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"THE PARENT TRAP"
(1998) (Lindsay Lohan, Dennis Quaid) (PG)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Minor Moderate Minor *Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Minor None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Mild Minor Minor Minor Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama/Comedy: Two eleven-year-old twins, separated at birth, accidentally meet and decide to get their divorced parents back together again.
PLOT:
Hallie Parker (LINDSAY LOHAN) and Annie James (also LINDSAY LOHAN) are two eleven- year-old twins who've never known of the other's existence because they were separated at birth. Hallie grew up in Napa Valley with her dad, Nick (DENNIS QUAID), a successful vineyard owner, and her nanny, Chessy (LISA ANN WALTER). Annie grew up in London with her mother, Elizabeth James (NATASHA RICHARDSON), a renowned wedding gown designer, her grandfather (RONNIE STEVENS) and butler, Martin (SIMON KUNZ).

When the girls accidentally meet at a summer camp in Maine, they initially don't get along due to their different personalities, backgrounds, and upbringing. After discovering that they each own half of a torn picture featuring both of their parents, however, the two realize they're twins. Consequently, they set into motion a plan -- each returning to the other's home and posing as the other -- that they hope will reunite their parents.

While each family is a little suspicious of their newly changed daughter, things go well until Annie, posing as Hallie, learns that her father is planning to get married. Surprisingly, everyone but Nick can tell that his beautiful, but snobbish fiancÚ, Meredith Blake (ELAINE HENDRIX), is out only for his money. As such, and realizing that if their father gets remarried they'll never have the chance to be a whole family, Annie and Hallie set up another plan hoping to drive Meredith away while getting their parents back together again.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
It's hard to say since few probably know about the 1961 original. Even so, the concept of the story may entice some into wanting to see it.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
For some mild mischief.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • LINDSAY LOHAN plays both twins who initially pull pranks on each other, but join forces once they learn they're sisters. Beyond pulling some other pranks on their father's snobbish fiancÚ, their goal is to reunite their parents.
  • DENNIS QUAID and NATASHA RICHARDSON play the twins' divorced parents, and other than Elizabeth being drunk in one scene, and the subtext of them seemingly not caring about their other, long gone child, both are okay role models.
  • ELAINE HENDRIX plays Nick's snobbish fiancÚ who can't stand the twins and seemingly only wants to get married for Nick's money.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
    Disney plunders its live action film archives once again -- after recent versions of "That Darn Cat," "The Absentminded Professor," and others -- in this remake of the 1961 film of the same name. Originally starring Hayley Mills in the dual sister roles along with Brian Keith and Maureen O'Hara, the original isn't a Disney classic, but is beloved by many who grew up with it.

    Pretty much faithful to the original, this remake essentially follows the same plot (with newly named characters and locales) and even clocks in at nearly the same, but still quite overlong running length of a little more than two hours.

    That said, it's not a great film by any means and is at least half an hour too long, but it still comes across as an enjoyable enough, although lightweight diversion that should at least partially please nearly everyone who sees it. Even so, the odds are that the fans of the original will like it more than the kids of today who may find the proceedings either too quaint (if they're older) or too restless (if they're younger).

    Aside from the preposterous notion that serves as the story's catalyst -- of two parents splitting a set of identical twins at birth with each taking one and never even trying to contact the other for more than a decade -- the plot is serviceable but nothing outstanding. Nonetheless, the writing/directing/producing team of Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer (the "Father of the Bride" movies, "Private Benjamin") have included enough funny, charming, and occasionally heartfelt moments to please all but the most hardened of cynics.

    They seem to have missed, however, a gold mine of potential during the scenes where the two girls assume the other's identity and go back to live with the parents they've never known and the homes they've never seen. Getting past the curious fact about why the girls would have photos of everyone they know with them at summer camp (used to teach the other the faces of those they're about to meet), a few minor laughs occasionally occur, but the filmmakers (with the assistance of fellow scribe David Swift -- the writer/director of the original film as well as "Pollyanna") neglect the many comic opportunities that naturally would arise from such a "fish out of water" setup.

    Instead, everything moves along at a predictable pace, with nothing grand, special, or particularly interesting occurring along the way. We are "treated," however, to yet another varied soundtrack of songs from different eras that accompanies the "action," and one gets the feeling that all of the songs are there only to sell yet another soundtrack compilation. Fortunately, most of that disappears in the second half, although in its absence one notes that the music often infused some much needed energy into many of the scenes.

    Technically, the effect of placing young actress Lindsay Lohan simultaneously into the same scene as both twins is seamless (via a motion-control camera that tracks and recreates the same camera movement from an earlier take). While Lohan doesn't do much more than use a British accent to differentiate the characters, the two do seem to be distinct personas and one quickly forgets the technical trickery that's making such scenes possible.

    Playing the twin parts and assuming the beloved role played by Hayley Mills in the original, Lindsay Lohan is charming and likeable enough to make the role her own. While her characters aren't that different -- notwithstanding the accents and basic cultural background differences -- Lohan deserves kudos for being able to play against her "other" self when in fact she was never really there.

    As the adults, Dennis Quaid ("The Big Easy," "Something to Talk About") and Natasha Richardson ("Nell," "Patty Hearst") are just as likeable, and easily fit into the characters we naturally want to see get back together just as much as their daughters do.

    Elaine Hendrix ("Romy and Michele's High School Reunion") chews up the scenery in her stereotypical, snobbish character, but Lisa Ann Walter and Simon Kunz ("Four Weddings and a Funeral") steal the show -- particularly Kunz -- in their "hired help" roles.

    It's nice to see a pro-family movie, especially one where the kids obviously love and praise their parents and wish for them to be one big, happy family. Most kids should easily get that message beyond all of the hijinks and kid-oriented material that occur, but the film's length of a little more than two hours might prove restless, especially for younger ones. Likewise, adults may find themselves wishing the film were at least a half hour shorter, as the film tends to get a bit tedious particularly as the proceedings draw to a close.

    Even so, you can't help but like this charming little film that feels like a throwback to those pictures the Disney studios used to make (when compared to the more hyped up recent remakes of their other live action pictures). While way too long and lacking in originality or surprises, the winning performances and overall charm the film easily exudes makes it a worthwhile antidote for moviegoers looking for a family film amidst the choppy, testosterone filled seas of the summer movie season. We give "The Parent Trap" a 6 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the film's content. Some bad attitudes appear in the movie, with Meredith displaying the most as a gold digger who can't stand Nick's kid(s), and the girls respond back at her with various pranks intended to drive her away. In doing so, those actions and some other material may prove to be imitative fodder to some kids.

    The mother appears slightly drunk in one scene, and a few minor, sexually related comments are made in others. Beyond that, most of the other categories have little or no major objectionable material. Even so, and particularly since parents will probably want to take their kids to see this film, you might want to take a closer look at any of the content that you may deem questionable.



    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Nick and Elizabeth have wine at their 1986 wedding reception.
  • Nick brings out champagne for him and Meredith.
  • Since Nick owns a vineyard, we see several bottles of wine around the house, many barrels of wine, and his own wine closet (room) in his basement.
  • Meredith asks Nick if he'd like a martini and he says to make his a double (we never see them).
  • Martin brings in wine for dinner at the James' residence, and Hallie, posing as Annie (and with experience growing up at a vineyard) asks to have a sip, which her mother allows.
  • Arriving in California and nervous about meeting Nick after all the years, Elizabeth gets out of a car at the hotel and downs the rest of a mini airline bottle of vodka. She appears to be drunk and others comment on her condition.
  • Meredith drinks a martini at a hotel bar.
  • Martin brings out champagne for Nick and Elizabeth.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Although not bloody, we do see a needle go into Annie's ear as Hallie pierces it for her.
  • Nick has a tiny, bloody scrape above his eyebrow (after falling into a pool and bumping into people) that Elizabeth tends to.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Hallie and Annie have a little of both toward each other upon first meeting (slightly belittling and commenting on looks -- which, of course, are identical -- or pulling pranks on the other), but they quickly come around to liking each other.
  • Later, however, they have it out for Meredith and pull pranks on her, call her Cruella (DeVil), and do everything in their power to keep their dad from marrying her.
  • Nick and Elizabeth have both for having never attempted to see their other child (although they're very loving once they do see them again).
  • Meredith has both for not only disliking the twins, but also for seemingly wanting to marry Nick only for his money.
  • The girls tell little white lies to get their parents back together again.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Some younger kids may find an ear piercing scene (where a needle ominously comes down and then through an earlobe, accompanied by a scream) as unsettling (but there's no blood and the scene is short).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • We briefly see a guard/soldier in London who's holding a rifle (in a near statue-like pose).
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Whip your tush" (what Martin says to Annie about someone perhaps beating her at cards), "Butt naked" (which also could have been "but naked" when Hallie says that the loser in a card game would have to "jump into a lake, butt (or but) naked"), "You little punk" (said lovingly by Nick to Annie posing as Hallie), "Squirt," "Nuts" (crazy), "Smarty pants," "Puss" (what Meredith calls Annie posing as Hallie), "Sucks," "Zonked" (for drunk), "Bloody" (the British adjective) and "Idiot."
  • Some kids may want to try sparring with each other after seeing the twins involved in a fencing match.
  • The twins pull some pranks on each other: Having lost a hand of poker, Annie is forced to jump into a lake naked, and Hallie and other kids take her clothes. To retaliate, Annie (and presumably others) put Hallie's and her cabin-mates' beds on the roof of their cabin. Finally, Hallie and friends booby trap Annie's cabin, spilling cooking oil onto the floor, setting up water filled balloons to fall on their heads -- as well as a bucket of chocolate syrup -- and pouring honey and spraying whipped cream onto the sleeping girls.
  • The girls eat Oreo's dipped into peanut butter.
  • Hallie cuts Annie's hair to match hers, and then pierces her ears (by using a needle sterilized with a lit candle).
  • Elizabeth loudly belches after drinking some sort of drunken remedy concoction.
  • The twins put rocks in Meredith's backpack while hiking and later put a lizard in her hair (and reportedly gave her a sugar and water mix to use as mosquito repellent). Later, they drag her and the air mattress she's sleeping on out into the lake (where she wakes up the next morning).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • Just a tiny bit of playfully suspenseful music occurs in one or two scenes.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 8 uses of "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "My God," "Oh God" and "God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Having lost a hand of poker, Annie is forced to jump into a lake naked, but we don't see anything (although Hallie and other kids steal her clothes).
  • Hallie, posing as Annie, asks her mother about whether designing all of the wedding gowns, "makes you think of the 'f' word..." Surprised to hear this, Elizabeth asks, "The 'f' word?" and Hallie responds "father."
  • Annie, posing as Hallie, asks Meredith, "Marriage is supposed to be based on something more than sex, right?" (after commenting that she recognizes what her father sees in Meredith).
  • Checking out the hotel that may be host to their wedding, Meredith asks Nick, "Why don't we go check out the honeymoon suite? I hear it's to die for." She kisses and caresses him and comments that they could put up the "Do not disturb" sign.
  • We see Martin in a skimpy, near Speedo-like bathing suit.
  • Nick shows Elizabeth a vintage wine and says that he believes his sister was conceived using the same.
  • SMOKING
  • Annie's grandfather has a pipe in his mouth in one scene.
  • Elizabeth smokes once.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • The twins briefly talk about growing up with only one parent, and of their parents being divorced, but not much attention is paid to that and they're not particularly upset that this happened. Instead, the two focus on getting their parents back together again.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Whether parents would really separate identical twins at birth, never let them know about each other, and never check to see how their other child was doing.
  • Identical twins.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Some camp counselors trip and fall on some cooking oil slickened floors.
  • Meredith kicks a camping coffee pot from a campfire in anger.



  • Reviewed July 26, 1998

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