55. Life Is Ruff (2005)
This is a movie about a teenage boy who adopts a dog solely for the purpose of entering him in a dog show to win money to buy the last comic in his Gotham Man collection. Star Kyle Massey’s face says it all.
54. The Poof Point (2001)
After a technical malfunction, a married pair of scientists begin regressing in age (only mentally though — not full-on Benjamin Button) and their kids (one of whom is played by Tahj Mowry) realize that the fish their parents were experimenting on regressed to the point of disappearing, hence the title. Hence the ranking.
53. The Other Me (2000)
Two Andy Lawrences are not always better than one. In this Orphan Black-meets-Alex Mack tale, Lawrence plays a seventh-grader named Will who accidentally clones himself using a kit from the “Ocean Pups” science organization after stirring water with his comb that has his hair on it. His clone is named Twoie, there is a kidnapping storyline, Alison Pill plays Will’s sister, and for the love of HSM, this dancing needs to stop.
52. Right on Track (2003)
Lucy from 7th Heaven plays a girl who’s into driving racecars, but regrettably little else about this movie is memorable, possibly because it’s based on a true story, and as a result doesn’t include enough of the requisite supernatural elements or high school cafeteria drama that make DCOMS so good.
51. Go Figure (2005)
A figure skater winds up on the girls’ hockey team at a fancy boarding school and her teammates are not fans of hers. “If they didn’t hate me so much, how would I know how good I was?” said figure skater wonders. Yawn. But points for the Kristi Yamaguchi cameo.
50. Ring of Endless Light (2002)
Points for pre-O.C. Mischa Barton, but deductions for this being the most melodramatic DCOM ever.
49. Quints (2000)
This was Disney Channel favorite Kimberly J. Brown at her most annoying: Selfish big sister Jamie (good name though) was not understanding of the fact that her parents had to care for not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE new babies. And Jamie’s breaking-the-fourth-wall spiels were extra self-indulgent. If it wasn’t for Jake Epstein (or Craig Manning, as Degrassi lovers know him), this movie would be at the bottom of the list.
48. Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior (2006)
No one wants to cheer for the popular girl campaigning to be homecoming queen.
47. You Wish! (2003)
A not-particularly-memorable DCOM with a familiar plot: Nerdy little brother and cool older brother end up with a magical coin that grants a wish; cool older brother wishes little brother would cease to exist; wish comes true (kind of) and everyone learns a lesson: Be careful what you wish for, etc., etc.
46. Dadnapped (2009)
Bryan MacKenzie from the Father of the Bride films stars as the father of Haley Joel Osment’s sister Emily (of Hannah Montana fame). The movie also stars Moises Arias who was also on Hannah Montana and is now basically a member of the Pinkett-Smith family. Life is strange.
45. Cow Belles (2006)
The Michalka sisters (a staple of mid-‘00s Disney Channel and the ladies behind some fantastic songs) star as a Paris Hilton/Nicole Richie-esque duo of spoiled girls who nearly burn their house down and then are forced to work at the family dairy. Bonus: The Vampire Diaries fans will notice Tyler Lockwood plays one Michalka’s love interest.
44. Horse Sense (1999)
Working at a dairy and/or on a farm is apparently a common DCOM punishment, especially if you are starring in it with your real-life sibling. In this one, which stars the eldest and youngest Lawrence brothers, a mean 20-year-old living in L.A. is forced to spend time on his cousin’s ranch in Montana. Next.
43. Tru Confessions (2002)
Shia LaBeouf plays a teenager named Eddie with a developmental disability whose twin sister Tru is making a documentary about him in this DCOM, which also features Mare Winningham. It is probably the least douchey LaBeouf has ever been (Holes included), but, much like The Color of Friendship (more on that later) it’s a little too much #realtalk to be appropriately fun DCOM fodder. No choreographed dancing? Moving on.
42. Jumping Ship (2001)
The sequel to Horse Sense deserves slightly better placement on this list for four reasons: 1) Middle Lawrence brother Matthew joins, 2) It is set in Australia, 3) There are pirates, 4) Reverend Camden from 7th Heaven is in it. Nice headscarf, Joe.
41. Read It and Weep (2006)
Everything about this movie is so 2006: the sequins, the hairstyles, and the fact that the plot centers around a diary kept on a tablet PC.
40. Twitches (2005)
Tia and Tamera play — you guessed it — twins. Twin witches. (Note: There was a Twitches sequel — and some other follow-ups and lesser remembered DCOMs — that didn’t even land on this list. They can’t all be winners.)
39. The Color of Friendship (2000)
Disney Channel and apartheid are not a recipe for success. This is definitely the most racially charged DCOM (and perhaps piece of Disney Channel content) ever. Set in the late ‘70s in Washington D.C., black teen Piper Dellums is excited to host an African exchange student, until she finds out it’s a white South African girl named Mahree. There are a lot of tense moments (including an argument over the word “caffer,” shown above), but it ends with a pretty hokey kumbaya moment in which Mahree joins the Dellums family at an African pride event. Not exactly historically accurate.
38. Now You See It… (2005)
Aly Michalka plays a teen reality show producer (what?) who is making a show about child magicians (again, what?) and it turns out the magic is *real*.
37. Under Wraps (1997)
It’s about a mummy named Harold, which, LOL.
36. Tiger Cruise (2004)
The cast is top notch: Hayden Panettiere, her brother Jensen, and Bill Pullman. In fact, this movie probably would’ve done better on our ranking had it not, half way through, addressed the 9/11 attacks. No thanks, Disney Channel. This is not what we came for.
35. The Scream Team (2002)
Spooky DCOMs are the best DCOMs. In this one, a family with two children moves into the town where their grandfather has just died and the son thinks his spirit is trying to tell them something. He and his sister start doing some investigating and eventually come in contact with a trio of ghosts dubbed the Soul Patrol, who look for fellow spirits who don’t want to cross over. There is murder, mystery, Kathy Najimy, shitty special effects, and a young Kat Dennings.
34. ‘Twas The Night (2001)
Relatively innocuous made-for-TV Christmas fare, buoyed by the appearance of BRYAN CRANSTON. Yes. THAT Bryan Cranston.
33. Up, Up, and Away (2000)
There is nothing cooler than a family of superheroes, especially one with George Jefferson as its patriarch, saving the city under the alias of “The Steel Condor,” who has the gifts of superhuman strength, invulnerability, and flight, and who also feuds with Superman. Bad fucking ass.
32. Going to the Mat (2004)
Look, it’s another Andy Lawrence movie. In this one, he’s a blind high school student who plays the drums, says occasionally cheesy things, and becomes a star on the wrestling team.
31. Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off (2003)
A pleasant-enough story of a kid who wants to be a celebrity chef, but whose dad wants him to play baseball. It goes on to include one of the core themes of Disney Channel movies — kids figuring out that what they want isn’t always what their parents want, and the parents eventually coming to terms with it.
30. Phantom of the Megaplex (2000)
Crazy ass Oliver Trask from The O.C. stars in this DCOM that’s based on The Phantom of the Opera, but set in a movie theater. And Mickey Rooney (RIP) plays an elderly movie fan! This is the stuff of legend, people.
29. Princess Protection Program (2009)
Remember when Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato were BFFAEAEAEs?! Here is the DCOM to prove it.
28. Stuck in the Suburbs (2004)
You guys, Saturday Night Live star Taran Killam plays a frosted-tipped pop star named Jordan Cahill who has a hit song includes the lyric “Every day that goes by I’m living my life for you (oooohhhh)” unironically. We cannot stress the importance of this movie enough.
27. Miracle in Lane 2 (2000)
This movie, the story of a teenage boy in a wheelchair who takes up soapbox racing, is prime turn-of-the-millenium Frankie Muniz. You can decide whether or not that is a good thing.
26. High School Musical 2 (2007)
High School Musical was an instant classic, High School Musical 3 was a big screen extravaganza, and High School Musical 2 is the redheaded stepchild of the HSM franchise. Sure, there were fun poolside scenes (courtesy of Sharpay) and other songs we still can’t spell (“Humuhumunukunukuapua’a.” SERIOUSLY?!), but “Bet On It” is easily the best-worst thing the trilogy ever offered us. Never has a golf green felt so many feels.
25. Mom’s Got a Date With a Vampire (2000)
Sabrina The Teenage Witch actress Caroline Rhea took a very slight detour in the monster world to play a divorcee whose children are convinced she’s dating a vampire, who is played by Mr. Sheffield from The Nanny. Also, another DCOM with Jake Epstein is a beautiful thing.
24. The Ultimate Christmas Present (2000)
In this Christmas tale starring the little girl from You’ve Got Mail (Hallee Hirsh), Disney Channel diehard Brenda Song, and Bosom Buddies alum/Hannah Horvath’s dad Peter Scolari as a weather man, a tween winds up bringing snow to Los Angeles. It’s every West Coast kid’s dream come true. Plus, there is a Friends reference and a shit-ton of butterfly clips. It’s worth another watch.
23. The Thirteenth Year (1999)
Here lies possibly the greatest Disney tagline of all time: “Cody’s not just growing up… he’s growing fins!”
22. Zenon: The Zequel (2001)
Many sequels did not earn spots on this list and of course, few works of art in this world can compete with the original Zenon, but the Zequel manages to hold its own with an entertaining plot featuring homeless aliens and hearththrob Proto Zoa.
21. The Cheetah Girls 2 (2006)
Because who doesn’t want to strut like they mean it through the streets of Spain with a personal floppy-haired guitarist who eventually becomes your love interest? NOBODY. Also, this is the last Cheetah Girls film with Raven-Symoné. Pour one out for Galleria.
20. Jump In! (2007)
Corbin Bleu is the Disney-est of Disney Channel stars and his luscious locks, smooth moves, and toothpaste-commercial smile were rewarded with his own DCOM about double dutch and boxing that includes the very witty and oh-so-’90s team name Hot Chili Steppers. BRB, listening to “Push It to the Limit” on repeat.
19. Pixel Perfect (2004)
In an indiscernible future, sadly-largely-forgotten Disney Channel hunk Ricky Ullman (aka Phil of the Future) creates a dancing hologram to join his best friend Sam’s (Leah Pipes, who now stars on The Originals as Cami) band in need of a girl with all the right moves. Soon, a love triangle begins and “Notice Me” is sung and it is glorious.
18. Camp Rock (2008)
Just look at Joe Jonas’ hair, you guys. JUST LOOK AT IT! It is easily the No. 1 most wonderfully horrendous ‘do in all of Disney Channel Original Movie history. Unfortunately, Demi Lovato’s Mitchie is so painfully annoying, we couldn’t rank this movie stronger. It’s actually where it’s supposed to be now.
17. Motocrossed (2001)
It’s basically the plot of She’s the Man, except with extreme sports. What is not to love?
16. Rip Girls (2000)
Why are people in movies about Hawaii always inheriting large plots of land on which someone wants to build a shopping center? That aside, Rip Girls is mostly a sweet story of tween girl friendship, starring a young Camilla Belle. If it didn’t make you want to learn to surf, it at least made you want to rush to the Pac Sun in the mall and get a pair of cool board shorts.
15. Stepsister from Planet Weird (2000)
In a plot that could work only in a Disney Channel Original Movie, our protagonist finds herself living with an alien stepsister when her mother starts dating an alien man named Cosmo. In a perfectly quirky twist, it turns out being a low-key undercover alien makes you cool at high school. And in Disney’s tradition of highlighting obscure sports, the mom is obsessed with windsurfing.
14. Full Court Miracle (2003)
The Jewish sports movie you never knew you wanted, starring Alex D. Linz of Home Alone 3 and One Fine Day fame. For the love of all that is holy, the title is a Hanukkah pun! Surely, this DCOM alienated all the goy Disney Channel viewers, but we got through ‘Twas the Night and The Ultimate Christmas Present. (And yes, on the left that’s David Sazant, who played the Marymount Mathlete Captain in Mean Girls.)
13. Gotta Kick It Up! (2002)
A super charming story of a middle school dance team, featuring America Ferrera, is the best kind of inspirational sports movie: actually inspiring, and more about finding yourself than about sports. Si se puede!
12. Wish Upon a Star (1996)
An awkward, flannel shirt-wearing younger sister (who inexplicably sticks chewed up gum everywhere) wishes on a shooting star that she could become her older, bitchy, popular crop-top-wearing, football-player-boyfriend-having older sister, played by Katherine Heigl in the role she was born to play. “I wish I was Alexia Wheaton.”
11. Johnny Tsunami (1999)
A surfer dude is forced to become a snowboarder dude when his family moves from Hawaii to Vermont. The turf war between preppy skiers and their nemesis snowboarders is one of Disney’s best.
10. Double Teamed (2002)
There are few things more glorious than the Disney Channel naming a film after a sexual innuendo and having it center on twins who are played by actresses who barely even look alike. Still, the real-life story of WNBA twin sisters Heather and Heidi Burge was a rare, slightly more grown-up DCOM and not just because of its suggestive name.
9. Get a Clue (2002)
Lindsay Lohan plays a Harriet the Spy meets Blair Waldorf character who runs around Manhattan investigating a teacher’s disappearance. What more do you need in life?
8. Halloweentown (1998)
We may not have needed FOUR Halloweentowns, but the original is a classic. Who doesn’t love a young witch’s coming-of-age story with Debbie Reynolds as the fun, but sage, elder witch guiding one through the powerful process? Eat your heart out, Sabrina.
7. Alley Cats Strike (2000)
Like approximately a third of Disney Channel Original Movies, the plot centers around an East High vs. West High rivalry that can only be solved in an athletic contest — in this case, bowling. Alley Cats has all the attributes to make this a classic of the genre: the “weird” but hot underdog who saves the day, the popular jock who befriends him, and a dad whose small business gets saved along the way.
6. Cadet Kelly (2002)
Let’s be real: Kelly Collins was basically Lizzie McGuire uprooted to George Washington Military Academy, where she was under the surveillance of her stepdad (aka “Sir,” aka Gary Cole) and her cadet captain (Disney Channel favorite Christy Carlson Romano). With the addition of some ribbon dancing and future Iceman Shawn Ashmore, plus the important life lesson about staying true to oneself while testing your limits, Cadet Kelly withstands the test of time.
5. The Cheetah Girls (2003)
If there was any upside to the deterioration of 3LW, it came in the form of The Cheetah Girls, the less-often-recognized-but-thoroughly-enjoyable trilogy among the DCOM series. A) Raven-Symoné plays a young diva named Galleria, B) Kiely Williams moved on from “promithes, promithes” to take on the role of Aquanetta, and C) The Cheetah Girls had more girl power in their animal-printed newsboy caps than the Spice Girls. You know you still have “Cinderella” in your iTunes.
4. High School Musical (2006)
The Disney Channel Original Movie that revived the Disney Channel Original Movie for a slightly different generation was admittedly even a favorite among those who enjoyed the Wish Upon A Stars of the collection. The Grease-like musical introduced us to Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and a slew of future Dancing with the Stars cast members as well as the second best song in the DCOM arsenal: “We’re All In This Together.” (It’s OK if you’re singing it now and doing the dance moves in your head. No judgment here.)
3. Smart House (1999)
Today, we have wi-fi lightbulbs, and Apple recently announced you’ll soon be able to tell your iPhone you want to get ready for bed, so would you dim the lights, please? But these technological advancements are nothing compared to the true “smart house,” a kind of mid-century housewife Siri named Pat (Katey Segal!) that Ben Cooper (Disney mainstay and eventual Pretty Little Liars star Ryan Merriman) and his family win in some sort of raffle.
2. Brink! (1998)
It’s the late ’90s, a Friday night, and you and your friends or siblings are huddled around one of those little TV sets that has a built-in VCR. What are you watching? Probably Brink!. If it wasn’t the first DCOM you saw, it was probably the one that got you hooked. Brink! tells the story of a talented inline skater who wrestles with the option of leaving behind his crew of “soul” skaters and selling out for sponsorships to help out his struggling family — but being forced to hang out with a bunch of assholes. The movie goes through all the hallmarks of a classic DCOM — a completely random but cool-looking sport, the nice guys and the mean guys, and a good-hearted kid who wants to help his dad’s business. In the end, the good guys win. Because that’s the way it should be.
1. Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century (1999)
When kids of the ’90s talk wistfully about DCOMs, it usually goes something like this: “OMG! Remember Zenon?” And of course, how could you not remember the greatest DCOM of all time, with its campy space station lifestyle, Raven Symoné, glittery sartorial choices, and beloved music? Zoom zoom zoom, you make my heart go boom boom, Zenon. Always.