5.) The Thirteenth Year- This movie taught everyone about mermaids and what to look for if you suspect someone in your class may be a mermaid. I know if some kid was decent at swimming at my high school, I would immediately be thinking mermaid…merman. The only thing this movie really brushes over is how heartbreaking it would be to leave all of your friends and family, how terrifying it would be to adapt as another species living exclusively underwater, and how perverse it was that Jess’s dad longed to be with that mermaid so bad. Other than that, perfectly executed film. Tons of great 90’s hair, and a lot of great gender bending mermaid jokes and water puns. Who knew that Mermaids could conduct electricity!?
4.) Johnny Tsunami-It’s difficult to get better than a venerable tale of star crossed lovers torn apart by their love of different winter sports. A story, that when done correctly is one of the most thought provoking and endearing endeavors in existence. I wasn’t aware that there was that big of a class disparity between snow boarders and skiers so this movie was a real eye opener for me. Disney isn’t afraid to tackle issues that matter. Throw in a couple of pissed off family members that are strangely brought together by a couple of random kids racing and you’re looking at a true classic. The mantra “Go big or go home,” surrounded by Hawaiian flowers isn’t tatted on my lower back, but it should be. The only point of contention here is why Johnny’s grandpa seemed to always inexplicably call him “Porno” or something that sounded like that.
3.) Luck of the Irish-Simply put, can’t go wrong with late 90’s, early 2000’s Ryan Merriman. An undisputed face on the Mount Rushmore of Disney channel original movies, and possible contender for G.O.A.T. The offensive Irish stereotypes, hilariously tiny mom, and the maudlin singing of This Land Is Your Land at the end which cleansed the city of any lingering bigotry, all contribute to the movie’s greatness. The true importance is found in learning about the trials and tribulations of being a leprechaun in junior high school. We all learned that the past should be revered but not dwelled upon, that sometimes the present is the only time that matters. Also there is no chill in challenging an evil leprechaun to “sports” for your grandpa’s soul and the coin that holds your family’s livelihood. Sometimes it takes more than luck to figure out who you are as a person, thanks for that Disney.
2.) Brink!-Movies about roller blading are timeless. I’m pretty sure this movie single handedly pioneered the roller blade movement in the United States. We all wanted the X-Bladz gear with the Pup N’ Suds heart. I’m not sure who in their right mind was sponsoring high school students to roller blade but God bless them. Watching this, I realized how cut throat the roller blading underworld was, as Brink’s friends viewed him trying to earn money for his family by skating as an act of betrayal. This movie taught us the valuable lesson that you can’t get paid for doing something you love. Tons of shredding and plenty of Erik von Detten pouting.
1.) Smart House-The scene above is reason enough to fall in love with this indie classic, but there’s so much more. No chance in hell Disney anticipated making the most provocative and challenging movies of the 20th century. This here is the Bible on artificial intelligence; Terminator doesn’t have shit on SmartHouse. I’m not sure enough gravity is placed on the fact that a house is impersonating an overbearing deceased family member. The thought of that disfigured, spinning Katey Sagal at the end of the movie is far more terrifying then a robot ruled dystopian future. Even though it would cause irreparable damage to your psyche, would 100% still live there for the smoothie machine, kick-butt video screens, and floor that melted stuff. You could also do a lot worse than getting raised by the voice of a borderline B-list star.
Honorable mentions: The Paper Brigade, Alleycat Strike, Zenon Girl of the 21st Century