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“Brink!” (1998) is a classic sports flick.
Once upon a time, Disney Channel was all about making sports-themed movies, and “Brink!” started it all.
It was the fourth Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM), and it centered on a group of inline skaters.
Andy “Brink” Brinker (Erik von Detten) led the Soul-Skaters, who were all about blading for the love and community of the sport. But their rivals, Val (Sam Horrigan) and the Team X-Bladz, were only in it for the money.
Throughout the movie, Brink is tested when he gets a little taste of wealth after skating with the enemy.
“Halloweentown” (1998) is a must-watch in the fall, but it’s great all year round.
Finding out you come from a long line of witches, have magical powers, and can access a whole other world is the dream. That’s why “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” is so great and why “Halloweentown” was an instant classic.
On Halloween, Marnie (Kimberly J. Brown) finds out her grandma Aggie (Debbie Reynolds) is actually a witch who lives in Halloweentown.
Now that she knows the truth about her family, Marnie sneaks off to the magical realm for more details and adventure. But she ends up getting more than she bargained for when she and her siblings have to save the entire town from an evil warlock.
“Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century” (1999) is a sweet and bubbly film.
“Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century” has everything you want in a classic teen film: killer outfits, out-of-this-world catchphrases, sweet friendships, budding romance, awkward first kisses, a heartthrob singer, and a teen girl foiling the plans of an evil adult.
Set in the year 2049, the film follows 13-year-old Zenon (Kirsten Storms), who lives with her family on a space station. But after getting in trouble, she’s sent to live with her aunt on Earth.
There, she has to learn to fit in with a whole new environment, navigate first love, shut down a greedy businessman’s plot to destroy her real home, and do whatever it takes to make it back for the Proto Zoa (Phillip Rhys) concert.
Even if the tech looks outdated, “Smart House” (1999) will never get old.
Imagine a house that can make any food or drink you want, clean any mess, and learn your likes and dislikes to predict your next need. That’s the kind of house Ben Cooper (Ryan Merriman) and his family win in “Smart House.”
As with most movies about extremely powerful and all-consuming technologies, the excitement only lasts a short while before the home’s AI begins to takeover.
When their lives are put on the line, the Cooper family must work together to fight back against the power-hungry virtual assistant.
Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there was “Up, Up, and Away” (2000).
Superhero movies are wildly popular, so it’s almost surprising that Disney Channel didn’t make more, but it’d be hard to top “Up, Up, and Away.”
Scott (Michael J. Pagan) is from a family of superheroes, and all he wants is for his powers to manifest before his 14th birthday. Feeling like a disappointment, Scott pretends to have the powers of flight and superhuman strength to fit in.
This comes back to bite him when his parents decide to let him show off his new abilities by saving a damsel in distress — they both end up needing to be saved because of Scott’s lies.
But when a villain starts brainwashing kids and their parents, it’s up to Scott to prove to his family, and himself, that he’s more than enough to save the day with or without powers.
“Motocrossed” (2001) is Disney Channel’s “Twelfth Night” reimagining.
Adaptations of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” are plentiful. But before there was “She’s the Man” (2006), there was “Motocrossed.”
All Andy (Alana Austin) wants is to compete in motocross racing like her brother Andrew (Trever O’Brien), but their dad doesn’t believe the track is the right place for a girl.
When Andrew gets injured, Andy goes undercover as her brother and takes his place in the motocross circuit. But things get a little complicated when she starts to fall for fellow racer and new friend Dean (Riley Smith).
“Cadet Kelly” (2002) brought two Disney Channel powerhouses together.
“Cadet Kelly” put two early-2000s Disney Channel icons — Hilary Duff from “Lizzie McGuire” and Christy Carlson Romano from “Even Stevens” — together in one epic enemies-to-friends movie.
Free-spirited Kelly (Duff) gets a wake-up call when she’s forced to attend her stepdad’s strict military academy.
Cadet Captain Jennifer Stone (Romano) makes Kelly’s life hell until they come together to pull off a historic drill-team performance set to Superchick’s “One Girl Revolution.”
“Gotta Kick It Up!” (2002) is a heartwarming dance flick.
Everyone loves a good dance movie. Add in a great cast and a plot that’s inspired by a true story, and it’s made even better.
“Gotta Kick It Up” starring Camille Guaty and America Ferrera centers on a group of girls from an LA middle school who do everything it takes to bring their dance team to victory after adjusting to a new coach.
“Right on Track” (2003) was another sports movie inspired by a true story.
Based on another true story, “Right on Track” follows the rise of sisters Erica (Beverley Mitchell) and Courtney Enders (Brie Larson) in the world of junior drag racing.
The competitive siblings have their sights set on winning and they’re willing to put in the work above everything, including school, friends, and romance.
On her way to the top, Erica must also stand up against mean girls at school and sexist fellow racers in the male-dominated sport.
“Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off” (2003), “High School Musical” (2006), and “Jump In!” (2007) all tell the same lovable story.
These are grouped together because they make the perfect trifecta of “athletic male finds new hobby deemed less masculine by his friends and society and must make a choice between his two hobbies as conflicting events arise” movies. All three also have great “it’s not my dream, dad, it’s yours” energy.
In “Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off,” the titular character (Taylor Ball) must choose between the baseball team his dad coaches and his newfound love for cooking when the league finals and a big cooking competition are scheduled on the same day.
In “High School Musical,” Troy (Zac Efron) must choose between basketball (on a team that’s also coached by his dad) and the callbacks for the school musical with his new love, Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens). And, of course, it’s all mixed together with some boppin’ musical moments.
In “Jump In,” Izzy (Corbin Bleu) is forced to pick between boxing, like his dad, or competing in double dutch. Though the big fight and the
competition end up being a day apart, Izzy’s still pressured by friends and his dad in what is truly one of the best-written and best-acted DCOMs.
“The Cheetah Girls” (2003) was a whole cultural moment.
Before there were mega DCOM franchises like “High School Musical,” “Camp Rock,” “Descendants,” and “Zombies,” “The Cheetah Girls” paved the way.
Centered on a group of girls with a love for performing in cheetah-themed attire, the movie showed how powerful female friendships can be, even when drama, romance, and record deals try to get in the way.
With the help of a catchy soundtrack and Raven-Symoné’s star power — along with Adrienne Bailon, Sabrina Bryan, and Kiely Williams — it spawned two sequels, multiple albums, live tours, and a whole merchandise line.
Fans saw a different side of their favorite Disney Channel star in “Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior” (2006).
Brenda Song is more than enough of a reason to put “Wendy Wu” at the top of your must-watch DCOM list.
After playing supporting roles in two DCOMs and on two Disney Channel shows, this one was all her.
Much to her dismay, Wendy (Song) has to put her high-school life on hold to become a warrior and defeat an evil spirit from destroying the world — with the help of a cute monk named Shen (Shin Koyamada).
There’s training montages, romance, and humor throughout.
No one was prepared for the star power of “Camp Rock” (2008).
Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas falling in love at summer camp? Count me in.
Add in the rest of the Jonas Brothers and a couple of killer musical performances, and you have “Camp Rock.”
After watching this movie and falling in love, there are so many fun details to pick up during the next rewatch, too.