Growing up, the Disney Channel was a huge part of my childhood as well as many other people around my age. Just about every month there would be a new Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) that premiered and it was most definitely an exciting time. For the longest time, the only time you could see these movies, again and again, is when they would randomly play on television. Now, thanks to Disney Plus the majority of these films are here for everyone to revisit at just the click of a button.
I have decided to take a trip down memory lane and look back at the films that were part of a lot of childhoods. What holds up? What doesn’t? What should be remembered? What should be buried deep and forgotten forever?
The first ever DCOM came out in October 1997. It was directed by Greg Beeman, known for making the 80’s teen comedy License to Drive. Under Wraps is about three 12-year-olds named Marshall, Amy, and Gilbert. Marshall is obsessed with horror movies. Amy is a sophisticated girl who doesn’t have time for childish things. Gilbert is afraid of his own shadow. Together, they accidentally discover and revive a mummy. At first afraid, they find out that the mummy is friendly but if they don’t return him to his tomb he will never be able to rest.
Even though Disney Channel Original movies are so much more accessible these days, this one was not easy to find. It is not currently streaming on Disney Plus, so I had to find it on Youtube. It really is a shame that it isn’t easier to find because after rewatching it, I can honestly say it is pretty damn entertaining.
The movie starts off with a pretty intense fakeout. A family is enjoying dinner when suddenly the father is brutally murdered by a monster. It is only a movie though as our main characters are at the theatre. This sets the tone for the rest of the film. We are in for a fun time while pushing some boundaries here and there.
When our main characters discover the mummy we get a fish out of water story. The mummy(who our hero’s name Harold) does quite a lot while the kids try to find his resting spot. There is a pretty humorous scene where the mummy enters a hospital and is startled by everyone trying to help him thinking that he is a burn victim.
When some people think of Disney Channel, they think of corny jokes and kid-friendly messages. This movie definitely is a family film but it isn’t just looking to keep a child occupied for an hour and a half. There is a lot here for both adults and kids to enjoy.
A story like this could have easily come off as just silly, but with a fun script and good performances, this surpasses the usual Disney fluff.
The Acting and Effects
Some child performances sometimes do not seem real or believable in children’s films. The kids in this movie are great. They all have their own personalities and we get right away what they are all about. I believe that Marshall is a horror fan and that he would right away want to discover the secrets of the mummy instead of running away from him. The great Ed Lauter plays a villain in the film who wants to find the mummy and sell him and he is great at being a slimy criminal.
Bill Fagerbakke who many might know for voicing Patrick Star from Spongebob plays Harold the mummy and is perfect. He does slapstick very well and when there needs to be a quiet personal moment with the kids, he does that just as well also.
Bill also plays Marshall’s stepfather in the movie. Marshall is not comfortable with this new man in his life and spending time with this mummy helps him grow as a person throughout the film. It was an excellent call to have Bill play both roles. It reminded me of Peter Pan where usually the person playing Wendy’s father is also Captain Hook.
Even though a mummy is very different than a stepfather, Marshall realizes he can’t judge everything right away and that sometimes you need to put in work and understanding to get through difficult situations.
The effects and makeup used on the mummy are done very well for a tv film. You really forget Bill is playing two roles and it is never distracting.
For the first Disney Channel Original Movie, Underwraps does a lot of things right. It is funny, well-written, a little spooky, and just a good time. If this one didn’t work out, we may not have gotten many more movies in the future as the channel might not have seen the point.
This is also a fun introduction to horror films for kids and teens. As a lover of horror, I was excited to start with this movie and it did not disappoint. Hopefully Disney Plus will add this one to their library so others can rediscover or watch it for the first time because it definitely shouldn’t just be wrapped up for good.