Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
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One of the first VHS tapes that my family owned when I was young was the 1961 hit The Parent Trap. Starring the sweet but sassy Hayley Mills in a dual role as Sharon McKendrick and Susan Evers as a set of twins separated at birth, I have fond memories of musical numbers, charming relationships that made me laugh and broke my heart at once, and a fun - albeit very 1960s - script.
Naturally, given my affinity for the original film, I was very curious when the remake was released in 1998, starring a cute and talented red-haired young actress named Lindsay Lohan as the twins, this time known as Annie James and Hallie Parker.
In case you aren't familiar with the film, here's a brief synopsis. Two girls who seem to share the same face - Hallie, a cool California girl, and Annie, a very proper young lady who hails from London - meet at sleep-away summer camp and don't exactly hit it off. When they wind up stuck in an isolation cabin away from the other girls, they are stunned to learn that they're actually twins who were separated at birth.
Hallie is curious about her mother, Elizabeth (Natasha Richardson, Nell), a wedding gown designer, while Annie wonders about her father, Nick (Dennis Quaid, Wyatt Earp, Something to Talk About, who owns a vineyard in Napa, California. So the girls hatch a plan to switch places, and the real hyjinx begins when Annie heads to California and Hallie flies off to London.
The Parent Trap remake is okay, but to me, it just doesn't stand on the same ground as the original. First off, although Lohan was certainly cute back then and she played both roles well enough, her British accent left quite a lot to be desired. I just didn't buy that she was British. While the accent was much more believable than the bizarre quasi-British accent that high-society Bostonian Sharon McKendrick displayed in the original film, it just didn't work for me and proved itself a distraction.
Natasha Richardson is okay as the twins' mother, but doesn't hold a candle to Maureen O'Hara's original portrayal as the sweet but sharply intelligent mom who's intent on attempting to rekindle her old romance with her ex-husband. Dennis Quaid is also merely okay in his role as the twins' father, though he doesn't embody the rough around the edges qualities that made Brian Keith so great as Mitch Evers in the original.
Finally, the character of Meredith Blake (Elaine Hendrix, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion) is played effectively, and she comes off well as a gold digging younger woman in search of a fortune, but again, the performance just doesn't match up to that of Cathleen Nesbitt (An Affair to Remember). Nesbitt played the decidedly heinous child-hater Vicky Robinson in the original film. I remember palpably despising Vicky, while I found Meredith merely annoying. Making an audience truly hate you is an impressive feat.
I wish this film had retained several of the fun elements of the original, including the twins' efforts to throw their parents back together again with a romantic recreation of their first date featuring a musical number. I also wish the chemistry between the actors had been better; Quaid and Richardson's connection felt lukewarm at best. Finally, one of the funniest characters in the original film was completely omitted from this remake. Rev. Dr. Mosby (Leo Carroll, North By Northwest) played the well-meaning, truth-speaking reverand in the original film. I laugh even thinking about the way Vicky and her mother glared at him when he remarked on the charms of Mitch's ex-wife and mused - aloud - that he had a hard time understanding how he'd ever let her slip away from him. A real classic line! There's nothing even remotely as clever or quietly tittilating as this in the remake.
The Brass Tacks
I love the original Parent Trap so much that there was probably no way I'd ever fully enjoy a remake, but this one just didn't do it for me. It's not a bad movie, per se - the script is solid, Lohan is cute, and the outcome is sweetly predictable - but I ask: Why improve upon initial perfection?
The movie runs 127 minutes, and is rated PG.
My review of the original movie is located here: http://www99.epinions.com/content_425057816196
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 9 - 12