Disney+ subscribers are likely to have checked out a few Disney Channel Original Movies by now. Some say these were before their time. Others aged out of the network somewhere in the 20+ years of DCOMs. Some kids and adults even enjoy the most recent DCOM franchises, like the Descendants or Zombies movies.
For millennials, there's a sweet spot of turn-of-the-century DCOMs that just can't be beaten. People who came of age during the Zoog Disney era of Disney Channel were so lucky, as the network was constantly rolling out original movies with compelling stories. Here are the ten most nostalgic DCOMs for millennials.
Andy "Brink" Brinker, Gabriella, Jordy, and Peter are "Soul-Skaters." They go inline skating because they are passionate about it. Their nemesis, Val, heads up Team X-Bladz, a sponsored group of skaters known for their dangerous stunts.
Brink has a chance to join the rival group and help his family with their finances. Will he sell out his friends and skate on the other side? Only millennials remember this 1998 DCOM.
9 Johnny Tsunami
Johnny Tsunami is a 1999 DCOM about a Hawaiian surfer named Johnny Kapahala (Brandon Baker) who must move to Vermont with his family. Johnny tries snowboarding since it feels a little like surfing, and he makes some friends named Sam (Lee Thompson Young) and Emily (Kirsten Storms).
When life gets complicated, Johnny and Sam run away to Hawaii to stay with Johnny's grandfather, but they return with the older man to Vermont. The movie got a sequel much later with 2007's Johnny Kapahala: Back on Board.
8 Smart House
"Jump, jump, the house is jumpin'!" If someone can sing this twenty years ago, then they probably saw Smart House (1999) for the first time as a kid. Some younger kids have latched onto the movie's brilliance over the years, but it's the millennial Disney Channel viewers who know just how creepy and correct Smart House's technological predictions are.
Ben and his dad and sister movie into a house that's run by one giant Alexa named P.A.T. (Personal Applied Technology). This is a nifty set-up until Ben programs P.A.T. to be more motherly to keep his father from dating, and she goes out of control.
7 Don't Look Under the Bed
Disney Channel had a scary Halloween back in '99. Don't Look Under the Bed arrived a year after the first Halloweentown movie. Everyone knows the Halloweentown saga, but Don't Look Under the Bed is more niche. A girl named Frances (Erin Chambers) is framed by the Boogeyman, who is going around wreaking havoc on the community, as the Boogeyman does.
Frances gets some help from an imaginary friend named Larry Houdini. He was played by Ty Hodges (who would go on to play Larry Beale soon after in Even Stevens). Larry and Frances share a kiss at the end, which was pretty progressive for Disney at the time, since, as Ty Hodges has noted on Christy's Kitchen Throwback, he is Black and Frances is white.
6 Horse Sense
Another gift from 1999 is Horse Sense. This film starred Joey and Andy Lawrence. Joey played a rich, lazy 20-year-old named Michael in Los Angeles; Andy played Michael's cousin, Tommy, from Montana. When Tommy visits Michael, Michael totally ignores his 11-year-old cousin and is completely self-centered.
Michael really messes up when he promises to take the poor kid to Disneyland and then goes to meet his heiress girlfriend, instead. To whip Michael into shape after he blows off his cousin and lies about a car accident, Michael's father sends him to work on Tommy's family's ranch for one month. The cousins slowly bond over the experience, and it takes some dirty work for Michael to grow up a little. The movie got a sequel in 2001, Jumping Ship.
5 Alley Cats Strike
A very young Kyle Schmid played a bowler named Alex in this 2000 tween DCOM. Alex and his friends are like the bowling version of Brink!'s "Soul-Skaters;" they bowl because they love it.
Their game is the school's last resort when it's time for West Appleton and East Appleton to face off for the Mighty Apple trophy. The mayor's popular son, Todd, gets signed up to bowl with Alex, Delia, Ken, and Elisa. It turns into a beautiful lesson in friendship and fairness, but the kids of today probably haven't heard of this one.
4 Phantom of the Megaplex
The nostalgia factor for this 2000 movie is high right now. Caitlin Wachs, who played Karen Riley, is often asked about the movie on Instagram. She has nostalgia for this experience, too. It was filmed at a movie theater in Toronto, so she got to watch lots of movies whenever she wasn't filming.
In the movie's story, Karen's brother, Pete (Taylor Handley), works at the movie theater. Pete and Karen also have a little brother named Brian, who was played by Jacob Smith from Cheaper by the Dozen. The kids got to work with Mickey Rooney, who plays Movie Mason. And of course, there's a phantom messing up everything at the movie theater. Watch to find out who it is!
Quints (2000) will take viewers back. This is everything a DCOM should be. An ordinary girl with doting parents has to make a big adjustment when her mom gives birth to quintuplets.
Jamie Grover is a good kid, and she willingly pitches in to help her busy mom and dad. She realizes that she no longer has their full attention, though. Thanks to her friends Brad and Zoe, Jamie finds a way to make things work with her parents and her five new siblings.
2 The Luck of the Irish
In 2001, Disney first aired a movie they would be able to play every St. Patrick's Day, The Luck of the Irish. Smart House's Ryan Merriman came back as even more of a heartthrob to play Kyle Johnson, a kid who has no idea about his heritage until he goes to an Irish festival and has a real gold coin stolen from him.
Kyle learns from his parents that he and his mother are leprechauns, just like his grandfather, Reilly O'Reilly. This is always a fun watch, and '90s babies are the most likely to have nostalgia for it.
1 Cadet Kelly
Thanks to the eternal fandom of Lizzie McGuire and Even Stevens, people of many ages know about Cadet Kelly (2002). However, the ones who get the most out of the movie are the ones who saw its premiere and grew up with it.
Disney Channel would air really fun commercials with Christy Carlson Romano and Hilary Duff behind the scenes talking about their wardrobe or learning their drill team moves. It's a wild idea these days to think of Hilary Duff going to military school, but it made for great television and gave everyone a visual association for the song "One Girl Revolution."
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