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February 29, 2024

Revisiting Disney Channel classics

By MOLLY GAHAGEN | April 21, 2022



Disney Channel movies were a staple of 2000s youth culture.

When I was younger, I would watch Disney Channel for hours on end. The TV station’s movies continue to hold a special place in my heart, so I’m going to be evaluating whether or not some of my favorites still hold up today.

The Lizzie McGuire Movie

This movie set my expectations for studying abroad sky high. Although I find Lizzie getting to go to Rome on an eighth grade graduation trip ridiculous in principle (I got to go to a nearby water park for my eighth grade field trip), I still think this movie contributed to my dreams of traveling and having unforgettable adventures.

Watching Lizzie McGuire perform in the Colosseum was absolutely unforgettable, and I loved to dance around my bedroom and sing along to “What Dreams Are Made Of” when I was young — once in a blue moon I may still run on the treadmill to it.

I’m not sure if this movie holds up or not, as the age gap between Paolo and Lizzie is somewhat odd in retrospect (she was 14, he was 17), but I love the 2000s nostalgia of the fashion, the great scene where Isabella and Lizzie get revenge on Paolo and the sweet friendship between Lizzie and Gordo.

Hannah Montana: The Movie

I begged my dad to take me to see this movie as soon as it opened in theaters, and I got my wish by being so annoyingly persistent. I loved the Hannah-Montana-goes-country plot, as I could relate to many of the Southern cultural references. Also, the “Hoedown Throwdown” may be the catchiest song ever written.

The movie’s chief attribute is its soundtrack. As a lifelong Taylor Swift fan, seeing her make a cameo was certainly a highpoint of the film, and I think the general public deserves to hear “Crazier (Taylor’s Version)” in the near future. Plus, who can forget “The Climb,” the song which was grossly overplayed on the radio and had the power to make everyone and their mother burst into tears?

Does this movie hold up? In terms of plot, there seems to be a lack of cohesiveness and theme, and the sentimentality is overwhelmingly sickening at points (this may be a controversial take, but “Butterfly Fly Away” absolutely should have been cut). Nonetheless, I will argue that the sheer entertainment value of this film outweighs its lack of substance.

High School Musical

This is a bit of an embarrassing confession, but I never saw the first installment of the High School Musical series until my freshman year of high school. After seeing it, I had a lot of questions: Why can someone not have more than one extracurricular? Who wouldn’t cast Sharpay as the lead? Why was balancing chemical equations so hard for everyone? Who decided two sequels were necessary?

Maybe if I saw this movie when I was younger I would have some sort of attachment to it, but I genuinely struggled to sit through this film. I would say it doesn’t hold up as the archetypal cliques represented in the film largely don’t prove true today — many athletes and “nerds” can sing, contrary to this movie’s premise. Also, Gabriella is the movie’s villain — Sharpay worked for the lead part, and the “Bop to the Top” number proves that.

Camp Rock

I take the controversial stance that Joe was the superior Jonas Brother, and I still stand by that claim (not sure what this says about me!). Camp Rock is a perfect lighthearted summer movie, as it still reminds me of my fond summer camp memories. Unlike High School Musical, this movie warranted its sequel — which may be better than the original!

I loved the fun rock ‘n roll style soundtrack of both movies, as well as the fun Jonas Brothers moments. I’m not sure the plot of this movie is sufficient enough to qualify as “good,” but I do think that the general atmosphere of it is lively enough to make it a nostalgic classic.

The Parent Trap

Saving the best for last! I first saw The Parent Trap when I was about 7 years old, and I was transfixed by it, sucked in by the twins’ antics. There were a few months where I would come home from school and watch it nearly every day, and I can still recite the script from memory. I desperately wanted a twin after seeing this movie (and cross-examined my parents multiple times to make sure I didn’t have a secret one anywhere).

One of the reasons I loved it so much was that the twins’ mother, Elizabeth James, reminded me of my own mother — she’s also British, has a similar blonde haircut and is always polished and put together. In elementary school, being half-British certainly made me interesting to my peers, as they all thought that meant I knew the Queen (okay, I may have fibbed once or twice and said I had seen her). 

This movie still holds up today, but I see it in a different light. I take the stance that The Parent Trap is more than a family movie — it’s also an iconic romantic comedy in my opinion. Watching Nick Parker and Elizabeth James fall for each other all over again in a not-so-archetypal second-chance romance makes me cry every time I watch.

The movie’s fashion is still iconic, including Annie’s preppy coordinated outfits, Hallie’s more ’90s style and, of course, everything Meredith Blake wears on screen. I still love this movie, as evidenced by peanut butter and Oreos being a habitual teatime snack of mine. I will frequently reference this film — most recently, apologizing after a self-proclaimed “Meredith Blake hissy fit” due to my favorite sweater being ruined.

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