The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday June 1st

Column: The Best Disney Channel Original Movies of All Time

On Sunday, Miley Cyrus took to Twitter to share an emotional message. 

No, it wasn’t a break up with husband Liam Hemsworth. Don’t worry, she wasn’t stepping away from her career as a singer and actress – it was something far more touching. 

Get ready for the ultimate throwback to the simpler days of Hannah Montana, High School Musical, and Disney Channel Original Movies.

This week marks the 13th anniversary of the debut of Cyrus’ Disney Channel hit, “Hannah Montana.” Cue the “Feel old yet?” tweets. 

“Hannah Montana” was the anchor during the golden years of the Disney Channel. As a nine-year-old, there was nothing finer than settling in for an episode of Miley and co., followed up by “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.” Throw in a little “Wizards of Waverly Place” and boy, now we’re cookin’.

Nowadays, shows like “Sydney to the Max” and “Fast Layne” populate the hallowed ground that was once reserved for only the most prestigious of shows. Kids these days will never know how good we had it…

So, let’s take a trip down memory lane, to the glory days of our childhood, filled with Capri Suns, Gushers, and most importantly, Disney Channel Original Movies. It’s time to break down the five best DCOMs of all-time. 

Warning: I’m about to unlock a section of your memories that you complete forgot you even had.

5. “The Thirteenth Year

Try and think all the way back to 1999 when this Disney Channel masterpiece first released. “The Thirteenth Year” follows Cody Griffin, an adopted middle school swimmer who inexplicably begins to transform into a merman on his 13th birthday. This is a timeless coming of age story, as Cody struggles to balance schoolwork, personal life and discovering his true identity. The fact that this movie debuted when I was just three years old yet I still remember it just speaks to its quality. 

4. “Halloweentown

A true #spookyszn classic. Dark magic abounds when 13-year-old Marnie and her brother sneak into the mystical land of Halloweentown, where witches, vampires and all kinds of monsters live. With the help of their grandmother, the kids try and stop an evil demon from kidnapping citizens of Halloweentown. Not gonna lie, this movie was pretty scary for little kids, especially considering it came out in 1998. But even 21 years later, this one still holds up as a must-watch every Halloween.

3. “Smart House

If you weren’t personally scarred by this movie as a child, you’ve never truly lived. Think of it as the Alexa before Amazon took over the world. After the death of 13-year-old Ben Cooper’s mother (man, what is it with DCOMs and 13-year-olds), his family is struggling to manage everyday tasks without her help. Ben wins a contest and his family is gifted a smart house that’s programmed to basically make their lives a breeze, but once his father starts dating again, Ben reprograms the house to become his new maternal figure. Things quickly get out of hand and the house ends up having a mind of its own and holding the family hostage – it’s truly terrifying. And unlike most DCOMs, there’s not really a clear-cut morale at the end, except that robots are destined to take over the world. Disney Channel was really ahead of the times with this one.

2. The “High School Musical” Series

Now, most people probably have these classics listed as their top picks, which is a valid choice, but they come in at number two for me. They’re certainly some of the most iconic films of our childhood, and most of the songs are still certified bangers to this very day. Plus, the premiere of the sequel was one of the most highly anticipated nights in any true fan’s life. I can still remember getting misty-eyed the first time I ever saw Troy and Gabriella break up to “Gotta Go My Own Way.” With Gabriella and Troy’s star-crossed love affair, the blend of sports and theater and the movie’s tweenage rom-com vibes, there’s a whole lot to love about our days at East High – even if it did leave us all with ridiculously unrealistic ideas of what high school would be like. 

1. “Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off

The greatest of all time, hands down. Finally, we’ve got a film with some substance. For those of you who never witnessed this cinematic masterpiece, let me enlighten you. Eddie Ogden is a 14-year-old baseball phenom, and his dad is pushing him to earn a scholarship, but baseball isn’t his passion. Instead, his true love is cooking, and he secretly watches The Food Network in his spare time, but has to hide it from his macho brothers and friends. After “accidentally” signing up for home economics class, Eddie learns about a million dollar cook-off competition with the ability to get him into a culinary institute, he stops focusing on baseball and turns to his true passion, much to his father’s chagrin. Ultimately, Eddie must pick between following his dream, or his father’s – some pretty deep stuff for a DCOM. “Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off” really has it all: food, sports, an important message and even a guest appearance from Bobby Flay. How could any other DCOM ever compete?


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