Weekly Watch: ‘The Parent Trap’
Allie Tollaksen | Tuesday, September 30, 2014
When it comes to watching and discussing important films, a 1998 kid’s comedy isn’t exactly the first movie that should come to mind. But here I am, trying to convince you to tune into Netflix this week to watch “The Parent Trap” for this edition of Weekly Watch.
I’m not making any claims that “The Parent Trap” was robbed of any awards, and it certainly saw plenty of success in the box office (it reached #2 the week it debuted, according to the International Movie Database), but I will argue that it’s a criminally under-appreciated movie across all audiences.
Ask any 20-25 year-old woman about “The Parent Trap,” and it’s likely she will tell you her memories of seeing the movie in theaters with her friends, sisters and mom. Her face might light up, recounting her favorite parts of the film, which Lohan “twin” was her favorite or how she practiced her British accent after seeing the movie. But there’s much, much more than nostalgia at play when I, like many others my age, look back fondly at the film. I sincerely and honestly insist that the Lindsay Lohan version of “The Parent Trap” was a nearly flawless children’s comedy, and it remains genuinely entertaining and adorably charming to this day.
Released in July of 1998, “The Parent Trap” had a cast fairly evenly split between recognizable names (Dennis Quaid, Natasha Richardson) and relatively unknown actors like Lisa Ann Walter and, remarkably, Lindsay Lohan in her first motion picture role. At only 11-years-old, Lohan made her big-screen debut playing not just one character, but two, acting both parts in the remake of the 1961 original about twins separated at birth who try to reunite their divorced parents.
It’s hard to think of “Parent Trap”-era Lindsay Lohan now, after the actress’ recent scandals, arrests and movie flops, but there once was a time when fans of her first film had a difficult time believing she wasn’t a twin. Truly — little Lohan does a remarkable job in both roles, and it shows when watching the movie even today.
But Lohan was just one small part of what made the film great. The casting choices for Lohan’s parents were spot-on, with Quaid as the quintessential cool late-90s dad and Natasha Richardson as the stylish, British mom every girl wanted. Supporting characters and the plot’s impressively rapid action — separated at birth twins go from strangers to enemies to tight-knit, matchmaking sisters in under two hours — all add to this absurd but deceivingly brilliant film.
While the story of “The Parent Trap” was obviously nothing new (it was a remake, after all), its writing, cast and movement make it transcend the 1961 original and stand head and shoulders above most live-action Disney films. The movie is smart, sweet and, most importantly, deliciously entertaining, and it deserves a closer look at what makes a generation of moviegoers look so fondly back at this movie of their childhood.