The Parent Trap review by Mike Long

When you hear the name Lindsay Lohan, what comes to mind? Cleavage? Scandals? Cleavage scandals? And yet, there was a time, about seven years ago, when controversy was the furthest thing away from the then 12-year old actress, who was wowing audiences with actual talent, not shenanigans, in the remake of The Parent Trap. Along with being notable for featuring Lohan's big-screen debut, this film also bucks the trend of crappy remakes and delivers a smart, entertaining family movie.

As The Parent Trap opens, we see a couple (Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson) getting married aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2. The movie then jumps ahead 11 years and 9 months, where the setting is tranquil Camp Walden. California girl Hallie Parker (Lindsay Lohan) and upper-crust Brit Annie James (Lohan as well) arrive at the camp for a summer of fun. After some initial misgivings about one another, the pair are placed in isolation together and soon realize that they are twins. They compare stories about their parents and grasp that their Mom (who Annie lives with) and Dad (who has raised Hallie) intended to keep them apart. Determined to meet the other parent, the girls hatch a plan to switch places -- Hallie will go to London so that she can meet her Mom and Annie will visit California in order to meet her estranged Father. Annie and Hallie think that this scheme will be a way to reunite their parents. They practice one another's mannerisms and the plan goes off without a hitch. Except for the fact that their Dad, Nick Parker (Quaid) has fallen for a young woman, Meredith (Elaine Hendrix). Annie and Hallie now feel that they must reveal their plot in order to get their Mom, Elizabeth James (Richardson) to California as soon as possible if there's any chance of putting the family back together.

To be honest, I've never seen all of the original 1961 version of The Parent Trap. The few moments of the movie that I've seen seemed very dated and cheesy, especially the "Let's Get Together" song. So, I didn't expect much from the remake, despite the surprisingly strong reviews that it received upon its initial release. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the 1998 version of The Parent Trap is an incredibly solid film which is both funny and moving. The movie is nothing astounding or earth-shaking, but teammates Charles Shyer (co-writer and producer here) and Nancy Meyers (co-writer and director) have a track-record of making entertaining films (the Father of the Bride remakes) which aren't grand-art, but leave one feeling satisfied.

Shyer and Meyers' pedigree aside, it's Lindsay Lohan who makes The Parent Trap truly work. I'm sure that there are those who see her on Entertainment Tonight or on magazine covers and ask, "What is she famous for?" Well, I can't answer that question, but I can say that Lohan's acting in The Parent Trap is excellent and for an 11-year old, she truly steals the show. When I first saw the film, I would often forget that there was just one girl playing both parts. Lohan instills individual personality traits into both Annie and Hallie, making them two distinct characters. The visual effects are incredibly well-done as well, as they allow the freedom for Lohan to play both parts on-screen at the same time. Movies with twins have been around for years, but The Parent Trap gives us one of the best on-screen portrayals of all time.

While all of these assets sound great, it's the film's heart that truly makes it succeed. The story of separated twins who live thousands of miles apart will seem alien and far-fetched to many. However, the movie places its true emphasis not on this story, but on the girl's longing to have a family, which is something that most can relate to. This theme flows throughout the film, making for many touching scenes. Along the way, there are some humorous moments as well. I'm not one to normally go around recommending "tween" movies, but The Parent Trap is a heart-warming and wholesome film which is well-worth checking out.

The Parent Trap comes to DVD courtesy of Disney DVD. The movie has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks fairly good, as it is sharp and free from overt defects from the source material. The picture is a bit soft at times, but the colors are very good. Despite some mild grain, the image is clear for the most part, although there is a smattering of trouble from edge enhancement. The DVD features a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which offers clear dialogue and music. The track shows no major problems, but nor is it especially enthusiastic. The film's music sounds fine as it pours from the speakers, but there are only momentary examples of surround sound and very little in the way of subwoofer effects.

This is Disney's second DVD release of this film. The first DVD did not have an anamorphic widescreen transfer and there were no extra features, despite the fact that an extras-laden laserdisc had been released in the past. This new DVD release remedies that problem, as it contains several extras. We start with an audio commentary from Shyer, Meyers, and director of photography Dean Cundey (yes, the man who shot Halloween!). This is a nice chat, as the trio discuss the making of film accenting Lohan's performance, the locations, and challenge of having one person play two roles. "Updating a Classic" (19 minutes) is a making-of featurette with lots of behind-the-scenes footage, although given the press that they've received in recent years, it's odd to see Lohan's parents on the set. "The Accent on Fun" (4 minutes) is essentially an interview with two dialect coaches which has little to do with the film. The visual effects of the film are explored in "How Hallie Became Annie" (8 minutes), where we see how green-screen was utilized and that Lohan wore an earpiece in order to act with herself. Finally, we have a 3 minute deleted scene with optional commentary by Meyers and Shyer.

7 out of 10 Jackasses

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