Since Saint Patrick’s Day has just passed, I will share with all you a little tradition I do every so often on that holiday. Every Saint Patrick’s Day, I try to watch the Disney Channel Original Classic, Luck of the Irish. I remember when it first came out when I was a kid, and I loved it. It’s my favorite Disney Channel Original Movie, and I look forward to watching it every year.
Luck of the Irish wasn’t the only Disney Channel movie I love. I, of course, adored the Halloweentown movies. I also watched my share of Johnny Tsunami, Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off, Brink!, Phantom of the Megaplex, Up, Up and Away, and, of course, the Zenon trilogy. They are all super camping and cheaply made, but gosh darn it that’s the charm. Occasionally you’ll get something truly special, like Smart House, that are able to rise above the normal Disney Channel flare.
Unfortunately, there are some Disney Channel Movies that fall below the usually low standards of Disney Channel Movies. These films lack the charm, effort, and, most importantly, the heart. These are the motion pictures that Disney Channel would rather have you forget than you to watch again. I will be listing out the top 20 Disney Channel Movies They Want You To Forget. Since I mostly grew up with the Disney films of the late 90s and most of the 2000s, don’t expect recent films.
20 Not Worth A Second Read
Read It and Weep is a Disney film that stars sisters Kay and Danielle Panabaker. You may recognize Danielle from her role on The Flash. Kay plays the lead of the film, named Jaime. Danielle plays Jaime’s alter ego, who only exists in her mind. Jaime writes a fantasy story based on herself and her classmates, which later gets published and brings her new found fame.
What makes the movie hard to watch is the fact that the lead is hard to root for.
Jaime isn’t a mean person, and Kay does add a sweetness to her performance. She is just shallow, often ignoring her friends. I guess that’s the point of the film, how egos make monsters of us all. It just wasn’t told well enough. The way Jaime would argue with herself always came off silly, though it was played off as serious.
19 A Ruff Movie
I remember watching quite a few episodes of That's So Raven and Cory in the House. I liked them as a kid, but I never thought to myself that Kyle Massey should star in his own movie. Yet he did, and that’s how we got Life is Ruff. Massey plays Calvin Wheeler, a manipulative teenager who always gets what he wants. He adopts a dog so that he can win a dog competition, and plans to use the prize money to get a rare comic book.
This movie is bad because Calvin is very unlikable.
Unlike Read It and Weep, where the lead had mostly innocent intentions, Calvin remains a dirtbag throughout. Not only that, it doesn’t make sense why people do the things he wants them to. He doesn’t offer anything in return, yet everyone just follows his orders as if he is the president.
18 The Movie From Planet Weird
So a girl named Megan Larson finds out her future stepfather and stepsister are space aliens. Not just any aliens, but giant bubble aliens! If this premise sounds awesome to you, than Stepsister from Planet Weird maybe your kind of movie. Ignoring the horrible CGI, the overall concept is weird. The movie ends with the leads using hair dryers and a leaf blower to literally blow away the main bad guy.
This is a movie I remember always feeling uncomfortable watching.
There’s something about seeing people’s faces on CGI bubbles that made me feel uneasy. The movie is even worse compared to the far superior Zenon sci-fi movies, which makes going back to watch this one harder to do.
17 Running Away
I’m sure there are people out there who enjoy it, but personally, I think horse racing is really boring. So imagine Disney Channel trying to make a whole movie about horse racing called Ready to Run. But this ain’t Seabiscuit, since this horse racing movie needed to have the normal Disney Channel fluff. This includes a plucky teenage girl lead, who somehow can communicate with her horse TJ through something called "confidence of horses".
The biggest sin against Ready to Run is that it isn’t a very interesting movie, especially compared to other Disney Channel films. Even with the talking horse, who wears headphones to listen to music, the movie isn’t that exciting. I would rather watch Phantom of the Megaplex or Luck of the Irish again than having to sit through this movie.
16 A Shaky Return To Halloween
The Halloweentown movies, even with all the cheap production design and bad acting, have enough cheesiness and heart to overcome all those issues. Unfortunately, the final film in the series Return to Halloweentown didn’t let the series end on a high point.
To be fair for Return to Halloweentown, it isn’t the worst thing ever, nor is it truly a bad Disney Channel film.
There are two things that make it a movie that Disney wants you to forget, though. One, it is a blatant Harry Potter rip-off. Two, they recast the lead, Kimberly J. Brown, with Sara Paxton. The latter may have been a bigger offense to Halloweentown fans since Disney tried to pretend it didn’t happen. FYI, it was totally obvious. Paxton turned in a fine performance, however, she lacks the chemistry and history that Brown had with the other cast members.
15 Five Times A Snooze
While Kimberly J. Brown couldn’t star in the final Halloweentown movie, she, unfortunately, did star in this original Disney Channel stinker. Quints centers on Brown’s character, who has to take care of her quintuplets siblings, and that’s it. That’s the whole movie. Brown gives an admirable effort, however, she was not yet skilled enough to carry a film with such a weak premise. I don’t even remember this movie coming out, and I never recall Disney Channel re-airing it. Quints sits in a level of obscurity that only the true, diehard fans of the classic Disney Channel movies would remember. Even then, I bet you there are a lot of fans who would have a hard time recollecting this particular flop.
14 Not So Lucky
If you want to watch a movie starring Kirk Cameron, who plays a character who can talk to a dog, then I have a movie to share with you! You Lucky Dog is actually the second Disney Channel Original Movie ever released. It premiered in 1998, a year after Under Wraps. Whereas Under Wraps is a legit classic in the greater Disney Channel pantheon, You Lucky Dog is mostly a forgettable mess.
Forgoing the conceit that the lead character could only read the mind of Lucky the dog, the movie is very strange. Kirk Cameron’s character and the dog end up having a mind merge, just like in E.T. A good portion of the movie is Kirk Cameron acting like a dog, and it isn’t as fun or interesting as it sounds.
13 There's Something About Jennie
I can’t harp too much on The Jennie Project, the 2001 Disney Channel Movie about a chimpanzee learning sign language. The chimpanzee they got to play as Jennie in the movie is cute enough, but everything else about the movie is pretty dull and boring. Jennie’s role in the movie is how she brings together a family with a distant father; with that said, there’s hardly any conflict in the movie.
There’s some towards the end when the custody of Jennie comes into question.
However, most of the film is just cute monkey doing cute things with a cookie-cutter white family. Again there isn’t much to hate about this film. Nonetheless, there is a reason why I remember this movie so solemnly being played on Disney Channel as a kid.
12 Breaking Bad Meets The Santa Clause
I really love The Santa Clause with Tim Allen. It was story rooted in child-like fantasy, yet was still told in a mature way. Disney Channel decided to do its own version of The Santa Clause with Bryan Cranston as the lead, and it was called ‘Twas the Night. It wasn’t as good. There were certainly worse choices than Bryan Cranston as the lead, who does an admirable job with the material given. The movie does contain some of that Disney Channel cheese you can hope to see in the best of them. It is still isn’t enough to save this moving from its fairly by-the-numbers plot, and hard to like leading character. If you want to watch a normal man become a Santa Claus, you’re better watching The Santa Clause than ‘Twas the Night.
11 The Wrong Team
There was a time when I went to see the Los Angeles Clippers basketball game in a box room. I had fun with my family in the box, enjoying all the benefits that came with the room. However, for the life of me, I can’t remember anything about the game. In fact, I don’t really think I paid much attention to the actual game. My memories of that game are just like my feelings towards the movie Double Teamed.
The film is based on the true stories of twin professional basketball players.
I like basketball, and I also like the fact that the movie was about female players. Yet I can’t remember anything about it, just like the Clippers game. The only thing that is coming to mind is that I think I thought it was boring, which was pretty much my attitude towards sports in general.
10 A Wish That Shouldn't Have Been Made
There was a time that Disney Channel would air You Wish! all the time. The movie was about a teenager wishing he never had a younger brother with a magic coin, which somehow comes true. Because I saw it so many times throughout the years, I started realizing how dumb the movie is.
A lot of the characters make a lot of illogical decisions, and the acting isn’t the greatest.
A.J. Trauth, who was in the midst of his brief moment of fame co-starring in Even Stevens as Twitty, doesn’t do a good job as the main character. With that said, I probably felt an attachment to this particular movie as a kid because the relationship between the leading brothers was similar to my own relationship with my older brother. That doesn’t mean it was a good movie.
9 Off Track
This movie only came out two months after You Wish!, yet I hardly remember it at all. I watched You Wish! a ton, however, I can barely recall Right on Track ever coming out. The movie is based on the real-life sisters Erica and Courtney Enders, who would become famous drag racers. It also stars a young Brie Larson, a future Oscar winner and Marvel superhero. While there have been several bad Disney films I have a hard time recalling, I at least remember something about them. I remember something about Double Teamed, Ready to Run, and The Jennie Project. The only thing I can recollect is that I am pretty sure that I watched it at some point, ‘cause I remember watching a drag racing movie on Disney Channel at some point in my life.
8 No Miracle
Disney Channel does not have a good track record when it comes to sports movies if this list is anything to go by. To be fair for Disney Channel, there have been some Disney sports films that I do like. I really liked Johnny Tsunami, Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off, and Brink! as a kid.
It's just that the usual Disney Channel formula doesn’t really work well when mixed together with the typical sports film clichés.
Full-Court Miracle is another based on a real-story sports film. It is about a former college basketball player being the coach of a Jewish high school team. I do appreciate the film exploring the Jewish faith, and I remember liking Richard T. Jones performance as the coach when I was a kid. Despite that, the movie is very slow and very dull. It doesn’t do anything new.
7 Figure This One Out
When you look at their catalog of films, you’ll be surprised at how many of their films are made up of sports films. Go Figure centers on a teen girl who is on both the girl’s hockey team and is learning to become a professional figure skater. For some reason, everyone is a jerk to her for trying to juggle hockey and figure skating. Go Figure just felt like another checkmark in a list of sports that Disney needed to make a movie of. It isn’t terribly offensive as a motion picture, though it is also not very effective as one as well. The reasoning for why all the other students would be so mean to the lead doesn’t really add up, making the conflict in the film hard to swallow. The story is also pretty generic and predictable, making the film very unremarkable.
6 Belles Of The Barn
When I was a kid, I thought Alyson Michalka from Phil of the Future was a very pretty woman. Alyson was the only incentive for me watching Cow Belles as a kid, and I hated it.
Cow Belles stars Alyson Michalka and her sister Amanda, who play sisters in the film.
They play spoiled rich girls, who are forced to work at their father’s dairy after burning their house. Over the course of the film, they learn a lesson in humiliation and become humbled by their experience. The Michalka sisters do play well off each other; however, the lead characters are incredibly unlikable. They are the spoiled rich girls that everyone remembers hating in high school, and the conflict in the film is so very weak that it might have well not existed.
5 Great Movie, Not So Great Sequel (Part One)
It’s hard to argue that many of the Disney Channel Original Movies are technically “good” movies. Many of them suffer from cheap production designs and bad acting. They still have their charm. It's alright to love them for nostalgia's sake, and to appreciate the things that make it special.
Even with all that said, it’s hard to even defend Cheetah Girls 2 as a fun nostalgia film.
The original Cheetah Girls isn’t anything good either, with Disney Channel’s usual low standards. The only reason why the original film isn’t on the list is that they were at one point popular. However, as an adult, these films come off very shallow and very annoying. Cheetah Girls may not be a good Disney Channel film as is, but Cheetah Girls 2 is considerably much worse.
4 Before Even Stevens...
As someone who was diagnosed with mild autism as a kid, certain aspects of Tru Confessions hit a little bit too close to home. I appreciate how earnest the film is, tackling an issue like autism with some level of believability. The actors are not bad, with a baby faced Shia Labeouf giving an admirable performance as the teen with autism.
Disney Channel rarely showed Tru Confessions and the reasons why are probably not because it was a bad film.
The issue was that it wasn’t good enough. It's one of the boldest films in the Disney Channel catalog, but it's almost ruined by bad melodrama. Shia Labeouf’s performance is more cringy than anything else. It's a hard movie to sit through, and also a hard movie to dislike. I wish more Disney films are brave enough to attack issues as seen in Tru Confessions.
3 Third Time's The Charm?
Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century is, without a doubt, one of the quintessential Disney Channel flicks. A sci-fi film taking place in the not-so-distant future, Zenon benefitted from a likeable main character and focusing more on the characters rather than the crazy space stuff. Zenon: The Zequel wasn’t as good. Nonetheless, the sequel still has its own nostalgic charm.
Zenon: Z3, on the other hand, is just bad.
The trilogy always had bad CGI, but at least the first two films had the benefit of taking place mostly on Earth. Z3 takes place mostly on the moon, and the special effects look awful. The stories of Zenon were always really silly, yet Z3 has the most nonsensical one. Z3 was about a spirit on the moon wanting everyone to leave, and the spirit looks like a goth chick.
2 Great Movie, Not So Great Sequel (Part Two)
It sad how Zenon: Z3 and Return to Halloweentown essentially ended their franchises. At least for Cheetah Girls: One World, it was an act of mercy. None of the Cheetah Girls movies are good, with the first one being the closest to a bonafide Disney Channel nostalgic classic. Whereas the first two films had the benefit of the popular Raven-Symoné as the lead, One World didn’t even have that. Instead, the film focused on the other three Cheetah Girls being cast in a Bollywood movie.
Although the actresses are more confident in their roles than in the previous films, the characters are still grating. The music wouldn’t entertain anyone older than a ten-year-old, and the movie has a dumb script. It is strange to think that the Cheetah Girls were ever popular, given how much they have fallen into obscurity in today's world.
1 Keep This Can Closed
Can of Worms is probably the most disgusting Disney Channel film. The movie is about a teenage outcast, who, after being humiliated in a school dance, tries to make contact with aliens to take him away. He unintentionally opens a “can of worms”, meaning a series of bizarre aliens arrive on Earth to take him away.
His main companion is a dog with Malcolm McDowell’s voice.
On one hand, there is a stream of consciousness component to the film that I do appreciate, making it seem like a dream. The film almost makes more sense emotionally than it does logically, with the lead’s desire for acceptance acting like a metaphor for the aliens coming to take him away. The alien designs are also super original, however, they are also very horrifying. The film was really hard to go through as a kid.