The essential N&N quarantine movie guide

Now that you’ve got time on your frequently washed hands, what films should you watch from home while on COV-acation? We thought you’d never ask.


Anna McClellan

Graphic by Anna McClellan.

Madelynn Niles and Grace Nugent

Looking to take a break from walking around your neighborhood and scrolling endlessly on your phone? We’ve got the solution for you. Check out some of our stay-at-home-to-order movie picks for you to sit back and enjoy. We have films from a handful of different genres, viewing platforms, plus recent award winners and a few personal favorites thrown in. Whether you’re a thriller, a rom-com, or a Disney-movie viewer, there is a mini-review and linked trailer in this collection just for you. So sit back, pop some popcorn (after washing your hands, of course) and explore our selection. Since you can’t go to the movies and watch an excessive number of trailers, we provide you the opportunity to do all from the comfort of your own home. 

Comedy: Booksmart

Films depicting teenagers in high school are nothing new or original, with movies most often featuring archetypes such as the jock, the teenage princess, geeks, nerds and mean girls. You’ve got your Regina Georges, your Troy Boltons, your classics. We’ve seen this plotline before. Movies have come and gone, as well, with the female characters used merely as a device to explore the character depth of a male counterpart or, similarly, as an undeveloped love interest solely acting as arm candy or to fulfill the role of the damsel in distress, as seen in The Warriors, any Indiana Jones film and most action/adventure movies.

With Oliva Wilde’s Booksmart, however, a new archetype is born, influenced by those busybody type-A females like Saoirse Ronan’s Lady Bird and Kieran Shipka’s Sabrina. After striving to get good grades and missing out on the drunken and rebellious nature of high school, overachieving valedictorian and salutatorian best friends Amy (Kaitlyn Denver) and Molly (Beanie Feldstien) decide to pack four years of experiences into one wild night.

In a witty, comical tale of teenage awakening amidst parties, love and drugs (sorry parents), Booksmart is a go-to movie to enjoy while stuck in your house for three weeks. In a night of Lyft rides from an unexpected faculty member, unbreakable friendships and using library resources to locate the crazy grad night shebang, this movie will leave you wanting more high school friendships and laughable, unforgettable times.

It is said that journeys of self-discovery happen in high school. Well, this one happened to occur just hours after its conclusion.

— Grace Nugent

Drama: Dead Poets Society

From the words “O Captain, My Captain,” this film had me captivated. A beautiful movie about free-thinking that features some, let’s say, not-very-hard-to-look-at male actors (cough cough young Robert Sean Lenord). It is filled to the brim with beautiful new England landscapes, poetry by the light of a dim flashlight or single candlestick and a monstrosity of “horrible phalanx of pubescence.” I’m certainly not spoiling anything by stating that the theme and message of this movie is a Latin phrase used over and over (that some people don’t even know the meaning of): “Carpe Diem,” or seize the day.

Fueled by pressure, tragedy and most of all poetry, this movie will leave you asking questions and maybe even convince you to read some classic American literature. 

At the all-boys school of Walton Academy, tradition and excellence are the standards; however, when a teacher from the English department retires, his replacement, John Keating (Robin Williams), is a liberal teacher whose unorthodox methods contradict his colleagues’ conservative conventions. The young boys he attempts to motivate and “set free” face pressures from school and even more from their parents. The boys, inspired by an old yearbook and Mr. Keating re-initiate the Dead Poets Society where words drip like honey off the lips of the members and to the goal is to “live deep and suck the marrow out of life.”

Inspired by Keating’s nonconformist teaching methods, students such as Niel Perry (Robert Sean Lenord), Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke), Knox Overstreet (Josh Charles) and Charlie Dalton/Nuwanda (Gale Hansen) take a step toward embracing their dreams, breaking out of their shells and seizing the day. Fueled by pressure, tragedy and most of all poetry, this movie will leave you asking questions and maybe even convince you to read some classic American literature. 

— Grace Nugent

Rom-Com: 10 things I Hate About You 

I hate rom-coms, and I may be upsetting many people by saying this, but yeah, I hate them. I feel that they are tragically predictable: two people fall in love, then have a falling out, then fall in love again. Wow, shocker. That’s not always the reality of life, and by the beginning of the movie you already know the plot diagram and the ending.

Despite my hatred of rom-coms, the 1999 Disney-produced teenage rock-angst rom-com 10 Things I Hate About You is an exception. Maybe it’s the end of the ’90s beginning of the 2000s aesthetic or Heath Ledger’s singing, but this movie is certainly a must-watch despite its category.

The film follows two sisters: Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) and Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik) under the rule of their tyrannical overprotective father. The song, “Bad Reputation,” by Joan Jett best summarizes the protagonist, Kat, as she is smart and quite abrasive to her fellow teens compared to her precious flower of a sister. Due to this harsh exterior, Kat does not attract many guys and, to the chagrin of Bianca, the rule of the Stratford house is that Bianca can’t date until Kat has a boyfriend.

Enter new kid Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), lovesick for Bianca, and hotrod jerk Joey Donner (Andrew Keegan) to who pull a few strings to ensure that Kat gets a man in her life. The victim chosen is none other than Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger), a mysterious loner whose reputation is that of eating an entire duck and lighting a state trooper on fire. Both Kat and Patrick find out through paintball fights, sneaking out of detention and much more that not everyone is who they say they are, and if you look beneath the surface you may just find something unexpected.

— Grace Nugent


Indie: What We Do in the Shadows

A mockumentary about four, 100-plus-year-old vampires living in a flat in New Zealand. Need I say more? (Well I will.) Taika Waititi directs and stars in the movie (Didn’t he do the same thing in Jojo Rabbit? Yes, yes he did.) and brings a new original light to the traditional blood-sucking, gory and painfully romantic vampire movies (like Twilight).

These undead ‘heroes’ have a big, chaotic story to tell but the funniest parts of the movie often lie in the menial.

I would just like to say that I love Taika Watiti as a director, with his movies Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Boy and the first good Thor movie, Thor: Ragnarok, which all bring a new and different angle or idea to the screen. Waititi, a native of New Zealand, became an Indie darling with the release of What We Do in the Shadows in 2014. The film follows vampires Viago (Taika Waititi), a romantic 18th-century dandy, Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), known as Vladislav the Poker, a bit of a pervert, Deacon (Johnathan Brugh), the young bad boy of the group who dabbled in the art of being a Nazi before coming to Wellington and Petyr (Ben Fransham), who is 8,000 years young.

They are shown navigating werewolves, the complexities of the modern world and trying to deal with newly turned vampire Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macur), who has no idea of the rules and wonders of being undead.

It’s hilarious, conceptually clever and executed extremely well. With the addition of Nick to the pack of vampires, Stu (Stu Rutherford) comes along, a totally mortal bloke who seldom speaks, but the trio falls into a bromance as he shows them how to use the Internet and a printer to do “their dark bidding.” The small jokes that in other settings would be tedious are gleefully funny in this one. These undead “heroes” have a big, chaotic story to tell but the funniest parts of the movie often lie in the menial things like who has neglected to do the dishes in five years or the realization that vampire reflections can not be seen in a mirror.

While viewers might expect something thrilling and scary along the lines of the Blair Witch Project, they instead get an opening scene with an alarm clock going off and out of a coffin rises (and I mean like floats or whatever vampires do) Viago with his New Zealand accent to inform you that it is 6 p.m in the nighttime and that he must wake up his flatmates. The scene lets the viewer know that they are in for something completely different.

It is without the stereotypical storylines of the hardships of taking someone’s life to get food or the Twilight staple plotline:we must save the world.” The move is more about the nuts and bolts of trying to live a normal domestic life, well as normal as it can be when you’re undead. Other selling points: director-sanctioned montages, unique editing, eccentric vampires and even a few “werewolves not swearwolves.” 

— Grace Nugent


Musical: La La Land

The passion! The colors! And, I can not stress this enough, the soundtrack! Directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, this music-driven film depicts the enchanting heartbreak and beauty that comes alongside pursuing dreams through a love story between characters Mia and Sebastian, who both aspire to create, and, in correlation, to live. Mia, a hopeless romantic for Hollywood, first meets Sebastian in a truly capital R romantic encounter — with her flipping him off through her car window at a busy traffic stop. Out of chance, when walking into a club, the two cross paths again with just enough time for her to witness Sebastian’s first rendition of “Mia & Sebastian’s Theme,” an emotional piano tune recurring throughout the movie. Sebastian, who lives life for the jazz scene, rudely ignores her presence when given a compliment to the song, and the two-part again only to meet at another, later setting.

It is fate, and it is love, tangled between the seasons of the year and the lives of these two characters so passionate for everything surrounding them (which just so happens to be completely different things). I am a complete sucker for soundtracks, and I truly fall deeper in love with the music in this movie each time I watch it (and deeper in love with Ryan Gosling, but that’s beside the point). The dazzling colors of the city and the rich late-night jazz, the witty dialogue and the commentary upon the modern LA world, the little moments told through tunes bursting with passion — all of this swirls together into the ever-enchanting world of La La Land

— Madelynn Niles

Action/Adventure: Baby Driver

Calling all music, action, and Ansel Elgort fans — this is the film for you. With a stellar soundtrack and crazy encounters around each corner, director Edgar Wright creates a world of romance, of risk, and of extremely high stakes. Baby, who shines as the protagonist of the film, is a music fanatic, an orphan, and a boy who wants nothing more than to ride (or, most likely drive) off into the sunset with Debora, the sweet, gorgeous diner waitress at his regular stop for coffee.

His job as the elite getaway driver for heist mastermind Doc (Kevin Spacey), however, proves to be an obstacle to realizing his perfect life. His exceptional talent for these extreme drives has a key, too: music. At each robbery, Baby turns up the tunes, in essence forming a soundtrack to his life, with each beat and melody at the perfect time in correspondence to the car’s movement or the crime. This utilization of synchronous sound creates scenes that are wild, and that are beyond captivating. The use of colors, as well, creates a distinct world for these adventurous characters to thrive.

Unlike many modern movies we encounter today, this film isn’t a part of a franchise, an adaptation of previous work, or a portrayal of a true story. It is simply a boldly creative story, fresh and full of gunshots, disguises, and secrets. 

— Madelynn Niles

International Women’s Month Pick: Lady Bird

It is a Catholic high school, it is the midwest of California, and, like Ladybird says, “the only exciting thing about 2002 is that it’s a palindrome.”

Greta Gerwig makes her directorial debut bold and indescribably charming. She is, with complete professionalism, an absolute female icon in the movie world.

To be frank, she is not completely wrong in this statement. There are no massive events in this film or giant curveballs. There are no action-packed combat scenes or life-threatening circumstances the characters must face. This, however, is the exact charm of the movie that makes it so delightfully relatable and entertaining.

Lady Bird, which received 41 major nominations in 2018, follows the life of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) and the relationship between her and her mother (Laurie Metcalf), who is simultaneously deeply loving and greatly opinionated.

As this is one of my personal favorite films, I find something new to admire each time I rewatch (and rewatch and rewatch…) this endearing ode to teenagehood, and to life — the quick-witted comments regarding the shifting economic climate of the period, the time appropriate costuming and music (including the lovely early 2000s thrift store aesthetic and Alanis Morisette), and the overall feeling of perceiving the movie as a memory, hazy and filled with love and nostalgia.

There is something so universal about the encapsulation of each little moment in this film, as Greta Gerwig makes her directorial debut bold and indescribably charming. She is, with complete professionalism, an absolute female icon in the movie world, and this film shows exactly the style and execution she is capable of. 

— Madelynn Niles

Thriller: Joker

The first time I watched this film, everything felt tense. Stiff. The whole room, waiting, carefully watching each new shot flicker on the screen.

Joker, starring the incredibly believable Joaquin Phoenix as the titular villain, portrays the untold background of Arthur Fleck, an isolated, troubled man who aspires simply to be a comedian: to just make people laugh. With his day job as a downtown clown and his nights filled by tending to his mother, Fleck is disregarded by the highly rigid society of Gotham City, and he is often beaten down, both mentally and physically.

As I am not fully immersed in the world of DC, I was a little nervous about not fully grasping the context of the characters, but the script set up a world both easily understandable and incredibly gripping. Phoenix portrays this classic antagonist with such authenticity, both in disturbing and endearing terms, that I found myself really analyzing and observing his character development throughout the film. He is well-intentioned, but he commits unspeakable crimes. He views life through a harmful, cynical lens, but he cares deeply for his mother and is so vulnerable to others. There is something so compelling about this juxtaposition, emphasized both by the music and costuming, that an underlying question begins to arise: who is the true villain? 

— Madelynn Niles

Film by a female director: Little Women

Yes, we already have a Greta Gerwig movie on this list but what’s the harm in more Greta? The Oscars awards certainly didn’t have the same opinion (as she was snubbed for best director). Anywho there have been many films made to depict the quaint domestic reality of the novel Little Women by Luisa May Alcott. Greta Gerwig’s adaptation brings a progressive new take on the book and brings the novel towards women’s disposition and rights in the 1860s civil war era in which they live.

This wonderful movie respects the beloved tale and its original beauty, yet gives it a modern update to keep it fresh and relevant in the modern world. 

The film (like the novel) centers around the four March sisters, the eldest and most motherly Meg (Emma Watson), followed by headstrong Jo (Saoirse Ronan), the musical and shy Beth (Eliza Scanlen) and the clear-eyed somewhat bratty Amy (the amazing Florence Pugh), all nurtured by a loving and generous mother, Marmee (Laura Dern).

Gerwig takes the liberty to change the structure of the film to differ from the book, yet it still will bring smiles to the lips of diehard Little Women fans. It also sheds a light on more modern-day pop culture. The girls’ affectionate, boisterous, chaotic nature is a joy to watch with the addition of friendly, well-off and beautiful neighbor Laurie (Timothèe Chalamet) and the uptight, judgmental and sophisticated Aunt March (Meryl Streep) who isn’t married “because she’s rich.”

Instead of opening in the traditional wartorn Christmas breakfast, Gerwig introduces us to Jo seven years later in a visit with her New York publisher. From then on, the film zigzags between the years of childhood innocence, attic theater performances, sisters squabbling and the years with romance, tragedy and the everyday pains that come with growing up.

Along with this change, Gerwig also expands more on the character development of Amy; her character, dynamic and developing, is one to which many women can relate. She evolves and matures from a spoiled child to a sophisticated, determined and independent woman. This wonderful movie respects the beloved tale and its original beauty, yet gives it a modern update to keep it fresh and relevant in the modern world. 

— Grace Nugent


Sports: Remember the Titans

Now I believe that sports movies could go one of two ways: amazing, heartfelt, with a universal human element and an accurate portrayal of the sport or it’s terrible, melodramatic, where the sport merely serves as a vehicle for a tired, recycled plotline. Remember the Titans is in the former category, joining the ranks of The Blind Side and Eddie the Eagle as sports films done very well.

In Alexandria, Va., football is a way of life; it’s a code woven into the very fabric of society, where the players are treated like gods. It is 1971, and Alexandria is both segregated and stressful when the local school board is forced to integrate an all-black school with an all-white school the tensions rise to a breaking point.

One of the first things to be affected is high school football at the newly created T.C. Williams High School. With the schools integrating, the board, as a pity move, selects a new black head coach, Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) and pushes the previous head coach, Bill Yoast (Will Patton), of the formerly all-white school to the defensive coordinator position.

Through the locker room singalongs to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” the 3 a.m. runs and Friday night games, football connects the boys, even those with societal prejudices based on skin color. With strong characters like Gary Bertier (Ryan Hurst), Julius Cambell (Wood Harris), Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass (Kip Pardue), and many others, not to mention a certain very attractive young Ryan Gosling. This heartwarming story of looking past race and coming together to play football is one not soon forgotten, with moments of laughter and moments of pain but throughout the emotional highs and lows two things remain constant: football and brotherhood.

— Grace Nugent

Tarantino pick: Inglorious Bastards

Before anyone says anything about this not being the correct Tarantino pick, let me just conceded that there is no argument that Pulp Fiction is Quienten Tarantino’s masterpiece. It redefined structure, language and rhythm of film-making, earning its well-deserved reputation title the Star Wars of independent films.

But my personal favorite Tarantino film is one with a different wartorn, Brad Pitt with a southern accent, Hitler yelling “Nein Nein Nein” variety. Instead of “Once upon a time in a galaxy far far away,” it was “Once upon a time in Nazi-occupied France.” I speaking, of course, of Inglorious Bastards. While advertised as Third Reich-revision variation of Kill Bill, and despite gory slogs to the head with a baseball bat, the movie is a pleasant surprise. The film stitches together chapters centered around different people beginning with a scene in the French countryside with “the Jew Hunter” Colonel Hans Linda played by Christoph Waltz who collected an Academy Award for Best Actor in a supporting role for his efforts, then cuts to the “Bastards,” a group of Jewish-American soldiers, most notably Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger) who is accompanied by his own rock anthem, and “the bear Jew” (Eli Roth), who bashes Nazi’s skulls with a baseball bat. These fearless men are led by fearless (-ly attractive) Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) a.k.a. Aldo the Apache.

While Aldo and his bastards are dropped behind enemy lines and cause havoc, Jewish cinema owner Shoshona (Mélanie Laurent), who escaped the murder of her family by Colonel Linda in the fantastic opening sequence, catches the eye of Nazi hero and budding movie star Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Brühl).

The bastards on their mission of “killing Nazi’s” begin working with double agent German actress Bridget Von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) to kill even more of “the foot soldiers of a Jew-hating, mass-murdering maniac, that need to be destroyed.” This leads to even more Brad Pitt mountain man speeches and the sounds of lots of machine guns. This may seem like a lot of moving parts, and it is, but what Tarantino film doesn’t have a lot of moving parts?

Inglorious Bastards will appeal to action-movie fans, World War II enthusiasts and even regular Joes all over the world. The movie also features lots of jabs at World War II-era and modern propaganda while calling necessary attention to the plight of the Jews and above all the camaign to terminate the Nazis by the bastards.

The movie is not for the timid. Like more well-known Tarantino classics, Inglorious Bastards is filled with blood, gore, Brad Pitt and (in IB‘s case) Nazi scalps.

— Grace Nugent

Wes Anderson pick: Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom is the dream that you fall deeply into late at night, so wildly entertaining and drenched with color, life and bizarre circumstances that you wake up wanting nothing more than to fall asleep and witness more. It is a tale of love, of imagination and naiveté, of lefty scissors assaults and looking ahead (through binoculars) without hesitation, and of diving into the shimmering turquoise waters of Mile 3.25 Tidal Inlet or, as it is later deemed by the two protagonists, Moonrise Kingdom.

Get psyched for the new Wes Anderson film coming out this summer by indulging in this story.

Twelve-year-olds Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) first meet in the most unconventional of ways — as are most of the encounters in this film — at a church play in which Sam, attending the event as a part of the Khaki Scouts, stumbles into the girls dressing room and asks Suzy, adorned in black feathers and enchantingly dark eyeshadow, “What kind of bird are you?” The remainder of their relationship follows a journey based first upon back-and-forth pen-pal letters, handwritten in spiraled pink cursive and childish pencil etchings, and later an eclectic runaway from their broken homes and into the wilderness of the island of New Penzance.

Wes Anderson does it again with this 2012 award-winning world of youthfulness and creativity, with the dialogue, costumes and curiously quirky characters transporting you into a place so far from what you know yet so beautifully nostalgic that you giggle with awe at each frame. Get psyched for the new Wes Anderson film coming out this summer by indulging in this story; one of my personal favorites!

— Madelynn Niles

Hulu: I, Tonya

From airborne knives thrown by her mother in the heat of an argument to frilly pink bows sewn upon competition costumes, the story of Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding is anything but ordinary — and nothing short of a roller-coaster of emotions so gripping you’ll question whether it is appropriate to laugh or to cry (likely both).

Starring Margot Robbie, Allison Janney and Sebastian Stan, this film, based upon the true story of Harding’s life and career, challenges the media’s portrayal of “the incident,” as it is referred to in the movie: the assault of Harding’s fellow Olympic skater, Nancy Kerrigan. Hints of Harding being and not being the attacker during the following weeks of the assault (and, really, for the rest of her life) create the classic “was she or wasn’t she?” plot line to follow, with this film shining light on Tonya’s success and innocence.  She chops wood every morning, she is handy with a wrench and a car, and she was the first American woman to ever complete the highly-coveted triple axel at the Olympics.

As stated in the movie, you either love her or you hate her, but with Robbie’s endearing acting, it becomes difficult to feel the latter. The cast and the dialogue breathe new life into this story, with major awards in acting, costuming and editing. Allison Janney, who portrays Tonya’s mother, brings the film the most brutally hilarious and painfully intense dialogue, earning a 2018 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and Margot Robbie won several other recognitions for her acting as the controversial skater. It is a story of duality and family, of sacrifice and of truth (if such a thing exists). 

— Madelynn Niles

Netflix: Bolt

There’s a talking dog, and there’s stuff that blows up, but that’s not what makes this 2008 animated Disney film worthy of inclusion here. The classic only grows in loveliness as it ages, following the tale of movie star canine Bolt (John Travolta) and his journey away from his owner Penny (Miley Cyrus), in which he follows a tattered map from the food chain Waffle World, meets a beyond hilarious hamster and discovers his true self. A heartwarming soundtrack meets a playful plot line and simple, childlike animation as viewers watch Bolt first encounter the real world that surrounds him (surprisingly lacking in evil villains, superpowers and laser beam vision).

As the plot progresses, viewers get to witness the development of not only the protagonist pup, but of his counterpart, a cheeky cat named Mittens (Susie Essman) and, of course, self-proclaimed “beyond awesome” little Rhino the hamster (Mark Walton). Each of the characters tie in different stories, lessons, and giggle-inducing one-liners that are able to please both little ones and adults alike.

It is silly, but it is entirely entertaining. It is unabashedly adorable, yet it will still tug at your heartstrings.

— Madelynn Niles

Amazon Prime: A Quiet Place, Midsommar

Normally I am a very decisive person but Amazon Prime has a tie for its prime pick between two smashingly good horror films.

Midsommar is one and A Quiet Place is the other — both done well and entertaining. Now I know Midsommar was already mentioned in a previous Shield article but for a lack of horror on this list and just its entrancing nature, I am going to mention it again. A Quiet Place (and maybe it is just because of John Krazinki’s looks) is also a top competitor.

While Midsommar may be a creepy cult classic that defies many horror movie conventions, A Quiet Place is more along the lines of your typical monster movie.

Midsommar, a cult horror starring Florence Pugh is about of crazy cult of weirdness wrapped in a bouquet of pastels. Ari Aster who directed Hereditary (also available on Amazon Prime) takes the viewer on bad trips, breakups and betrayal and by the end of the movie you are asking the question of what in the he-double hockey sticks just happened.

The protagonist Dani (Florence Pugh) amidst anxiety attacks and troubles with her relationship go with her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) and his friends to Sweden to visit one of their hometowns as it is having a Midsommar festival. What starts as a beautiful getaway quickly turns into grotesque and horrific events at the hands of a pagan cult. Although it is a horror movie, this movie is also beautiful with colors that juxtapose the dreadful nature of this film and a lead actress who makes you believe anything is possible.

While Midsommar may be a creepy cult classic that defies many horror movie conventions, A Quiet Place is more along the lines of your typical monster movie. With a thrilling chilling soundtrack, lots of sand and a few jump scares, you can’t help but be moved by the beautiful silence that is A Quiet Place.

Directed by Jim from The Office (John Krasinski) in a post-apocalyptic world, the Abbott family must live in silence and fear of the “monsters” that hunt by sound. If they hear you they hunt you. Parents Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and Lee (John Krasinski), who run a survivalist smallholding in the countryside, try to find a way to protect their children and fight back against this evil.

When they sang “no one dread disturb the sound of silence,” Simon and Garfunkel  weren’t thinking of this movie, but the lyric provide a perfect tag line. This movie will leave you on the edge of your chair gripping the sides. Who knew silence could be so captivating? 

— Grace Nugent

Disney Plus: Lemonade Mouth

In the wise words of 2011 Bridgit Mendler, “Come on, come on turn up the music. It’s all we got, we’re gonna use it.” This piece of absolute childhood nostalgia for 2000s kids brings together an unlikely group of teens united by music in one of the classic Disney Channel Original Movies (or, DCOM, if you’re a true fan).

While all overcoming individual struggles, the band members Olivia (Mendler), Wen (Adam Hicks), Mo (Naomi Scott), Charlie (Blake Michael) and Stella (Hayley Kiyoko) join together to compete against a popular rock band at their school comprised solely of absolute d-bags insistent on crushing their dreams. Classic. The catchy original tunes, budding highschool romances, giggle-worthy moments and development of multiple different types of characters allow for a readily enjoyable film, despite the evident cheesiness. It touches upon important lessons while still allowing for fun — what Disney seems to do best with these movies.

And, of course, it is the birthplace of some absolute anthems. “She’s So Gone,” featuring Naomi Scott, gives viewers a strong connection to this female role model taking pride in her individualism and defying the status quo, and “Determinate” reminds us of the importance of not giving up, of pushing forward, and, of course, to d-d-terminate (it will also be stuck in your head).

In this time of caution and instability, these messages can be, although sometimes tacky, comforting and enjoyable to experience. And who knows? Maybe you’ll be inspired to make some music of your own.

— Madelynn Niles