Staff Recs: Best Disney Channel Original Movies

We’ve talked about some of our favorite childhood Disney series, but let’s not forget how one of our favorite channels was churning out classic T.V. movies at this time as well.

Before “High School Musical 3” graced the big screen, its predecessors grew to national fame on the small screen. But “High School Musical” wasn’t the only movie to gain classic status on Disney Channel, so WSN is here to give our recs on all the amazing films that dominated our childhood.

“The Lizzie McGuire Movie”
No matter how you see it, Lizzie McGuire is an icon for our generation. Hilary Duff was the first of many Disney stars to grace the covers of our teen magazines and star in several family-friendly movies, all thanks to her role as an awkward and relatable teen on Disney Channel. McGuire set the stage for her successful sitcom successors, such as “That’s So Raven” and “Hannah Montana.” Her place in Disney Channel history is so important that her series’ feature film, “The Lizzie McGuire Movie,” was actually played in theaters during its release. “High School Musical 3” wishes it could compare to this movie. And let’s not forget the actual premise of the movie either: a girl, living her best life on a school trip to Rome, being mistaken for a pop sensation? Iconic. And who could forget the unforgettable line, “sing to me Paolo,” that made just about every tween girl suddenly want to become an empowered young woman? There are few movies that can compare to this Disney Channel Original Movie. — Melanie

“Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire”
If you were ever home sick between the ages of five and 10, you know “Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire.” I swear Disney Channel had this movie playing one day a week for at least 10 years during a daytime T.V. slot. Hence, as a perpetually sick child, I watched it quite a lot. Going along with the late 90’s grunge trend, “Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire” is a fair bit darker than most other Disney Originals. It tells the story of a recently-divorced mother of two who starting to date again while maintaining her career — a very modern premise for a Disney movie, I might add. She meets a vampire predator who’s been preying on her for some time and agrees to go on a date with him despite her children’s pleas. The dates that follow put everyone — kids and parents alike — on edge as they watch the disaster unravel. To be blunt, this a very adult type of children’s movie. There are creepy men, violent deaths and possibly even hints of a rape scene. But despite this, it was still a blast to watch when I was younger and it still makes for a great Saturday night in. That being said, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for your niece and nephew. — Claire

Smart House”
Forget a rent-controlled studio in the heart of Williamsburg — this was truly the dream home. Complete with an automated wardrobe, metamorphic rooms and an overprotective robotic house that thinks it is the mother of a family, what’s not to love? The story follows recently widowed father Nick Cooper (Kevin Kilner) and his two children, Ben (Ryan Merriman) and Angie (Katie Volding) as they win the lottery and move into a hi-tech smart house. While the house seems to cater to the Coopers’ every need, Ben re-programs the house to serve as a maternal figure, eventually leading to the house taking over the Coopers’ lives and locking the family inside. While all the futuristic gadgets and NSYNC-soundtracked dance sequences may seem cheesy now, “Smart House” seemed to be the ultimate glimpse into the future for early ‘00s kids. — Nicole

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“Minutemen”
This film is an underrated sci-fi classic in the pantheon of DCOMs. “Good Luck Charlie” fan-favorite Jason Dolley stars as high school outcast, Virgil Fox, who invents a time machine with his two other friends, Charlie Tuttle and Zeke Thompson (Luke Benward and Nicholas Braun), and uses it to go back in time to prevent embarrassing situations from happening. The film dives into the usual high school social clique tropes that dominate multiple DCOMs, but the time travel gimmick is used to great effect to make the film endlessly entertaining. “Minutemen” does a surprisingly good job of adhering to a reasonable logic surrounding its time travel and escalates to a point where a black hole opens up in the kids’ school and the teens have to work with the FBI to save the day. These teen heroes are inspiring and some of the best protagonists to have graced Disney Channel. Dolley, Benward and Braun give earnest, mature performances with electric chemistry that makes them a wonderful trio to revisit time and again. — Guru

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