn't need heat vision or the ability to fly to save the world. All he needs is his natural human smarts and ability to withstand aluminum foil (his parents' Kryptonite) to defeat the "Earth Protectors," a group posing as environmentalists who secretly plot to brainwash everyone in the world into becoming their minions.

Feel free to use this film as a guilt-free excuse for dodging those Greenpeace solicitors. We do. —TA

22. Don't Look Under the Bed (October 9, 1999)

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Director: Kenneth Johnson

Stars: Erin Chambers, Eric "Ty" Hodges II, Jake Sakson

Lesson Learned: If you lose your childlike sense of wonder, ghouls will tarnish your name and try to slaughter your family.

It's the moment when shit got real: Don't Look Under the Bed was the first DCOM to get slapped with a TV-PG rating by the FCC's TV Parental Guidelines system. Why? Scary scenes, obviously. This is a horror movie, after all, one of the few produced by the network. "You shouldn't waste a lot of time growing up," observes precocious Frances Bacon McCausland (Erin Chambers), the film's protagonist, and one of the most unfortunately named characters in the DCOM universe.

Maybe that's what the filmmakers were thinking, too. How else do you explain the intense dutch angles or the gross makeup on the creature terrorizing Frances's home town? Don't Look Under the Bed tried to fast-track kids to adulthood through real terror. Guess it worked, since, per reports, some parents complained about the frights. Of course, those parents are cowards. —RS

21. Tru Confessions (April 5, 2002)

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Director: Paul Hoen

Stars: Clara Bryant, Shia LaBeouf, Mare Winningham

Lesson Learned: If your family suffers from enough mental and/or physical disabilities, TV producers will be all about it.

So, Shia LaBeouf is an esteemed actor now because Lars von Trier got his cock and balls out for onscreen boning in Nyphomaniac? And because he dropped acid in preparation for The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman? To those only now willing to bestow the former Even Stevens star with the title of thespian on that DDL tip, we have two words: Tru Confessions.

For this '02 DCOM, LaBeouf played a mentally handicapped character, the brother to actress Clara Bryant's titular Tru. Clara, bemoaning the hardships of her teenage life as the elder to a difficult sibling, enters a contest to win her own TV show. All of a sudden, that handicapped brother who made her life a mess really comes in handy.

Dubious plot turns aside, Tru Confessions is an essential for its early exhibition of LaBeouf's acting chops. Recently, the Transformers star that he's "done" with cookie-cutter Hollywood pictures. There's always the Disney Channel, Shia. It still loves you. —RS

20. The Thirteenth Year (May 15, 1999)

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Director: Duwayne Dunham

Stars: Chez Starbuck, Courtnee Draper, Tim Redwine

Lesson Learned: All adopted kids are mermaids.

Is there anything more exciting than your first chest hair? Or being 13 and thinking of all the different types of mustaches you could grow? Then imagine you wake up and you have fins. That's when you know you're adopted—aw, nuts!

That's what happened to Cody (Chez Starbuck), and it explained why he was so good at swimming. Too bad being a mermaid isn't an easy thing to explain to your heated rival/teammate. Any rational person would be cool with just believing the dude was on 'roids that had some crazy side effects. —TA

19. Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie (August 28, 2009)

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Director: Lev L. Spiro

Stars: Selena Gomez, David Henrie, Jake T. Austin

Lesson Learned: Don't ever wish your parents didn't exist because it's so annoying to get them back when they do disappear.

Riding high off the success of the Emmy-winning TV series Wizards of Waverly Place, Disney cashed in and gave the show its own movie. Sure enough, the flick was a mega hit, becoming the second most-watched DCOM ever with 11.4 million viewers on its premiere night.

The feature-length Wizards of Waverly Place followed the Russos, a family of wizards—who look as harmless as The Cleavers—on vacation in the Caribbean. There, trouble-prone Alex (Selena Gomez) gets into a heated argument with her mom, leading the teenager to wish her parents never met. Unable to fully grasp the strength of her powers yet, Alex inadvertently grants her own wish. Thus, she and her brothers set out to find the Stone of Dreams—which, according to a conveniently Caribbean-dwelling wizard is conveniently located somewhere on the island—to reverse the spell.

Despite the series having ended earlier this year, a sequel to the film has recently begun filming. And this time, it will be totally acceptable to crush on Selena Gomez. —TA

18. Gotta Kick It Up! (July 26, 2002)

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Director: Ramón Menéndez

Stars: America Ferrera, Camile Guaty, Susan Egan, Jhoanna Flores

Lesson Learned: “Si se puede!” is Spanish for “Yes, we can!”

Now an accomplished actress, America Ferrera first came on screen in the delightful Gotta Kick It Up! which taught many non-Spanish speaking children exactly one (1) Spanish phrase: “Si se puede!” which of course means “Yes, we can!”

An unabashedly feminist movie, Gotta Kick It Up! followed a group of Latina teenagers as their teacher helps them find themselves through participating a dance troupe. Definitely one of the most crowd-pleasing DCOMs, Gotta Kick It Up! is a diverse and fun ode to friendship, ambition, and dance. —AH

17. High School Musical 2 (August 17, 2007)

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Director: Kenny Ortega

Stars: Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu

Lesson Learned: A surefire way to prove that you don’t dance is to perform a musical number called “I Don’t Dance.”

The highest rated DCOM premiere of all time, High School Musical 2 is, of course, the highly-awaited sequel to the smash hit High School Musical, and expanded on the original in several ways: More songs! More sun! More homoeroticisim!

Controversially choosing to *not* show the titular musical that everyone was auditioning for in the original movie (I guess we just have to assume it went well?), the sequel finds our favorite musical high schoolers working at a country club, enduring light relationship drama, and then making up and coming together for a big ending number, featuring a cameo by Miley Cyrus—2007 was such a simpler time. —AH


16. Cadet Kelly (March 8, 2002)

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Director: Larry Shaw

Stars: Hilary Duff, Christy Carlson Romano, Gary Cole

Lesson Learned: Going from totally fab to olive drab and then back to totally fab is a realistic trajectory for one's life.

Oh, Christy Carlson Romano—she was such a stick in the mud, right? Especially considering how super-fabulous Hilary Duff was, spinning that plastic rifle in her jazz hands like it was a baton and she was the majorette of our super-sad high school dreams.

But since you didn't have the same downbeat existence circa '02, let's get you up to speed. Kelly Collins (Hilary Duff) has a problem: Her mom is dating this Brigadier General and since they're totally in love, they're getting married, which means that Collins is going to have to attend the military academy the BG oversees. Since Collins totally loves pink sweatpants, there will be problems. She squares off against consummate ball/ovary-buster Cadet Captain Jennifer Stone (Romano), and then there's a big school dance, some cliff-rappelling, and, of course, many lessons learned.

Fun fact: Cadet Kelly caused an entire generation of children to be drawn to women-in-prison movies starring Pam Grier and lots of breasts. —RS

15. Camp Rock (June 20, 2008)

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Director: Matthew Diamond

Stars: Demi Lovato, Joe Jonas, Nick Jonas, Kevin Jonas, Alison Stoner, Meaghan Martin

Lesson Learned: Sing everywhere and a Jonas Brother will find you.

You may have been too old to appreciate the third highest viewed DCOM ever (8.9 million viewers), Camp Rock, but kids today below the age of 18 will grow up and look back on the musical as a classic.

The film cemented the superstar status of one emo-haired Disney prince, Joe Jonas, and launched the career of another star, Demi Lovato. They played polar opposite characters: She's the lunch lady's poor daughter (with a mega voice) and he's the biggest pop star in the universe (who can't find love in a sea of shallow tweens who want him for his bod).

Ultimately, the two make sweet music together in the most G-rated way: by literally making curse-word-free, lovey-dovey music together. Elsewhere, the two other Jonas Brothers and their tight pants co-star. —TA

14. The Other Me (September 8, 2000)

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Director: Manny Coto

Stars: Andrew Lawrence, Mark L. Taylor, Alison Pill

Lesson Learned: Clones breed jealousy, but also understanding and self-actualization.

Doubling is popular in the DCOM universe. The Other Me holds the distinction of being the only movie that doubles a character through tainted Sea Monkeys knockoffs, here called Ocean Pups. Andrew Lawrence, stepping into the spotlight after years of playing the youngest behind his older brothers, Joe and Matt, plays Will Browning and Twoie, birthed by Ocean Pups.

Imagine David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers, minus the drug addiction and gynecology—that's the recipe for this light-hearted take on the power struggle between intensely-linked twins. At first, Will is glad to have Twoie around to go to school in his place, hang out with his decrepit grandfather while Will stays home to party, et cetera. But then he becomes jealous.

Things don't descend into gross madness and dependency, though. Instead, the film turns into a wild caper featuring two inept scientists hellbent on kidnapping Twoie to better study him. Thankfully, science doesn't win. —RS

13. Rip Girls (April 22, 2000)

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Director: Joyce Chopra

Stars: Camilla Belle, Stacie Hess, Brian Stark

Lesson Learned: Do not let this movie inspire you to surf. We almost drowned.

Before Blue Crush sexed up the idea of female surfers, there was Rip Girls, a flick about mainland girl, Sydner Miller (Camilla Belle), who discovers the beauty of surfing during a family trip to Hawaii.

But the movie isn't simply about a young girl becoming BFFs with nature or whatever. While she makes a few chill island friends, including her distractingly gap-toothed crush Kona (Brian Stark), the truth about her visit comes to light: She's inherited a large piece of land that a major developer plans to build a mega-mall on.

SPOILER ALERT: After taking acid and listening to the crashing ocean waves and the whispers of seashells, Sydney decides to preserve the island. —TA

12. Jett Jackson: The Movie (June 8, 2001)

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Director: Shawn Levy

Stars: Lee Thompson Young, Michael Ironside, Lindy Booth, Ryan Sommers Baum

Lesson Learned: Let the mask of your real life slip and your fictional character will take control—NBD, tho.

A break in your regularly scheduled programming: Ryan Sommers Baum, who played the chinless J.B. Halliburton, Jett Jackson's sidekick and token dumpy white friend, is now a Quaker minister. Regularly scheduled programming resumed: Jett Jackson: The Movie was a big-budget, feature-length spin-off of Disney's series The Famous Jett Jackson. The series told the very meta story of a young actor, Jett Jackson, who plays a secret agent on the popular show Silverstone.

In a twist on the Stranger Comes to Town x Fish Out of Water in Reverse storyline, Jackson's show is now shooting in the sleepy village of Wilsted, NC, where Jackson's pops lives. For the bigger, badder DCOM, Michael Ironside—best remembered for having a metal arm and ugly mug in Starship Troopersplays the villain, Dr. Kragg. Something happens to make Jackson switch places with his spy character, making for Disney's version of a Charlie Kaufman screenplay on whatever the opposite of steroids is. It ends positively. —RS

11. Phantom of the Megaplex (November 10, 2000)

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Director: Blair Treu

Stars: Taylor Handley, Jacob Smith, Caitlin Wachs, Mickey Rooney

Lesson Learned: If you neglect your family because of your passion for film, there will be hell to pay.

Exploring the impermanence of minimum wage jobs and the superficiality of Internet spoiler culture, Phantom of the Megaplex has little to do with The Phantom of the Opera, despite the title and Mickey Rooney's mishapen, melted-candle face. Pete Riley is 17, and, like so many of us, he loves only to sit in a dark theater and let motion pictures break over him like religious truth. He works at the titular megaplex, and as the film begins, he's helping prepare for the grand premiere of Midnight Mayhem.

The premiere, however, will not go according to plan, as Riley is saddled with his siblings, who don't share his intense love for cinema. Meanwhile, a phantom—perhaps the ghost of someone who got trapped in a previous incarnation of the town's theater before it was demolished—is pulling off ingenious pranks. The mischievous acts reflect the titles being screened at the theater, i.e. the Phantom places a large fan inside the theater showing Cyclone Summer. He's a clever one.

Eventually, Riley realizes that he wants to spend time with his family, not under the light of the film projector's flickering beam. Seeing Mickey Rooney's shriveled body probably had something to do with his decision. —RS

10. The Color of Friendship (February 5, 2000)

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Director: Kevin Hooks

Stars: Lindsey Haun, Shadia Simmons

Lesson Learned: Everyone's equal, asshole.

The Color of Friendship was arguably the first time Disney channel viewers were confronted with a harsh reality that isn't whitewashed by musical numbers, futuristic slang, or animated dancing candlesticks. The movie tells the true story of a developing friendship between two girls in 1977; Piper (Shadia Simmons), a black teen from Washington, DC, and Mahree (Lindsay Haun), a wealthy white teen from apartheid South Africa.

At first, Mahree treats Piper's family with disrespect, as her upbringing made her wary of the idea of interracial relationships. However, as she gets closer to Piper, Mahree realizes everyone's inherent equality, and the two learn the meaning of tolerance. Of course, that's the abridged version, without the gritty details of a murdered member of the South African liberation movement, worldwide protests, and Mahree's consequent kidnapping by her embassy.

The film went on to win every major award it was nominated for that year, including an Emmy for Outstanding Children's Program, the NAACP award for Outstanding Youth or Children's Series/Special, and, most importantly, our hearts. —TA

9. Halloweentown (October 17, 1998)

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Director: Duwayne Dunham

Stars: Kimberly J. Brown, Phillip Van Dyke, Debbie Reynolds, Judith Hoag

Lesson Learned: Generational divides can only be overcome through the supernatural.

If you want to prove to a 20-something the ineptitude of Wikipedia, send them to the page for Halloweentown. Here goes: "Halloweentown is a 1998 Disney Channel Original Movie released in October 1998 to acknowledge the holiday of Halloween." Wikipedia, are you kidding? It was released to acknowledge the holiday of Halloween? It wasn't released to acknowledge the crazy pressure parents put on their children? Or to acknowledge the power of family? Wikipedia, FOH.

Halloweentown spawned three sequels—the money is the motive—but the original stands out as the towering achievement, a film that made the tensions between generations (three of 'em, to be specific) vividly real against the backdrop of a magic land that mostly isn't ripped off from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. Although Debbie Reynolds (who plays the eldest member of the Cromwell clan) has a face that's basically a claymation short. —RS

8. Motocrossed (February 16, 2001)

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Director: Steve Boyum

Stars: Alanna Austin, Riley Smith, Trevor O'Brien, Scott Terra, Michael Cunio

Lesson Learned: Be nice to your fellow bro—he might turn out to be a hot girl in drag.

Many movies are re-imagined Shakespeare plays—Kiss Me Kate, My Own Private Idaho, and even Romeo Must Die—but who would've ever thought to set any in the extreme world of motocross? Only the magical minds at Disney, of course!

An adaptation of Willy's Twelfth Night, Motocrossed follows Andrea "Andi" Carson, a dirt bike riding chick who gets a crew cut and takes over her twin brother's spot in a big race that could win their family-run team a corporate sponsorship. Unfortunately for Andi, her ride to the finish is obstructed by that fact that she's "just a measly girl" in a world overrun by brolic dudes in protective cups—one being her love interest and competition—and her overprotective dad, who benches her in place of the douchey European rider he's hired as a replacement.

Like all Disney princesses, Andi proves that girls are just as good as boys, wins her dad's respect, and leaves all of the other competitors questioning their manhood. —TA

7. Alley Cats Strike (March 18, 2000)

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Director: Rod Daniel

Stars: Kyle Schmid, Robert Ri'chard, Kaley Cuoco

Lesson Learned: "Fuck it, dude. Let's go bowling."

It was 2000, the very year George Bush II crooked his way into the White House. The event was some months away when Alley Cats Strike aired, but trouble was on everyone's mind. Disney aired a film about a group of outcasts living in the past, who only want to go bowling and dressing in bad baggy button ups with short sleeves. (Please, make a connection between Alley Cats Strike and The Big Lebowski, reader.)

Little did we know that, in a matter of months, we would all be like those outcasts in Bush's America, waiting for our own 7-10 split to hit and end the waking nightmare that had become our lives. (If only we could roll the ball with enough spit and gumption like Delia.) Truthfully, this scribbling has little to do with that DCOM, but when writers of our generation look back at the early 2000s, we remember the Disney Channel and our parents sobbing quietly on the phone with liberal friends, so forgive us for confusing things. —RS

6. Genius (August 21, 1999)

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Director: Rod Daniel

Stars: Trevor Morgan, Emmy Rossum, Charles Fleischer

Lesson Learned: A bad bitch only wants the truth; or, real recognize real.

Doubling, the classic method employed in psychodrama to bring about catharsis in the roiling mind of the patient, involves a participant standing behind the patient and vocalising things the patient may want to articulate but cannot.

Metaphorically staging this technique against a soft science fiction background, Genius tells the story of Charlie Boyle, a 14-year-old physics prodigy attending college. Through his work, he's trying to literally defy gravity. (The symbolism is rich.)

But Boyle meets a girl his age and falls in love. Desperate for her attention and affection, Boyle creates a version of himself he calls Chaz Anthony. Anthony will be the high-school bad boy that Boyle cannot be, and thus win his beloved, or so the thinking goes. The heart is more complicated than any of Newton's theories, of course. Things go awry for the young genius, and he learns a lesson more important than anything science can teach.

Note: For viewers interested in this sort of thing Emmy Rossum, who plays the beloved, gets hella naked on Showtime's Shameless. Whoa. —RS

5. High School Musical (January 20, 2006)

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Director: Kenny Ortega

Stars: Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale

Lesson Learned: Money over everything.

Retelling Romeo and Juliet for the YouTube generation, ADHD kids weaned on their parents' Wicked CDs, and blah blah blah—High School Musical is stupidly successful, and that's all you need to know.

Oh, your favorite DCOM is Hounded? Well, High School Musical took a dump on the ratings for Hounded seven million times. It catapulted Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Tisdale to success. It launched a live tour, an ice tour, an actual stage musical, a book series, a video game, a reality series, and many sequels, both in English and other languages. All of this means money, so much money. There was music, too. —RS

4. Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century (January 23, 1999)

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Director: Kenneth Johnson

Stars: Kirsten Storms, Frederick Coffin, Mark KarPhillip Rhys, Raven-Symoné, Gregory Smith

Lesson Learned: Only 37 more years until we can live in space! Zedis lapedis!

In retrospect, Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century was remarkably progressive. The film, about a girl who lives in a space station in 2049, predicted the iPad—Zenon uses a tablet to video chat with her BFF, Nebula (Raven-Symoné), when she's exiled to Earth to live with her quirky aunt as punishment for causing mischief.

Its themes remain timelessly universal despite its foretelling. Unable to fit in at first, Earthlings make fun of Zenon for her weird Spandex-y clothes, obsession with pop star Proto Zoa (Philip Rhys), and nonsensical slang ("Zedis lapedis!" which basically means, "Oh, shit!"). Ultimately, Zenon proves she's just a well-intentioned growing kid like her peers, and saves the space station from the destruction of an evil station general. —TA

3. Smart House (June 26, 1999)

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Director: LeVar Burton

Stars: Ryan Merriman, Katey Sagal, Raquel Beaudene

Lesson Learned: A house is not a home when there's only a hologram there to hold you tight.

Smart House, directed by Star Trek's Geordi La Forge, is a loose adaptation of Ray Bradbury's short story "The Veldt." They both operate from a similar premise: Living in a "smart" house that uses technology to care for human needs, though it may sound appealing, will ultimately backfire. Shots fired at science, right? Look closer.

In Smart House, we have Ben, a young computer whiz, played by DCOM heartthrob Ryan Merriman, his widowed father, and irritating kid sister. They are the Coopers, and they need a home with a mother to care for the kids in the absence of the dead mother. (DCOM's weren't going to rock traditional notions of family/child-rearing.)

Lucky for the Coopers, they win the titular Smart House, where Pat (played by Katey Segal, of Sons of Anarchy), a hologrammed version on monstrous femininity, will take care of them. Everything's going great, initially. The kids get to "Slam Dunk the Funk" in a choreographed dance routine at a house party, Merriman's character gets someone to kiss his face, and all the trash gets picked up thanks to Pat's sucking abilities.

But then Ben gets jealous of the woman his dad is dating, and starts to push Pat to become a more involved mother. Pat goes haywire, locking the family inside the house to best "care" for them; Merriman calls her out for being a hologram; Pat relinquishes control; technology loses, real families win.

In "The Veldt," a family lives in an automated home with a nursery where the two kids spend all their time. The nursery creates a virtual reality for whatever the kids want. Their parents can't figure it out, but every time they check in on the kids, they're chilling on an African plain, with lions grazing on animal carcasses off in the distance. And now the kids won't come out of the nursery. Time to call in the kiddie shrink, who advises the parents to power down the nursery. But before that can happen, the kids lure the parents into the nursery. They lock them inside. The lions move from the distance to the foreground and consume the parents. The shrink pays a visit and finds the children taking lunch on the veldt.

Many people look into the face's of children and see beaming potential, wonderful creatures exploring the world, making the occasional mistake but learning from those experiences. That's what Disney sees. Bradbury, not so much. —RS

2. Johnny Tsunami (July 24, 1999)

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Director: Steve Boyum

Stars: Brandon Baker, Kirsten Storms, Lee Thompson Young

Lesson Learned: The best family secrets are the ones that involve snowboarding, not emotional trauma.

Brandon Baker is Johnny Kapahala. He wants only to surf and wear long-sleeved shirts with shorts on the beaches of Hawaii. To his friends, he's just Johnny. To his grandfather, the famous surfing legend Johnny Tsunami, he's "Porno," or something phonetically similar. To his parents, he's a thing to be moved to Vermont when his dad's job demands it. To the conceited bastards of Vermont, he's a perpetually underdressed weirdo who isn't posh enough to hold their ski poles. In other words, he's an Urchin, just another public school kid who should stick to snowboarding.

That's according to the Flies, the chipper private school jerkoffs who prefer skiing. But once a surfer, always a surfer, even if surfing is snowboarding in Vermont. Johnny can't stay away from the powder or the most coveted white girl. (Keep in mind, none of this is about cocaine.) The past meets the present as brothers are unmasked, an old man reveals himself to be a champion snowboarder, and of course there's a dance. There's always a dance. —RS

1. Brink! (August 29, 1998)

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Director: Greg Beeman

Stars: Erik von Detten, Sam Horrigan, Christina Vidal, Patrick Levis

Lesson Learned: You'd get awesome shit if you sold out, but being a "soul skater" just sounds so much cooler.

If you've ever watched Brink!, you know how impossible it is to turn it off without feeling the need to strap on a pair of rollerblades and ride around town without the fear of crushing your nuts. That's because Andy "Brink" Brinker (Erik Von Detten) made it look so damn easy and so damn cool!

As the eponymous character of the film, Brink is faced with the decision of whether to bail on his posse—the "Soul Skaters," as they'd call themselves—and join Team X-Bladz, the corporate-sponsored crew on the cover of every major skating magazine. He chooses the latter.

However, after witnessing Val (Sam Horrigan, known best as Spike from Little Giants) trip his former teammate with pebbles during a race, Brink rejoins his friends, gets them a sponsorship with a dog grooming shop, and, with Team Pup 'N Suds, proves that no amount of money can buy his soul. Right on, bro. —TA

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