The Parent Trap

The Parent Trap


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Why do romantic comedies have to be so phony? Is romance phony? Is that the message?

Dennis Quaid is a perfect dad. Natasha Richardson is the best-ever mum. They married in a rush, had twins, Hallie and Annie, and then broke up. Quaid kept Hallie. Richardson took Annie. Neither girl knows of the other's existence. Quaid never talks about mum and Richardson never mentions dad. Whatever caused the rift, it must have been awesome. No contact. Finito!

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Typical of Hollywood veneer, both parents are highly attractive and spoilt rich. Quaid lives in a Tuscan villa on a Californian vinery in Napa valley with a nanny/cook/housekeeper (supa nice). Richardson lives in a London townhouse, a stone's throw from Harrods, with a butler (sweetie pie), and designs wedding dresses for high society. She has never looked at another man. He has never looked at another woman - looked, but never lingered. Until now. A 26-year-old blonde publicist, called Meredith (Elaine Hendrix), with magazine chic and an eye on his millions, has conducted such a professional seduction job, he's hearing wedding bells.

Hallie and Annie bump into each other at summer camp. After their initial surprise at finding themselves identical, they become rivals. And then friends. Finally, they work out who they really are and decide to swap places, so that Hallie can meet mum and Annie dad. Also, they plot to bring them back together again, as well as do something permanent about Meredith.

There is plenty of scope for humour, which is handled dexterously by Lindsay Lohan, who plays both the 11-year-old twins so well, you cannot believe there isn't two of her. Nancy Meyers belongs to a slapstick school of jolly japes. The camp sequence, which fills the first third of an overlong film, is stuffed with Home Alone style tricks that would take an engineer weeks to prepare. In addition, the sentiment goes into free fall and never completely pulls out.

Quaid and Richardson are wasted. They do what they do with style and panache, but are capable of so much more. The future-bride-from-hell sub plot is clunky with cliché. Hendrix goes through the motions, not believing a word of it. Lohan is the star. She has the personality and talent for far, far better things.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Twins separated while babies meet up years later and plot to reunite their mum and dad.
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Director: Nancy Meyers

Writer: David Swift, Nancy Meyers, Charles Shyer

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Natasha Richardson, Lindsay Lohan, Elaine Hendrix, Lisa Ann Walter, Simon Kunz

Year: 1998

Runtime: 125 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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