Thanks to Netflix, the magic of Disney Channel Original Movies lives on, or does it? Cult favorites like The Cheetah Girls and Cadet Kelly were once a click away on the online streaming service that’s become as familiar as the DCOM intro song you got hype to as a kid every Friday night. But alas, Netflix giveth and Netflix taketh away. The Disney Channel original movies you forgot about didn’t stand a chance. And it seems that things will only get worse when Disney launches its own streaming service in 2019, practically ripping any nostalgia left from our cold, popcorn-greased, Netflix-binging hands.
Ugh, Johnny Tsunami would never! A true man of the people he was, but that’s not the point. Johnny Tsunami may live on in our hearts forever, but I’m willing to bet there are tons of other DCOMs you’ve long forgotten about. This list covers tales of alien step-siblings from faraway planets, science projects gone doubly wrong, and organized ghosts because yes, that’s what the DCOMs of your childhood were about.
There’s no shame in rewatching your DCOM favorites (and not-so-favorites) from time to time. In fact, it’s pretty entertaining. Do you notice plot holes you missed when you were younger? Do you get a good laugh at the characters you idolized back then? Surely, you can still quote every line from Quints or Get A Clue, but I’m guessing these 13 DCOM rejects either gotta kick it up or read it and weep.
Horse Sense (1999)
Remember the Lawrence brothers? Tell me you didn’t have a crush on one or two or all three of them as a kid. How could you not? They practically starred in any and everything the Disney gods touched and TBH, that’s fine by me. Horse Sense, starring Joey and Andrew Lawrence, followed the harrowing journey to self-discovery and family reunion between two previously estranged cousins. Both from different worlds, the boys struggle to see eye to eye until they learn the family ranch is on the line.
Rip Girls (2000)
I’ll never really know why surf movies were so popular in the ‘00s but I’m grateful that the trend gave us this Hawaiian-themed gem. A young girl named Sydney travels to the island for the first time with her dad and stepmother. There, she learns the truth about her deceased mother and discovers a side of herself she’d never known.
Stepsister from Planet Weird (2000)
Admittedly, this movie was the one that inspired my trip down memory lane. I mean, I spent weeks wishing for an alien step-sister even though my parents were (and still are) happily married. Sorry, Mom and Dad! On her home planet Zircalon, Ariel and her dad exist only as floating bubbles so when they take on solid, human forms on Earth, it’s obvious to almost everyone that something’s not right.
Ready to Run (2000)
OK, a horse with excellent taste in music? What’s not to love? This heartwarming movie is about a young girl named Corrie whose only dream is to be a jockey like her father was before he passed away. I’m noticing a DCOM theme here but I digress. Corrie’s thoroughbred horse Thunder Jam is cripplingly terrified of the starting gates, that is unless he can listen to music while he runs. And run right into your heart he will.
The Other Me (2000)
Another Lawrence-brother film, The Other Me is about a young boy Will (played by Andrew Lawrence) who accidentally clones himself. His clone, whom he names Twoie, turns out to be a genius so Will decides to send him to school instead of actually going himself. When Twoie’s school and family life seem to be going better than Will’s ever has, Will tries to reclaim his spot. The cops get involved, some wacky scientists are arrested, and Will and Twoie actually become close friends. I guess two really is better than one.
Jumping Ship (2001)
In a weird turn of events, this pirate-ship-desert-island movie is actually a sequel to the 1999 Horse Sense. Cousins Michael and Tommy decide to take a trip to Australia where they charter a luxury yacht. When the yacht is revealed to be a run-down fishing boat, the two sense they’re in for a wild ride. Targeted by pirates, they end up stranded on a desert island where they meet Jake (played by none other than Matthew Lawrence) who helps them escape. It wouldn’t be a DCOM if they didn’t learn some valuable lesson about hard work and… nepotism?
The Jennie Project (2001)
When a chimpanzee named Jennie joins a troubled family, she teaches them almost as much as they teach her. Lea Archibald, Jennie’s pseudo-mom, communicates with her in sign language better than the stodgy scientists do at the lab that Jennie belongs to. Together, the Archibald family fight for Jennie’s return back to Africa, where she was found.
The Scream Team (2002)
Halloweentown gets all the love in October for being Disney Channel’s best, original Halloween-themed movie. Marnie Piper is great and all and she’s right, being normal is vastly overrated, but I still think The Scream Team deserves just as much credit for spooky Halloween feels. It’s about kids Ian and Clare who join forces with a group of ghost-hunting ghosts (yup, you read that right) called the “Soul Patrol” to help their grandfather’s soul cross peacefully into the afterlife. Come on! That’s good stuff.
Ring of Endless Light (2002)
Vicky and her two younger siblings arrive on Seven Bay Island to spend the summer with their grandfather. There, Vicky learns that her grandfather is secretly ill and, of course, that she can communicate telepathically with dolphins. She teams up with two local boys to expose one company’s illegal use of drift nets, which has been putting dolphins at risk. It’s a summer she’ll never forget.
Full Court Miracle (2003)
When a group of young, Jewish basketball players need a new coach, they turn to college basketball star Lamont Carr. Based on a true story, the movie follows the team and their coach through a series of personal life challenges, including Carr’s temporary homelessness and his search for a more permanent basketball job after his life-altering knee injury. Through it all, they learn what it really means to be a team (even within their own families).
Right on Track (2003)
OK, I love this one because it’s all about girl power. Based on the true story of Courtney and Erica Enders, two sisters fight to be taken seriously as junior drag racers while balancing their academic and social lives. The Enders sisters go on to win the NHRA Junior Dragster national title and continue to race throughout their adult lives.
Go Figure (2005)
Surfing and ice skating—two sports I will forever wish I was good at thanks to DCOMs. Go Figure (not to be confused with the Walt Disney Pictures film Ice Princess) is about a young girl named Katelin who gets the opportunity to train with a famous Russian skating coach, Natasha Goberman. The only problem is that, in order to afford her ice-skating training, Katelin must also accept a hockey scholarship at the boarding school she will attend. Now, she’s forced to choose between supporting her hockey team and following her dream of being an Olympic skater.
Three friends discover that they can travel through time using a homemade time machine and, ultimately, decide to use their powers for good. They spend their time undoing their and their classmates’ most embarrassing mistakes. Sure, they get into a lot of trouble but they also learn the truth about loyalty and friendship.
I don’t know about you but I’d like to go back in time and rewatch all of these movies right now.