As someone who has given little more than an iota of a fuck about a Disney movie in well over a decade, news that the rapidly monopolizing studio giant was unveiling a streaming service called Disney Plus piqued little interest. Access to every Disney theatrical release sounds great for parents, and access to every Marvel movie is ideal if you are Martin Scorsese’s personal enemy; you get that and more (Star Wars movies, Fox programming, and original programming) with Disney Plus. But if you are neither, cannot remember the last Pixar film you watched, and don’t feel like paying $7 a month to have access to both The Little Mermaid and Malcolm in the Middle, there appeared to be little incentive to tack on yet another monthly subscription service to your growing list of subscription services.
That’s what I thought until Disney Plus tweeted a list of “basically everything” coming to Disney Plus when it debuts in the United States on November 12. It is with a heavy heart that I must report that I am, in fact, interested in Disney Plus, but only for the Disney Channel Original Movies.
I do not need to watch Aladdin for the billionth time. And as sacrilege as it is that I have yet to see Up or Rattitouille or whatever other brilliant Pixar film I’ve missed out on (people keep telling me Coco is worth seeing, but keep in mind I still haven’t seen Wall-e). Why waste my time watching revered films and classics when I can watch 2000 Disney Channel Original Movie Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire, starring Aunt Hilda from Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the dad from The Nanny (he’s the vampire!) instead?
There’s also Smart House (1999), in which Katey Sagal plays Pat, a proto-Alexa smart house system who is programmed to act as a surrogate mother. The kids are perfectly fine with using Pat to whip up smoothies and “activate some kick-butt video screens,” but aren’t so cool when her motherly protection gets too advanced and she traps the family inside the house.
The classic era of Disney Channel Original Movies—which I loosely define as 1998 to 2009—provided a steady stream of TV junk food: mildly entertaining movies starring familiar Disney Channel stars. These movies were nightly staples for younger millennials and older Gen-Zers, and while the occasional DCOM was relatively deep or introspective (Don’t Look Under the Bed and Tru Confessions, featuring a young Shia LaBeouf, comes to mind), most were predictable comedies and dramas about teens overcoming obstacles or finding themselves in outlandish situations.
Unfortunately, watching classic DCOMs has become an increasingly laborious task, unless you want to pay YouTube or don’t mind finding a 480p quality bootleg stream that looks like it was filmed with a potato. Forking over your money to Disney could solve this problem. Unfortunately, it means forking over your money to Disney. But considering the plethora of DCOMs I could watch... it might be worth considering.
Other Disney Channel Original Movies coming to Disney Plus include:
Brink: Erik Von Detten is a dreamy indie inline-skater who sells out and becomes a sponsored skater to support his family. There’s ska.
The Thirteenth Year: A boy goes through puberty and also turns into a merman.
Johnny Tsunami: A movie that somehow manages to teach you about class war because the ski-kids are posh prep school assholes and the snowboarders are nice and go to public school.
Up, Up, and Away: A kid from a family of black superheroes realizes he doesn’t have any superpowers, but tries to fake it until he can make it. This family’s kryptonite is aluminum foil.
Motocrossed: Loosely inspired by Twelfth Night, a girl impersonates her twin brother to help him with a motocross racing scholarship after an injury makes him unable to compete. Shenanigans, naturally, ensue.
Zenon Girl of the 21st Century: Teen from the year 2049 who lives on a space station is punished by being sent to live with a relative on Earth. Somehow gets wrapped up in a government conspiracy. People still use discs in this version of the future. The music slapped.
Luck of the Irish: The same kid from Smart House gets turned into a Leprechaun for very complicated plot reasons. There’s Irish step dancing.
The Color of Friendship: The movie that taught me what apartheid was. Kind of a bummer! Also, the only Disney Channel Original Movie to get away with airing the word “nigger” multiple times. I’m currently screaming at this scene.
Gotta Kick It Up: One of the few times Disney Channel acknowledged that Latinas exist
Get a Clue: An underrated Lindsay Lohan movie in which she and a small crew of New York City rich kids try to solve a mystery after their teacher goes missing, the whole movie is like a pre-teen Balenciaga ad. There was a weird music video with it:
Cadet Kelly: Hillary Duff is an art kid who is sent to military school, gets pushed around by her cadet captain Christy Carlson Romano (the sister from Even Stevens, voice of Kim Possible), and you are a homophobe if you didn’t ship it.
Pixel Perfect: That the guy from Phil of the Future creates a holographic girl named Loretta (???) to help his friend’s band gain some popularity, but then he ends up getting horny for the holograph! Meanwhile, his friend was begging for him to notice her, and not the holograph. Sad!
Stuck in the Suburbs: A wild string of events leads a suburban teen (played by Danielle Panabaker) to accidentally switch cell phones with a pop star who she and her BFF (played by Brenda Song) absolutely stan. You know, typical suburban shit!
Wendy Woo: Homecoming Warrior: Brenda Song is a prospective Homecoming Queen who discovers that she is the reincarnation of an ancient Chinese warrior. Yeah, I don’t know either.
All of the High School Musical movies: Bet on it!
Camp Rock: Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers sing loudly for 90 minutes and everyone has bangs. It’s all a cruel reminder of what 2008 looked like, as if my 12th grade yearbook photo wasn’t enough of one!
Here’s to being complicit in this evil machine.