Disney Channel Original Movies have been a staple of the network for nearly twenty years, but new DCOMs have been a rare breed in the past few years (only one in 2013 and last year saw just three). But 2015 is a new year and as the Disney studio gears up for what appears to be its most successful year at the box office ever, Disney Channel is ramping up DCOM production. The first of five scheduled for release this year is Bad Hair Day, which premiers Friday, February 13th, at 8:00pm.
Two major Disney Channel stars headline this comedy. Laura Marano is the costar of the hit series Austin & Ally and while she has so far taken a backseat to the rising fame of costar Ross Lynch, Disney Channel is finally giving her a chance at headlining a DCOM. Her costar is Leigh-Allyn Baker, most famous as Amy Duncan, the mom from Good Luck Charlie. These casting choices have been the main selling point of the film in all marketing efforts.
Like all DCOMs, the plot of Bad Hair Day is outrageously farfetched (thank you Agnes) and of the three writers it took to sculpt the screenplay, Billy Eddy has DCOM experience with Zapped and another upcoming film called Invisible Sister. However, Bad Hair Day is much more watchable than the other films in its category and this is perhaps partially attributed to director Erik Canuel. It’s his first time directing kid friendly fare. The colors are more realistic than what is typically on the network and settings feel more natural.
Laura Marano plays Monica, a tech savvy fashionista who has skipped a grade and is in the running to be prom queen. After a night of trying different hairstyles for an online cabal to pick her prom look, she wakes up with hair so damaged that it resembles overcooked bacon. To make matters worse, her dress and shoes have been ruined and her single father has to work. Her silver lining comes when a fake FBI agent arrives looking for a necklace (the one Monica was planning to wear to prom). After exposing Liz (Leigh-Allyn Baker) as a fraud, Monica learns that she is an ex cop who is tracking down a stolen necklace worth millions. Monica agrees to hand over the necklace only after Liz helps chauffeur her on an errand to fix her prom nightmares and get her drivers license.
What really makes the film work is the chemistry between Morano and Baker. The characters start out forced together, but grow on one another. They each have contradicting flaws and strengths, which makes them work best as a team. Morano’s character doesn’t have a mom and after being mistaken for a mother and daughter so frequently, the two develop a relationship not unlike a maternal love. Both characters could have easily become annoying, but Morano and Baker play them a little more straight than your average DCOM actor and they’re great together.
Another pleasant surprise is that the characters aren’t one dimensional or self absorbed. Monica is a well rounded teen who is smart, genuinely cares about her family and friends, and has a variety of interests. She’s definitely a good role model for kids and teens. Liz is a career woman who made a mistake that cost her her dream job. Her character anchors the film through some of its more ridiculous moments and ads some genuine heart.
Bad Hair Day is not only the best DCOMs of the past decade, it’s one of the best DCOMs ever! It’s a breath of fresh air on modern Disney Channel, a network I grew up with but have a hard time connecting with today. If this is any indication of the quality of the rest of 2015’s DCOMs, it’s going to be a great year.
I give Bad Hair Day 4 out of 5 bad hair days.