Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Complete Ranking of Kevin Smith's Films

photo credit: viewaskew.com
In anticipation of Kevin Smith's new movie Tusk, I have staffed myself with the task of ranking each of his theatrical releases to date. Except for 2010's Cop Out. I have no interest in seeing Cop Out. If anyone reading this is a huge Cop Out fan, please convince me why I should watch this film that appears to be really mediocre.

Anyway, I've been a Kevin Smith fan since about 2004, the year I really started to get into movies. I discovered the beauty of the Independent Film Channel (IFC) and spent most of my free time in my parent's basement watching an assortment of weird movies.

I started seeing commercials for this low budget, indie movie called Clerks that was going to be coming on IFC sometime probably really late at night (that's when the best stuff came on). Clerks was ten years old by the time I discovered it, but that didn't stop me from jumping on the Kevin Smith bandwagon. 

I find that Kevin Smith is a very polarizing filmmaker. A lot of people complain that his movies are immature and better suited for teenagers. I've also read a lot of arguments that his directing style is a bit amateurish. Although I can't completely disagree with some of these points, I will say this: Smith is an excellent storyteller and a damn good writer. And while a lot of Smith's movies do feature selfish, immature characters who make bad decisions, there's usually a pretty good moral compass at the heart of the films. And also a lot of dick jokes. But I digress.

When I first read the premise and saw the trailer for Tusk, I was both excited and a little perplexed. Red State, a movie I actually just watched recently, was Smith's first foray into the horror/thriller genre. It wasn't a bad movie, but it wasn't anything to write home about (in this unprofessional film critic's humble opinion). I have a feeling Tusk might be different though. The trailer looks absolutely sinister with overtones of dark humor. Plus, it has Justin Long and Johnny Depp so it can only be but so bad.

This is a post about Kevin Smith's previous films and my opinion on how they rank against each other. Beginning with the end...

9. Jersey Girl

I don't hate Jersey Girl, but it didn't make a very good impression on me. Jersey Girl came out right around the time that I was discovering Kevin Smith and, based on what people were saying about it at the time, I expected the film to be dreadful.

I ended up being pleasantly surprised. It wasn't dreadful -- it was just kind of bland and predictable. It's not a film I really have any intention on seeing more than once, so I haven't seen it since probably 2005. 

I'm groggy on the details, but I know that Ben Affleck plays a single dad to a smart little girl. His wife (played by Jennifer Lopez -- this was back during the time of Bennifer) dies in childbirth and he's forced to raise the kid alone.

Then Liv Tyler pops into the picture and things ensue. The things that happen weren't interesting enough for me to recall their details. Despite its efforts, Jersey Girl is ultimately a forgettable affair.

8. Red State

Red State is Kevin Smith's first attempt at tackling the horror genre. He does this with some success -- although the film really loses its focus about halfway through.

The general concept of the movie is fantastic. A family of religious nuts that make Westboro Baptist Church look tame kidnap three teenage boys by luring them with an online ad for free sex. They proceed to attempt to murder the boys in front of their family congregation.

During this time, the local police department realizes something fishy is going on. John Goodman, who works with the ATF, ends up bringing out a squad and taking the church/commune under siege.

Shit happens. There are lots of guns. Michael Parks, the minister of the church, is a creepy and sinister character. Parks plays this with perfection. Of the teenage boys, I was only impressed with Kyle Gallner's performance. Melissa Leo and Kerry Bishe also give convincing performances.

I lost interest in Red State a little more than halfway through. I think the ending was supposed to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but it came from so far out of left field that I just didn't buy it.

Still a decent movie, but nothing more than that. 

7. Clerks II

Clerks II had its moments, but I won't lie and say I wasn't a little underwhelmed. Maybe it's because the main characters Dante and Randall still hadn't grown up in the ten years between the first installment and this sequel. Maybe it's because I found a lot of the jokes to be more crude than funny. Crude jokes are great when they're funny, but when they're not funny they just appear to be trying too hard. 

That's not to say that the film was a complete waste. Jay and Silent Bob are fun additions as always and the movie did make a lot of fun references to the original. There's a pretty funny joke involving a troll called Pillow Pants that's outrageously funny. 

Smith is reportedly going to make a third installment for Clerks. I'm looking forward to it because I do love these characters, but I'm hoping that after 20 years we can actually see them succeeding in life. I'm not expecting a movie devoid of immature humor -- that would be expecting Smith to not be Smith -- but I would like to see some kind of personal growth from these slackers.

6. Dogma

Dogma is an interesting little film. When I first read the premise, I was a little concerned that it would be some kind of blasphemous, anti-religion film. I ended up being pleasantly surprised.

This film centers around a woman, Bethany (played by Linda Fiorentino) who works in an abortion clinic. She's approached by an angel (Alan Rickman) who basically tells her that its her duty to save humanity and stop these two rogue, exiled-on-Earth angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) from going back to Heaven. Yeah.

What transpires is a journey that is very funny and in some places a bit thought provoking. The cast is terrific -- with appearances from Chris Rock, George Carlin, Alanis Morrisette (playing God), and Salma Hayek. Of course, our friends Jay and Silent Bob provide a lot of the more absurd humor.

Dogma is probably one of Smith's most creative ventures and it's a good staple for the 90s. I don't have much more to say than that.

5. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

mgmchannel.com
I love Jay and Silent Bob. Like Kevin Smith as a filmmaker, I've noticed that opinions of these two characters seem to fall in one of two extremes. I am a fan.

Jason Mewes is not and will never be the best actor in the world -- or even the best actor in any given film where he plays a role. Jason Mewes does, however, have the charisma required to make a foul-mouthed character like Jay lovable. Silent Bob is always lovable. 

The premise of this epic film is this: Jay and Silent Bob find out that their comic book alter egos (Bluntman and Chronic) are being turned into a movie and they aren't getting a cut of the profits. The Bluntman and Chronic comics were developed in Smith's earlier film, Chasing Amy, by comic book artists Holden (Ben Affleck) and Banky (Jason Lee).

Jay and Silent Bob essentially go on a quest to stop the movie's production. As is typical protocol in a Smith movie, hilarity ensues along the way. A lot of Smith's regular players are present here... some of them playing more than one character or even playing themselves. None of them are unwelcome.

One of my favorite things about this movie is the self-referential humor. Smith pokes fun of himself, at some of the actors, at the fans. Pretty much no one is immune to being turned into the butt of a joke in this one. It's a lot of fun and it's a movie I can and have watched repeatedly.

Also, Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms!

4. Zack and Miri Make a Porno

When I first heard that Kevin Smith and Seth Rogen were teaming up for a movie, I was a little concerned. I like Seth Rogen and all the Judd Apatow movies, but I didn't want Kevin Smith to stop being Kevin Smith in an attempt to keep up with what happened to be popular at the time.

Thankfully, the movie proved me wrong. Zack and Miri is a funny, crude, and overall sweet film that centers around roommates/platonic friends Zack (Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) who get the idea to film a porn movie in order to get some money to pay their bills. 

The movie features a lot of laugh-out-loud moments -- many of which come from the various supporting players. Justin Long, Craig Robinson, Jeff Anderson, and Jason Mewes.

Also, if you like the movie and you're bored, watch this video of Seth Rogen and Justin Long improvising lines. It's one of the best things I've seen in a long time.


3. Mallrats

Mallrats has become something of a cult classic. Initially panned by the majority of critics, this movie gained an extensive following in the years after its release.

There isn't much to say about Mallrats other than that it's funny, unmistakably '90s, and really funny.

Also, whatever happened to Jeremy London?

2. Chasing Amy

I love this movie. The first time I watched it, I was a little disappointed. But I think my issue was that I was expecting another movie in the vein of Clerks and Mallrats. Although Chasing Amy is at its core still a comedy, it actually features a lot of mature themes that Smith had not really touched on in his previous ventures.

The film centers around Holden and Banky (Ben Affleck and Jason Lee, respectively), two best friends who write and draw comics. 

At a comic book convention, Holden meets Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams). Alyssa is a free spirit. She holds her own with the guys and she curses and smokes like a sailor on leave. Holden falls for her and begins scheming to find a way to hook up with her... only to discover that she's a lesbian.

The two decide to become good friends and Holden begins focusing much of his time on Alyssa, leaving Banky in the dust. Banky has a negative opinion of Alyssa from the outset and this causes the friendship between himself and Holden to become strained.

I don't want to give too much away for anyone who hasn't seen the movie, but I will just say that Smith effectively broaches the topic of sexual orientation without cheapening the outcome of the film. This is one of Smith's more emotional ventures, although moments are very funny and the dialogue is very sharp.

There's also a really good scene where Holden discusses his dilemma with Jay and Silent Bob... it's one of Smith's most introspective scenes to date. Highly recommended.

1. Clerks

Clerks is and will probably always be one of my favorite movies. The thing about Clerks is that it doesn't look too impressive and the acting isn't really that good. But Kevin Smith puts forth such an enthusiastic spirit that the movie excels despite those aspects.

At first glance, Clerks is just a film about a day in the life of a bored Quick Stop employee. But beneath the surface, the movie really examines the plight of the young adult who really has no idea how to get a handle on life. Dante Hicks, our protagonist, is stuck at his dead-end job on a day where he wasn't even scheduled to work. His girlfriend is pissed at him and he has regrets that he never stuck it out with his high school sweetheart (who is now engaged to an Asian design major of all things). 

Dante and Randall, the clerk at the neighboring video store, have a pretty eventful day with a ton of hysterical (and sometimes cringeworthy) moments. They leave the store to play hockey on the roof, they accidentally sell cigarettes to a small child, and they attend the wake of a girl they knew in high school. At the end of the day, they end up duking it out over Dante's personal problems and chatting a lot about Star Wars.

The movie is in black and white because they couldn't afford to do it in color. The film cost only about $27,000 to make and the rights to the music used in the film cost more than the actual production. Kevin Smith shot the scenes in the real Quick Stop where he worked outside of the hours of operation. He maxed out several credit cards to help finance his dream. This was definitely a DIY movie. If not for Smith's hard work on this little-movie-that-could, we probably wouldn't be blessed with the whole View Askewniverse as it is today.

Clerks is far from a perfect film, but the script is solid, clever, and remains very funny even 20 years later. The characters are selfish and immature, but they are somehow easy to relate to. I'm thankful that enough people saw the merit in Clerks to allow Kevin Smith the ability to continue on with such a career as he has today.

So... to anyone who actually got through this post: what do you think about my list and about these films? And does anyone actually recommend that I watch Cop Out?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cats and pizza

Hello internet friends.

I've probably mentioned it a few times, but I've been finding it increasingly difficult to blog lately. I've even jotted down various topics I want to end up discussing at some point, but the inspiration to actually translate these ideas into words has been really hard to come by.

I have, however, found the inspiration to do a quick little re-design. As you may see, Pink Nightmare is now adorned with a concerned looking cat (my roommate's cat, Pixie) a midst a bunch of pizza. I thought this accurately represented my creative direction for this little piece of internet.

In addition to the aesthetic changes, I'm also planning on shifting the focus of this blog by just a small margin. I plan to focus more on pop culture (movies, music, celebrities) and less on the boring aspects of my life. I'm still going to talk about my life and share important and funny things with anyone who is willing to read, but there will be fewer posts of just me rambling.

After this one, of course.

That's all I've got. Carry on.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Gym Mentality

I joined a gym a couple of months ago. Or, as one of my friends would say, it's not a "gym." It's a fitness center. Apparently the distinction is important to some people. I just know it's a place that I go to work out.

Either way, I have realized that there is a mental cycle that I must go through each time I go to the gym. This pretty accurately sums it up. It starts in the morning...


When I first wake up, I have big plans for the day. It usually starts: "I'm going to read a few chapters of a book. I'm going to blog. I'm going to eat healthy. I'm going to go to the gym."

But as the day wanes on...


But still the day goes on... and I get progressively lazier. My resolve begins to disintegrate.


By the point in the evening where going to the gym becomes a reality, I get a little bit upset. Getting up and actually going to the gym is the hard part. So I go through a bit of denial. 


I think of pros and cons.


Sometimes the lazy side of me wins and I end spending the rest of my night watching television and shoving food in my mouth.

Other nights, I put on my big girl pants (or yoga pants in this case) and I drag my ass to the gym. Still, on the way, I have other thoughts.

(PS - I gave up on my hands in this next drawing)


But, in the end, it's worth it. 


I've never actually gone to the gym and afterward thought, "That was a bad decision." I'm always glad I went, but getting there is half the battle. Has anyone ever felt this way about the gym or any other activities?

Drawings of me are copyright to me, 2014.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Second Vacation: Monumentour and More

It's taken me awhile to post about it, but I was lucky enough to go on three vacations this summer. Granted, none of them were for long periods of time. But I'm happy because I got to go experience New York City with one group of friends, and then last month got to go to the beach and a concert with two of my best friends.

My roommate and my concert buddy, David, headed out early on a Monday morning on a four hour trek to Virginia Beach. Our main purpose was the Monumentour, a concert tour featuring the likes of Paramore and Fall Out Boy, who we'd already seen in Northern Virginia last fall. They were just so damn entertaining that we wanted to see them again.

Plus, I'd never seen Paramore before and I have a bit of a girl crush on Hayley Williams.

Since the concert was at Virginia Beach in the middle of summer, we figured we might as well stay a couple of nights and enjoy some of the other things the area had to offer. Here's a basic summary of our trip:

1. Getting there

My roommate, Lauren, loves to do day drinking in the car when we're taking long trips. I learned this the hard way back in 2012 when we drove to Warped Tour on literally no sleep. So we decided to make an event of it.

Lauren and I both drank Diet Sprite mixed with vodka for most of the trip. I started to get tipsy for a minute, but then I ate a bunch of chicken nuggets from Wendy's and sobered up.

Poor David had to deal with us constantly stopping to pee without being able to partake in the drinking (because he was, you know, driving).

2. The beach

After we got to the beach, we checked into the hotel and headed pretty much immediately to the beach. This was the first time in a few years that I'd actually gone to the beach and gotten to get in the water. 

It was a lot of fun, getting pulled in by the waves and having the tide kind of move us away from the area we started. I'm not a huge ocean person because of how gross the water and the sand can be, but we had a lot of fun for a couple of hours. Lauren did get dragged down by one wave and face planted on the ocean floor, solidifying one of her childhood fears. But other than that, it was cool.

3. The hotel

Because we don't get out that often, we all decided to spring for a better hotel than some of the ones we'd stayed at in the past. We ended up staying at The Atrium Resort, which wasn't quite beach front but was just about two blocks away. 

The hotel room itself was pretty cool. It had a separate bedroom with a huge bed. The bed was so big that there was literally probably close to a foot between Lauren and I when we slept. It was glorious.

The room was also equipped with a little kitchenette and a living room area with a pullout couch where David slept.

Well hell, I'll just show you some pictures:




The hotel was pretty cool itself, aside from the room itself. The design of the place was very open. You could see up to each floor from the lobby and the pool was right inside the hotel beside the lobby. So basically, from the fourth floor, this was our view:


 Speaking of the pool, that leads me to...

4. The pool/Jacuzzi

A big reason for wanting to stay at The Atrium was its amenities. The pool and the Jacuzzi were big draws for us because, where we live, there aren't a lot of swimming opportunities. The few pools that we do have are either a) really expensive, b) really crowded practically all the time, or c) all of the above.

The Atrium's pool was open pretty late, and the last two hours (from 9 to 11) were supposed to be "adult swim." Anybody under the age of 16 was not supposed to be in the pool during these last two hours.

Imagine our surprise when we go down to the pool not long after 9 and discover there is a kid in the Jacuzzi. Which, according to the posted regulations, children aren't supposed to be in the pool without adult supervision and they aren't supposed to be in the Jacuzzi at all. So not only was this kid lacking supervision, he was in Jacuzzi during adult swim hours.

"Maybe he'll leave soon," we all thought.

We were all very wrong.

He ended up being joined by five or six other kids -- all under the age of 16. They took over the whole Jacuzzi. We were in the pool, just kind of floating around, but the water was really cold and I couldn't get warm. Lauren was upset because of the kids -- she'd been looking forward to the Jacuzzi for months. So it was a pretty lame experience.

We ended up back in the hotel room in time for the second airing of that week's Switched at Birth. David checked a couple of times to see if the kids were gone before the pool completely closed. One time he checked and the kids were gone, but they were replaced by a big dude making out with his girlfriend. So we went to bed early.

5. The boardwalk

Our second day in Virginia Beach was the day of the concert, which didn't start until 6:30 pm. So we had the whole day to check out the boardwalk.

We ate lunch at a pizza place on 21st Street. I don't remember the name of it, but the pizza was delicious. Lauren is convinced that the owners are very greedy, though, because they only offered bottled water (no tap) and they automatically included gratuity in our bills (I think my bill came to like $11, so it wasn't like one of those places that adds gratuity just for bills over a certain amount).

After lunch, we decided to walk through some of the stores on the boardwalk. I was on a hunt for sunglasses because mine had gotten scratched on the sand at the beach the day before. Lauren was on a search for this one particular touristy shirt.

One of the first shops we walked into proved to be a bit of an awkward experience. Lauren started looking through the racks and then, suddenly, noticed the scene in front of us:

A girl was lying on her stomach, completely unresponsive. There were several people and some EMT's surrounding her. We'd walked in to this scene completely oblivious. David wondered how we could have possibly not noticed -- we were like the only shoppers left in the store besides this girl's concerned family. We were just looking at various touristy apparel while they were trying to like resuscitate this poor girl.

We left as soon as we realized. I have no idea the outcome of this peril.

Lauren ended up finding her shirt. We got some overpriced Dippin' Dots, and then David and I rode a ferris wheel overlooking the beach.




After the boardwalk, we had a little bit of time before we had to leave for the concert... and we finally were able to get control of the Jacuzzi. Victory was ours!

6. MONUMENTOUR

The concert itself was a lot of fun, if not a little nerve wracking at first. Our tickets said 6:30pm, but it didn't mention if that was the time that doors opened or if that was when the show actually started. Since that was fairly early, we (wrongly) assumed that doors opened at 6:30 and the show started at 7 or later... oops!

We got there right around 6:30 and had just gotten to our seats when the opening band started playing. The opening band was called New Politics and, although they apparently have a decent following, we weren't too terribly impressed with them.

So we headed to the merch booth during their set. This was annoying because Lauren and I both wanted the Fall Out Boy crew neck sweatshirt that said Virginia Beach, but they literally only had one left in our size. Lauren graciously let me purchase it (with the agreement that she can wear it sometimes) and she got a pair of the Fall Out Boy shorts. The merch line took forever and I was really concerned that we'd miss the beginning of Paramore's set.

We didn't, thankfully. Paramore was really fun. Hayley Williams sounds very similar live to how she sounds on the albums, which is a rare and always welcome treat. She has really good stage presence and seems like a legitimately humble, nice person. She brought a fan up on stage to help her sing Misery Business and I'm pretty sure it made that girl's life.

Fall Out Boy was wonderful as always as well. My only complaint is that both sets (Paramore's especially) seemed really short. But then, I never wanted to leave.



After the show, we went to Denny's (a tradition for us at this point) and had mediocre food with mediocre service... ah America.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Artwork by Cherie

I've always thought of myself as a creative person. Ever since I was a child, I loved to create things and express myself in as many ways as I could. I tended to gravitate toward writing and music at an early age... and I also used to draw and create artwork.

However, of all the creative mediums I tried out, art was definitely not my strong suit.

Since my mother moved to another state recently, I was charged with the task of deciding what of the stored, old crap I wanted to keep and what I wanted to toss. I've been sorting through stuff slowly over the last couple of years, since she has known she was going to move for some time. I ended up encountering a lot of old artwork of mine that I ended up finding, well, a bit disturbing. Let me show you what I mean...

About this one, my mom's comment was: "Now that's just terrible." My portrait of Black Beauty:


For awhile in my childhood, I really loved the Smurfs. So much so that I drew this masterpiece:


I also dabbled in clay art, where I created this piece which I call "Grandmother with Tongue." She had a nose at one point, but it has fallen off somewhere during the years:


In fourth grade, we were given a blank calendar to design. Mine was very sporadic, with no particular theme. For March, I drew Oddish (a Pokemon character) and had him speaking randomly about St. Patrick's Day. I don't even know:


Lastly -- and I don't even know what words can describe this piece -- we have a drawing of a girl and a mallard. I used to draw with my mother and I found this in a notebook where we both had drawn random things (I could easily tell which were hers and which were mine). This was mine. It frightens me a bit now:


I call it "Lulu." Lulu appears to have one arm and clubbed feet. The mallard also appears to be attacking. He is perhaps the reason that she only has one arm. Also, I'm not sure what is hanging from her ears but they don't resemble earrings in the slightest.

So what do you think? Have I missed my calling by not taking on the art world?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Death, suicide, and Robin Williams

It's been a bad year for deaths, both in the celebrity world and in my own personal one. Several young people in my city tragically died this year, including someone who had been very important to me during a hard time in my life. We've lost the talented Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Casey Kasem, Tommy Ramone, Ann B. Davis, James Garner, and many others.

Yesterday, as I'm sure you're aware, we lost Robin Williams.

The news of Robin Williams' death hit me pretty hard -- possibly harder than any other celebrity death to date (although I'm still shocked about Brittany Murphy). The fact that there are so many people grieving about this is a testament to the man's life and his ability to touch us with his smile.

My introduction to Robin Williams came at a young age, before I had the capacity to really to understand that there were actually people voicing the animated characters I saw on the screen. Aladdin was always one of my favorite Disney movies, and the Genie was a large part of that.

During my childhood, Robin Williams always seemed to pop up -- in the underrated Flubber, which was my favorite movie one summer (I even created a Weebo made out of paper), in Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest, and of course in the unforgettable Mrs. Doubtfire.

The incredible thing about Robin Williams is that, as I grew older, he didn't get left behind. Unlike so many actors that remain in the memories of youth, Robin Wiliams' range allowed me to enjoy him and his work as I went through my teenage years all the way into adulthood.

In the Dead Poets Society, Williams inspired us all to seize the day. He continued to inspire in films like Good Will Hunting, What Dreams May Come, and countless others. 

I guess the thing that bothers me so much about Williams' death is that it solidified the fact that none of us are immune. At 24, I know that we're all going to die someday. In the logical part of my mind, I've known that for many years. But the romantic, idealistic part of my mind never really accepted the fact that my heroes are not invincible.

Even someone so outwardly jovial and warmly funny like Robin Williams was plagued with a dark depression that no one could fix. It's a true tragedy for both the entertainment world and for mankind itself that this man will not live to tell another joke or to inspire the new generation as he inspired mine and others before me.

He will, however, live on in my mind and in the minds of millions. Robin Williams was truly funny, an immensely versatile talent, and seemed like a genuinely good man. The world is a little bit dimmer without him in it.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Top 5 Disney Channel Original Movies from the Late 1990s/Early 2000s

If you're a legitimate '90s kid like myself, you probably lived, ate, and breathed Disney Channel. You probably waited with bated breath for the newest Disney Channel Original Movie to be released. If you were anything like me, it was the highlight of your week (or your month, if it was a really good movie).

I remember vividly the intense feeling of sitting down right before the latest movie premiered and watching the little intro leading into the movie... you know the one, with all the kids jumping over film reels? Yeah, those were the days.

Anyway, I have compounded my version of the top 5 Disney Channel Original Movies. I may be biased, because most of the ones that I've chosen feature a female lead. Some of the more "boyish" ones kind of bored me as a child. But anyway! Here we go..

5. Smart House (1999)

I don't know about you, but nothing made me more excited about technology as Smart House.

If you don't remember, the gist is pretty simple: after his mother dies, this kid Ben (played by Ryan Merriman, who has most recently been seen as creepy Ian on Pretty Little Liars) enters a contest to win a "smart house." The house is pretty cool. Walls can turn into video screens where Ben and his sister, Angie, can play games or dance on the bed to the musical stylings of B*Witched.

The house is also fully automated with a computer named Pat. She essentially becomes the acting "mother" to the family. Ben gets upset when his father starts dating again, and essentially he re-programs Pat so that she becomes more and more self-aware. It gets pretty scary, because she's pretty controlling of the family.

The whole family gets trapped in the house until Ben finally finds a way to shut it down, saving the day.

This movie made me want to live in such a home (although I didn't want a creepy hologram to appear and try to be my mother). I basically wanted this:


4. Horse Sense (1999)

Oh the Lawrence brothers... In the 1990s, it was pretty common for at least one of the Lawrence brothers to pop up in any given show or movie that might play on the Disney Channel. 

In Horse Sense, spoiled Joey Lawrence is forced to spend a month at his aunt's ranch in Montana after having basically ignored his cousin (played by his real life brother Andrew Lawrence) upon his cousin's earlier visit.

The thing I remember most about Horse Sense is that, while it seemed like really hard work, I thought it might be really cool to live on a ranch. They had to get up super early and get their own eggs for breakfast and stuff like that. 

Joey Lawrence's character ends up growing by leaps and bounds as he has to end up trying really hard at all his ranch tasks so the ranch doesn't get foreclosed.

I don't remember the actual resolution to this movie, but it ended up spawning the sequel Jumping Ship, wherein the other Lawrence brother (Matthew, who you may remember as Jack Hunter on Boy Meets World) joins them.

3. Rip Girls (2000)

Rip Girls is the movie that really made me love the water. I already liked to swim, but this movie made me want to be in the water 24/7. I'll admit I used to pretend that my dinky, 3 foot, above-ground pool was actually the ocean in Hawaii and that I was surfing on my dumb flotation devices. I had an overactive imagination.

But I digress. Rip Girls, starring Camilla Belle before she was the subject of hate in a Taylor Swift song, was a fun movie about a girl named Sydney who moves to Hawaii and discovers more about her heritage. She makes a friend, Gia, who helps her learn to surf and immerse herself completely into the culture.

Sydney also finds out that she has inherited a good portion of the island, and there's all this stuff where a hotel chain wants to build on the land... but the surfing part is the best part.

Also, apparently B*Witched music was used for this movie as well. I wonder how much money they made off the Disney Channel?


2. Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century (1999)

In addition to pretending I was surfing waves in Hawaii, I also used to pretend that I lived on a spaceship. I really owe my imagination to Disney Channel, now that I'm thinking about it. 

Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century and its subsequent sequel (or zequel) were fun movies about a futuristic world in which people live on spaceships that are soaring through the universe. Wikipedia says that the movie takes place in 2049. I'm thinking we probably still won't be this advanced in 35 years, but I guess anything is possible. 

Anyway, Zenon (played by Kirsten Storms) is a 13-year-old girl who has grown up on a space station. She gets herself into trouble major and ends up getting sent down to Earth to live with her aunt. However, some evil genius dude is trying to sabotage the space station. Zenon tries to tell her parents, but alas, she is a child with an active imagination and they don't believe her.

More shenanigans happen and Zenon, with the help of her Earth friends, eventually save the day and the space station.

There's also this really cool band with this dude Proto Zoa who was probably a lot of girls' crush for at least a minute. After all the drama with the space station and going to Earth, Zenon and her friends (including her BFF Nebula, played by Raven-Symone) get to unwind with a fun concert. If you were a female, you probably wish you were in Nebula's shoes during this scene:


1. Halloweentown (1998)

Halloweentown is now and has always been my favorite Disney Channel Original Movie. It's possibly the reason I got into Disney Channel Originals as much as I did. I even named my cat after the main character (Marnie).

I remember my 8-year-old self seeing advertisements for this movie and looking forward to its release for what seemed like forever (but was probably closer to a month). Halloween is one of the most fun and interesting holidays for a child, and I was still young enough to buy into a lot of the myths. That made this movie even more fun for me.

Marnie Piper doesn't understand what her mom's deal is with Halloween. Marnie and her two siblings, Dylan and Sophie, never get to go out for Halloween. What she doesn't realize is that her family descends from a line of witches. Her grandmother (played by Debbie Reynolds) doesn't come to visit that often, but when she shows up around Halloween, Marnie and her siblings end up following her home... to Halloweentown.

It is at this time that Marnie discovers her heritage -- as well as her mom's. Marnie's mom has sworn off the world in which she was raised. Now, Marnie is discovering it for the first time. Marnie gets a broom from the broom shop, meets an assortment of ghouls and goblins, and ends up in a kind of battle with Kalabar, the evil mayor of Halloweentown.

Halloweentown was so popular that it spawned three sequels -- Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge, Halloweentown High, and Return to Halloweentown. None are as good as the original, although I remember thinking the second one was decent.

Looking at my choices now, I think my favorite Disney Channel movies are the ones that opened up a completely different world. It must have been something about the escapism I felt when I watched a girl's life in Hawaii or saw the kids partying and dancing to that song by 5ive in Smart House. If the movie took me out of my world and effectively took me away to another, it was a successful movie.

Honorable mentions go out to Double Teamed, the movie about the twins playing basketball, Cadet Kelly, with Hilary Duff in military school, and The Color of Friendship, which tackled more heavy topics (racism, politics). 

I have a soft spot for most of the old Disney Channel Originals. Even though Brink and Johnny Tsunami were played endlessly for what seemed like years, I'd still sit down and watch them now if given the chance. I don't know if Disney Channel is actually lamer now than when I was a kid or if I've just grown up to the point that none of the new stuff is interesting, but the nostalgia that these movies gives me now is going to leave them with a place in my heart for a very long time.

Which Disney Channel movies are your favorite? Do you agree or disagree with my choices?

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