The spunky Lindsay Lohan, the lead in Disney's remake of THE PARENT
TRAP is one of the best new actresses in years. A stunning 11 year-old
redhead with a freckled face, she charms the audience in her every
scene. Rather than attempting to recreate the Hayley Mills role from
the 1961 classic, she brings her own vivacious freshness to make it a
completely different movie, albeit with the same plot.
Whether you like the original movie or not, you will love the
delightful remake. Part comedy and part romance, the movie can even
bring the audience to tears with its considerations of the bonds that
exist between parent and child.
The film's lovely script is by Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer, the
writing team for the wonderful FATHER OF THE BRIDE movies. They have a
talent for blending in just enough silly comedy to win the hearts of the
youngest members of the audience, while still keeping the story
intelligent and the characters richly drawn. Meyers, who tries her hand
at directing for the first time in this film, has a good sense of timing
and a knack for staging that ranges from the sweet to the slapstick
without ever going overboard.
In the story, two twins, Hallie Parker and Annie James, both played
by Lindsay Lohan in a seamless bit of Disney magic, are off to the same
camp. Hallie lives with her dad, played by Dennis Quaid in one of his
better performances, on the estate of his sumptuous Napa Valley
vineyard. In contrast, Annie and her mother Elizabeth, played
charmingly by Natasha Richardson, live in the hustle and bustle of
central London, where Elizabeth is a wedding dress designer.
Both families are rich enough to have their own butlers, although
Americans would never call them such, of course, since it would imply
some sort of class system. Martin (Simon Kunz) works for the mother,
and Chessy (Lisa Ann Walter) is employed by the father. Both have more
than enough personality to be the stars of their own movies. They are
more like part of the family than hired help, and they significantly add
to rather than merely complement the storyline.
The setup for the plot is that the girls do not know they are twins
and have never seen their other parent. After a fencing match at camp,
they are shocked to pull off their masks to see their own reflection in
the other person's face. Thinking at first that they only look alike
but aren't related, they begin playing a series of practical jokes on
each other in an intense but good-hearted version of peer rivalry.
These scenes will send the younger members of the audience rolling in
giggles, but they are done with enough class to amuse the adults as
Putting together a torn picture from the QE2 of a single parent
each, they realize their kinship. In a scene that may put goose pimples
on your skin, they hug each other voraciously. Imagine being an only
child and meeting the twin whom you never knew you had. Wanting never
to be torn asunder again, they devise a plan to bring their divorced
parents back together. By swapping places, each will get to meet the
other parent. And when their trickery is discovered, the parents will
be forced to meet when they unswap them.
The girls have such genuine chemistry for each other that the
audience is rooting for them to pull off their big scheme. And when the
scenes occur where they meet their other parent for the first time,
don't be surprised if you get a little teary eyed. Each thinks their
new parent is nothing short of terrific.
From this point on, the story has the good judgement to focus more
on the relationship than the gimmicks of the impersonations. Still, the
old game of "which twin is which" is fun.
Next to the standout performance by Lindsay Lohan is the acting by
Elaine Hendrix as the 26-year-old gold digger, Meredith Blake, who has
set her sights on marrying Nick's money. Driving a red BMW convertible,
talking incessantly on her cell phone, and generally fawning all over
Nick, Meredith sees dollar signs behind every grapevine. Impeccably
dressed, she is light years away from being interested in becoming a
soccer mom. She plans to ship Hallie off to boarding school at the
first possible opportunity. When the two twins start conniving ways to
eliminate her, the film is at its comedic best.
Perhaps the most amazing part of THE PARENT TRAP is its universal
appeal. It will delight all sexes and ages, even adults with no
children. Few films can pull this off, but THE PARENT TRAP does with
almost complete success.
THE PARENT TRAP runs 2:03. It is rated PG for reasons that are not
immediately obvious, and the movie should appeal to all ages.
My son Jeffrey and his buddy Nickolas, both 9, loved the movie and
each gave it ****. They particularly liked the twins and the butlers,
and their favorite scenes were those at camp as well as the camping
scene at the end.
Copyright © 1998 Steve Rhodes