Minutemen (2008)

Minutemen (2008)

“Replay, hit rewind. This time you do it right. Run it back again.” Corbin Bleu sang those fitting lyrics for the DCOM Minutemen in 2008. It’s a story about friendship, popularity, relationships, and time. With glimmers of Back to the Future, this Disney Channel Original Movie stands out in its era. Not a movie musical. Not too much of a sports story. Just a high school tale where a whiz kid hacks NASA in order to time travel with his friends.

Jason Dolley is one of my DCOM heroes. He and Brenda Song were in so many of these movies in the 2000s. Dolley plays Virgil Fox (my husband tells me that’s also the name of a famous organist), a teen who once lost his chance to be one of “the cool kids.” Luke Benward plays Charlie Tuttle, the NASA code stealer. Nicholas Braun is Zeke Thompson, the silent loner type. Those three form the core trio: Minutemen aka Snowsuit Guys. I’m telling you, January was the perfect release month for this film. Those snowsuits are a whole vibe.

Chelsea Kane/Staub is Stephanie Jameson, Virgil’s friend he wants to date. But she’s dating Derek Beaugard, and Derek Beaugard cheats on Stephanie with Jocelyn. Boooooo Derek!

Minutemen when they become famous for time travel

Let me back up. This isn’t just a time travel movie. It’s multi-purpose time travel. The Minutemen want to use their powers to do good. Notably, they want to help all the historically “uncool” kids who are tortured on a daily basis. The principal in this movie (played by J.P. Manoux from Phil of the Future) won’t even reprimand the bullies! It’s up to the Snowsuit Guys to help the victims. They show up with clothes for Chester when he’s left naked in the locker room — the previous version of Chester’s day saw him forced to streak. Similarly, Virgil stops Eugene from spilling food on himself when Jocelyn causes him to slip while he’s waiting tables (like the first version of events), and instead, Eugene spills his mopping supplies all over Jocelyn and her posse. The crappy people get their comeuppance in this film.

However, Eugene and Chester become snooty after the Minutemen help them. Derek, the popular jock, is affected at his big football game. Chester is no longer a target for locker room heists, but he streaks out on the football field anyway, distracting Derek and causing him to lose the game. Derek’s girlfriend, Stephanie, knows about the Snowsuit Guys, so she tries to get Virgil to go back in time and change the game. And the time travel becomes more and more superficial, with Derek later asking Virgil to rewind the clock when Derek’s caught cheating on Stephanie. He actually agrees. Virgil seems to have lost his way. Throw in a couple of lottery tickets, and this time travel business is not what it was meant to be.

Kara Crane

Charlie is the dearest friend. When he’s not cracking the code and putting his intelligence to good use, he’s thinking about his cat, Mr. Felinestein, or maybe even his cute crush and space-time continuum assistant, Jeanette (they kiss!!). Charlie is hurt when Virgil starts ignoring him for the popular guys. The Minutemen face even more difficulties, though. They’re discovered by the FBI, Charlie realizes they’ve created a Black Hole, and as the world is about to end, Virgil nearly changes the entire course of his teenage years.

In the mad dash to save the world, the Minutemen accidentally go back to their high school beginnings. Virgil runs to the ball field and spots a freshman version of himself. The Virgil of the past has a blank slate, and he can be anyone he wants to be. Freshman Charlie bursts onto the scene in his rocket car, crashes, and falls prey to the footballer bullies. Past Virgil is about to help past Charlie, thus sealing a friendship and a high school social status. Present-day Virgil is almost ready to stop his younger self and alter the events of that day, despite Charlie’s reminder that their friendship came from it. Before he can undo his first day of high school, present-day Virgil sees a younger version of Derek encouraging the bullying. That settles it, and no changes are made. He makes the right decision, finally.

Oh, and the Minutemen save the world from the Black Hole. The interesting thing is, after they complete their mission, they are transported back to the first day they ever time traveled. So most of the contents of the movie are wiped away. And the best part is, Virgil tells Derek he’s a jerk, and Virgil also tells Stephanie how he feels about her.

As Aly & AJ sing for a montage in the film, “like whoa!” I hope you see this one; it’s worth some thought. I have a theory that it inspired a Disney Channel series called Best Friends Whenever, where two teen girls can travel through time and change their circumstances. I’ve already mentioned the original Disney Channel time travel vehicle, Phil of the Future, but that’s a different story.

Special thanks to my friend Prime, from the Prime Nostalgia Podcast, for watching this film with me through GroupWatch on Disney+!

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