I think and write about Disney Channel Original Movies regularly because I love them. Many of us DCOM enthusiasts know exactly which DCOMs are mysteriously missing from Disney+. Some of us also love to talk about the cut-off between DCOMs and their predecessors, “Disney Channel Premiere Films.”
You know all the movies (like Premiere Films) the Disney Channel would air that weren’t actually DCOMs? There are many of them, and I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorites! Just consider these my lucky 7 “honorary DCOMs.” I managed to represent three decades and a handful of memorable stories that you might love, too!
The Paper Brigade
The Paper Brigade holds a special place in my heart. Gunther Wheeler (Kyle Howard) is a New York City teen who moves to a small town and quickly crushes on a pretty girl. When bullies present him with the opportunity to buy concert tickets, Gunther works as a paper boy to save up and take his crush on a date. There are all kinds of shenanigans as Gunther runs around town with the Paper Brigade. A huge bonus is that Joey Miyashima (coach from Double Teamed, principal from High School Musical) plays the milkman. Sadly, this one has become pretty rare. Maybe we should make a petition for Disney+ to add it.
Another quick note that makes this Disney Channel Premiere Film interesting: the exact release date is a bit ambiguous. It’s most likely in 1996, with a video release in 1997. I’ll report back when I track that info down!
This 2000 TV movie is one of the best from The Wonderful World of Disney. Maggie Lawson doubles up as Alex Burroughs, a “normal” girl, and Janine Adams, a model. The teens bump into each other at an event Alex and her dad are catering. It’s the ultimate switch-a-roo, giving Janine a chance to go to high school while Alex has the opportunity to live a so-called glamorous life. The film is so memorable because it gives two completely different young women a chance to live in each other’s worlds. Also, *NSYNC’s “Here We Go” plays at the beginning, and I remember jamming out to that song before I even hit kindergarten. And yes, JT plays one of the love interests, “pretty boy Jason Sharp.” If you remember that line, we need to talk. 🙂 We get Kathie Lee Gifford and Nobody’s Angel, too?! This movie is like hitting the new millennium jackpot.
Ah, Life-Size. It came out just a week before Model Behavior and stars Lindsay Lohan and Tyra Banks. Lindsay’s character, Casey, loves football and can’t stand dolls. That means it’s the worst thing ever when her dad’s co-worker/potential love interest gives Casey a doll for her birthday. The Barbie look-a-like is Eve, who comes to life when Casey is trying to bring back her deceased mother. As disappointed as Casey is for her spell to go awry, she bonds with Eve and is genuinely sad when it’s time for the woman to become a doll again. Lindsay Lohan and Tyra Banks made such a great team in this unique family classic.
Eve really is a star, and I can still sing the entire “Be a Star” song for you. I also love the “C’est La Vie” montage where Eve is trying on outfits like the one pictured above. Another movie Disney+ needs to load up ASAP.
And now, the middle of the list, the only movie here that’s not from the 90s or 2000s! 16 Wishes stars Debby Ryan and premiered in 2010. Why isn’t it a DCOM, you ask? The movie was a joint effort between Disney Channel and MarVista Entertainment, with a co-production partner from Unity Pictures. Still, it definitely felt like a DCOM. Debby Ryan is Abby Jensen, a girl with high aspirations for her 16th birthday. When her wish list turns into a weird alternate reality, Abby realizes that her life before might not have been so bad. The music is perfectly 2010, and Jean-Luc Bilodeau from Baby Daddy is so great here. I think this movie stands out to me because it premiered in the US about a month before I turned 16. And I was still watching the Disney Channel! Good times.
I wrote a bit more about Seventeen Again (2000) on my “Tahj Mowry Appreciation Day” post, but I must place it on an honorary DCOM list. Honestly, I think a lot of us thought this one really was a DCOM for awhile. It actually premiered on Showtime before Disney Channel edited it to their liking. If you check out the full version, you’ll likely notice a sex education scene you never saw watching the movie on Disney!
As I’ve said, having Tia, Tamera, and Tahj together is simply the best. I think it’s so fun to watch Tia and Tamera as granddaughter and grandmother, respectively (Tamera’s character, Cat, accidentally bathes with de-aging soap created by her grandson and becomes young again, along with the grandpa). This film is a mix of sci-fi, romance, comedy, and the glorious year 2000.
Wish Upon A Star
We find ourselves gazing upon another Disney Channel Premiere Film, one that’s often discussed along with Susie Q (which is not one I remember as well, and frankly, kind of a depressing one). Wish Upon a Star is Katherine Heigl’s claim to fame since she played the older sister, Alexia Wheaton. Danielle Harris is the little sister, Hayley Wheaton. Hayley wishes on a star that she can be Alexia, and she wakes up the next morning in Alexia’s body. The big sis isn’t too pleased to have to live as Hayley, but the siblings grow so much closer through all the body-switching and high school drama.
The style sticks in my mind for this film–so many mini-skirts and heels! so much make-up! Go watch it if you haven’t seen it in awhile. You will notice how the flavor is not DCOM, but still delightful (and yeah, very 1996).
My Date with the President’s Daughter
My Date with the President’s Daughter is so Disney Channel that it’s hard to believe it’s not a DCOM. This one first aired on The Wonderful World of Disney in 1998 and stars Will Friedle as Duncan Fletcher, the lucky guy who goes on a date with Hallie Richmond (Elisabeth Harnois). Hallie doesn’t tell Duncan that she’s the president’s daughter. He gets to find out when he rolls up to the White House in the company car his dad did not give him permission to drive.
Duncan and Hallie’s night is hilarious, heartfelt, and full of surprises. It’s a shame that this one isn’t on Disney+ either, especially with that rockin’ theme song by the Presidents of the United States. I would totally wear that pink dress today, and I’ve gotta say, this is one of the non-DCOMs I remember best. Disney Channel played it quite frequently for a few years and made us feel like it was one of their own. I’m thankful to have grown up with such great honorary DCOMs to supplement the canon.
Are there any I didn’t mention that you particularly love? 🙂