We continue walking down memory lane with the Disney Channel Original Movies. Now we have Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century.
The year is 2049 and Zenon is a 13-year-old girl who lives on a space station orbiting Earth. She hangs around with her friends, spits out many catchphrases, and gets into trouble. When she discovers a plot by the owner of the space station to crash it and collect the insurance money, she immediately reports it. No one believes her though and as punishment, she is grounded. Literally! She is sent to Earth to stay with her aunt. Along the way, Zenon must get used to a whole new scenario while trying to find a way back into space to save her friends and family.
I remember this movie being insanely popular when I was younger but for some reason, I could never get into it. Maybe I was busy watching other things at the time. I am here now to say that while not a perfect movie, it is pretty interesting.
I could have sworn from memory that Zenon was some sort of alien who came to Earth. With a name like Zenon could you blame me? It is good that even though this is sci-fi fantasy there is a real-world feel here.
The concept of a teenager coming to Earth and having to get used to things is an idea worth exploring. If you lived most of your life on a space station, most things that happen on Earth would be foreign to you. Unfortunately, we don’t explore this idea enough.
Like many early Disney Channel Original Movies, Zenon takes a while to get going. In the beginning, we see her hanging out with her best friend Raven-Symone, dancing to her favorite music, attending classes, and getting into trouble. These scenes are fine but after a while, I kept waiting for something to happen.
The movie definitely picks up when Zenon discovers the big bad guy is up to something. This is where the best parts of the movie come in while also somehow being surrounded by the worst parts.
Zenon’s parents are so frustrating in this movie. I get that Zenon doesn’t behave but the punishment you choose is for her to be sent to a place she doesn’t know? A place that she has been taught is full of crime and muggers and natural disasters. She accuses someone of a serious crime and you automatically punish her instead of looking into it? The crime of crashing a space station to collect the insurance money thus killing tons of people is pretty insane and over the top in the best way for a kid’s film by the way.
Zenon is shown to be a troublemaker, not a liar. The middle here has scenes with the parents still not believing her and it’s cliche and annoying.
When Zenon is on Earth, it’s pretty fun. I kind of like that we are supposed to be in the future and nothing really looks that different. In a lot of movies, the future has so much new technology and gadgets. Nope! It is still just Earth. I think I saw a flying car in the background but I am also pretty sure it was just one flying car. That would make sense to me. Not everyone could probably afford those things.
Zenon stays with her wacky aunt who is caring and way better than her parents. She finds new friends who are willing to help her find the evidence she needs to save the space station. She also develops a crush on a boy who is very very thirsty. Seriously, the way the boy stares at her in every single scene made me very uncomfortable.
There is one mean girl who really gives Zenon a hard time for no reason. She is pretty lackluster and doesn’t add much to the movie. Similar to the parents, bad stuff surrounds good stuff.
The fish-out-of-water stuff is entertaining. It’s funny that even though we see Zenon attend classes on the space station, they must not teach her the basics as she doesn’t know what money or rain is. Seeing her grow as a character and realize that her world was so small is great. Unfortunately, there is not much of this and we have to get back to space to defeat the big bad guy.
The acting is kind of all over the place. Zenon and her friends are fine and likable for the most part. There is a side plot where Zenon’s favorite band Proto Zoa is running a contest for a lucky winner to sing and dance on stage with them. The band exists so we can have a musical number at the end of the film. Either way, this character is awful. Everything he says is awful. I get what they were going for especially with how popular boy bands were but the cringe was all too real at times.
The effects also are all over the place. The space station is really cool to see. It has a fun design and everything looks as if it belongs. Nothing looks too over the top and it gives that real-world feel I liked. The outside of the space station though looks awful. The space CGI is some of the worst I’ve seen but knowing this is a television movie for kids, I can give it a pass.
Zenon is an interestingly fun time. There is cheesy stuff here and there and some characters and plot points can be frustrating but I also don’t think this movie was meant for me. If I had given this movie more of a chance as a kid, I probably would have loved it. As an adult, I can see children really getting into Zenon finding love and getting into trouble with her friends, and dancing to her favorite band. I just felt the Earth stuff was more interesting than the space stuff. For an hour and a half though, I’m not upset I watched it. If you are looking for a harmless fun time, I’d say fasten your seatbelts, blast off, and check it out.