One of my favorite movies to see on Disney Channel growing up was The Paper Brigade (also called Gunther and The Paper Brigade). This movie was on enough in the early 2000s that I remember it pretty well, but it was also spaced out so that I really looked forward to each showing and got excited when I just happened upon it. The film was written by Denice K. Rice and directed by Blair Treu.
Gunther (Kyle Howard) is a city kid moving to a smaller town with his mom, dad, and brother. The first few minutes are spent on the actual move into Gunther’s new home. Looks pretty sweet — nice big pool, good weather, beautiful girl neighbor close by. Seems like Gunther has it made.
When he desperately wants to take said beautiful girl, Allison, to a Screaming Banshees concert, Gunther’s dad isn’t interested in advancing his allowance. Important thing to note: he owes a few bullies money (that he hasn’t yet made) for the concert tickets. Time for a summer job! Gunther gets a gig on the neighborhood paper route, which his comrades take very seriously. I love the rhythmic mundanity of the paper route. It’s not mundane in a boring sense. It’s a satisfying, settled feeling, seeing Gunther stop by the same houses in the same order every morning. He must get creative to conquer the more eccentric paper clients. A veteran with a kooky reputation (Robert Englund) doesn’t want to let Gunther pass through his yard — until Gunther gets the man’s guard geese drunk and initiates an epic paintball fight, thereby winning his neighbor’s respect. Another gentleman keeps dashing out on the bill, literally getting in his car and driving away so as not to pay Gunther. The kid hides out in this man’s car and tells him to pay up.
Unfortunately, those bullies Gunther reimburses for the concert tickets see how lucrative his paper boy job has become, and they want a piece of that action. Actually, they take over the entire operation. These fools don’t even have the decency to put Mrs. Hansen’s paper through her mailslot, since she can’t walk out to get it. It’s so sad when Gunther pays her a visit and she says to tell the paper boy she’ll have a cookie for him. That’s supposed to be Gunther’s cookie!! The boy comes to his senses and helps his rag-tag group of friends reclaim their paper route. With a series of Home Alone-style pranks, they defeat the bullies.
As for those Screaming Banshees, Gunther gives up the chance to attend the concert so that he can instead help Mrs. Hansen. She used to go to a baseball game with her late husband (who founded the town newspaper!), so Gunther decides to be her date and help her get there for her anniversary. Allison and Gunther’s brother are to go to the concert in his place, but adorably, Allison joins Gunther at the ball game. Such a sweet, classic pre-DCOM, featuring an iconic gorilla alarm clock. Watching it on VHS was delightful.