Hit or miss: Disney Channel original movies

Ava Mac ’21, Entertainment Section Editor

In the midst of the chaos and confusion of high school life, it is nice to look back to simpler times. The easy, effortless days when you could come home from a day of adding and subtracting, reading and writing, and turn on Disney Channel to your favorite afternoon show.

But between the airings of Hannah Montana and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, there would be bright, flashy ads for Disney Channel’s own original movies, ranging from poppy, cheery musicals, to melodramatic standalone flics, and then to random spin offs based off the channel’s fan favorite shows. While we reminisce on these childhood gems with sweet nostalgia, are they really as good as we remember? And are they even worth watching again?

Camp Rock (2008) – Hit

Following the enormously successful High School Musical 1 & 2 formula, Camp Rock, directed by Matthew Diamond, tells the story of an aspiring teenage musician desperate to attend a summer music camp. What ensues is a series of easily expected dramatics and cheesy pop songs that may be tacky in lyrics, but are actually fun, catchy, and add to the charm of this very likable movie.

Starstruck (2010) – Miss

Directed by Michael Grossman, this corny film about a girl who accidentally meets and falls for her sister’s celebrity crush, is widely forgettable and delivers a story told many times before. From Hairspray to Another Cinderella Story, and even in the aforementioned movie, Camp Rock, we see the same tired story of a celebrity falling for someone of lower status. Except in Starstruck, there is no original take or refreshing spin that keeps the other films entertaining.

Many critics agree, as commentator Kevin Carr said, “Starstruck is entirely forgettable after seeing it from the grown-up perspective,” seeing as it is based off of a tween fantasy. Critic David Nusair also added that its story is incredibly tedious and full of pointless turns.

Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie (2009) – Hit

Banking from the success of the original series, Wizards of Waverly Place, this movie, directed by Lev L. Spiro, follows the vacation of the Russo family and the magic adventures on which they embark. While it may seem like an easy cash grab marketing off the success of the show, it brings the characters into a fresh, new environment with unique, exciting challenges that added to their development and the heart of the story as a whole.

Junior Dana Uriquieta said this was her favorite Disney channel original because “It was really powerful and had a good message about family,” as these challenges the characters face truly enforce the power of family above all else.

Frenemies (2012) – Miss

Diverging from the typical format of a Disney Channel original movie, this anthology film, directed by Daisy von Scherler Mayer, tells of three intertwining stories about pairs of friends becoming enemies and going back to being friends again.

“The storyline was really overused, and the character portrayal was not right,” sophomore Kylie Tarlton said. She also commented on the format, and added, “It was weird and didn’t really add anything to the story.” Other than attempting (and failing) a new format, the movie does nothing else in terms of character, plot, or even being remembered by the viewer.

Lemonade Mouth (2011) – Hit

A musical directed by Patricia Riggen, Lemonade Mouth, focuses on the lives of five teenagers who unexpectedly come together as a successful band. Despite its obvious inspiration from the hit 80s film Breakfast Club, it manages to break free from its source and from the Disney brand itself with its refreshing rock-pop sound and interesting, lovable characters.


At a second glance, these movies from our childhood are not without fault, and maybe even many. Repetitive storylines, cheesy songs, and predictable endings are just a given, but it is safe to say that while a movie can be considered good or bad by the critics, the memories we connect with it cannot be rated, and the nostalgia can preserve any movie in its sweet, oversaturated glory.
Photo courtesy of tvovermind.com

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