"The Parent Trap (1998)"
by Kevin Carr
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|| MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Lindsay Lohan as HALLIE PARKER
Lindsay Lohan as ANNIE JAMES
Dennis Quaid as NICK PARKER
Natasha Richardson as ELIZABETH JAMES
Elaine Hendrix as MEREDITH BLAKE
Lisa Ann Walter as CHESSY
Simon Kunz as MARTIN
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Directed by: Nancy Meyers
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It seems like an odd thing to say, but watching the 1998 version of “The Parent Trap” stirs up a whole slew of odd emotions for me. It has nothing to do with love for the original, for I actually never saw the 1961 version until after I had seen this one. Rather, the emotions I felt were awe and regret.
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First, my feeling of awe was for the young Lindsay Lohan. She had mighty big shoes to fill, and she did a great job stepping into them as they were worn by Haley Mills more than 35 years before. As a young child, Lohan was a great little actress. She managed to play dual roles possibly better than Haley Mills had.
The other reason I felt awe was because I was markedly impressed by how the special effects were achieved in this film. While there were plenty of new tricks, including computer manipulation and digital composting, this film was put together relatively low-key. Cinematographer Dean Cundy made it a point to not make the movie look like they were utilizing special effects. In fact, the film was shot as if there were really two actresses rather than carefully stage things for one girl to hide behind.
However, I felt regret as well. Part of my regret was for the fact that Charles Shyer and Nancy Meyers are no longer a filmmaking team. For whatever their personal differences were, the two of them made a great pair. They managed to put out some of the better family-style films of the 1990s. With a light-hearted charm that I’ve only seen elsewhere in Garry Marshall, these two really worked well together.
But alas, their relationship ended. For a fictionalized account of that, watch “Something’s Gotta Give.” I won’t bore you with the specifics.
The other level of regret I felt was again for Lindsay Lohan. If there was ever a bright star of talent in her early days, it is Lohan. The girl reminds me of Drew Barrymore, although little Drew got herself cleaned up by her 13th birthday. Lohan is still running wild out there in Hollywood.
“The Parent Trap” provides a nice snapshot of Lohan before she became a tabloid nightmare. She really had a sweet personality that came across in this film. Indeed, the movie itself was on her shoulders, and she pulled through with flying colors.
Mirroring the plot of the original “The Parent Trap,” this version has one twin from wine country and the other from London. Again, they meet at summer camp, and again they plan to switch places in order to trick their parents into falling in love.
The parents in this go-round are played by Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson. Both do a fine job, but in some ways it is the supporting characters of Chessy (Lisa Ann Walker) and Martin (Simon Kunz) who steal the show from the adult perspective.
In order to keep true to the original film, the story takes a while to play out, bringing the kids home from camp, out to California, on a camping trip and then in a last-ditch effort to reunite their parents. It runs a bit long, but I don’t fault the filmmakers here. In fact, its running time is only one minute off of the original.
The DVD includes featurettes on “Updating a Classic,” “How Hallie Became Annie” and “Accent on Fun,” which focused on the dialogue coaches that helped Lohan master her English accent. There’s also a deleted scene in which Hallie happens to meet the Queen of England, with optional director commentary. Finally, there’s a nice audio commentary with Charles Shyer and Nancy Meyer, walking us through the film.
“The Parent Trap” was one of the better live-action Disney family films of the 1990s, put together better than “George of the Jungle” and “101 Dalmatians.” If you can still look upon Lindsay Lohan as the sweet, innocent child, it’s a nice family film.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (1.85:1), enhanced for 16x9 televisions. French language track and subtitles; English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.