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What do you get when you take a German book originally written as a movie scenario inspired by a movie and make a movie of it? You get a film franchise that includes one megahit film, three TV sequels, and a 90’s remake starring Lindsay Lohan.
Let’s take a look at the film that started it all! Here’s The Parent Trap!
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
The film opens up to a stop-motion piece of animation that summarizes the basic plot of the movie with a title song sung by Tommy Sands and Annette Funicello.
It’s interesting to note that this is the first Disney film that the Sherman Brothers worked on and it shows. The movie only has 3 songs and in my opinion, they’re extremely sub-par to what we know the Sherman Brothers can produce. Then again, we all have to start from somewhere and build ourselves up!
After the opening sequence, we see a girls’ camp and focus in on two girls, Susan and Sharon, both played by Hayley Mills. The reason why the two are focused on is that they seem to be lookalikes!
They both accuse the other of looking like her, and immediately dislike each other. One of them sabotages the other’s cabin
and the other gets revenge by cutting the other’s dress.
In the end, the woman in charge decides to punish the two by putting them together in a cabin where they’ll be forced to talk and get along. And after a wind blows through one of the windows and they work together to close it, they instantly become friends and bury the hatchet.
They start talking and learn interesting things about each other. Besides looking alike, they also share the same birthday and also one has a mother, but no father, and the other, vice-versa. They quickly deduce that they’re actually twin sisters! Apparently, their parents separated/divorced when they were babies and the mother took one of them and moved to Boston while the father moved to California with the other.
Both girls long to meet the other parent and devise a plan to switch places! They take turns teaching each other about each other’s lives so that they can successfully get away with their plan and not be caught. They even decide to take the plan further! They realize that their parents have never remarried and deduce that they may still have love for each other, so the girls hope that they can get their parents to meet again and remarry.
When the camp ends, Susan goes to Boston as Sharon and comes face-to-face with her mother, Maggie, played by Maureen O’Hara. Maggie doesn’t suspect anything despite the fact that Sharon seems a bit more emotional and happier to see her than usual. Nevertheless, they hit it off well.
Meanwhile Sharon who’s gone to California as Susan comes face-to-face with her father, Mitch, played by Brian Keith. And pretty much the same thing happens: Mitch doesn’t suspect anything and Sharon is more emotional and happier to see him.
She loves seeing him and loves the big ranch that he owns, but then a stranger shows up at the ranch: a young woman named Vicky, played by Joanna Barnes. Apparently, while his daughter was away at camp, Mitch was enjoying a romance with this young woman and seems to be inclined to marry her. Sharon is shocked at this turn of events, especially after realizing that Vicky’s only marrying her father for his money.
Later that night, Sharon makes a long-distance phone call to Susan and inform her of the goings-on. They plan that Susan should try her best to get their mom to California before Mitch can remarry while Sharon should try to break up Mitch and Vicky’s “romance”.
While that’s going on, it’s not long before the kids’ secret is found out. Sharon is soon discovered to be Susan by her grandfather, played by Charles Ruggles.
He then convinces her to reveal her secret to her mother, who reacts extremely happily as one can imagine! But now that the secret is out, Maggie has to go to California in order to switch Susan with Sharon, since she’s only legally allowed to have Sharon.
Maggie and Susan make a surprise trip to California right when Mitch has Vicky over and as you can imagine, the next 15-20 minutes are hilarious to see as they’re filled with mistaken identities, clumsiness, and tensions between Vicky and Maggie that are so thick that you can cut through them with a knife!
In the end, Vicky is upset that Mitch’s ex is staying over, Mitch is astonished to realize that he’s had the wrong girl the whole time and is surprised/annoyed to see Maggie, and when Vicky heads home for the day, Mitch and Maggie try to sort everything out in regards to the girls.
Meanwhile the girls continue trying to do everything to get their parents back together including recreating their parents’ first date
and refusing to tell the parents which of them is who.
The final straw to this predicament is planted when Mitch takes the girls and Vicky on a camping trip and the girls pull all kinds of pranks on Vicky (much alike the ones they did to each other at their camp) so much so that Vicky gets infuriated and runs away while calling off the wedding.
With Vicky out of the picture, Mitch and Maggie realize their love for each other, remarry, keep both kids, and live together happily ever after!
And that’s The Parent Trap and it’s simply great! The writing/story is just so creative and clever that it keeps you entertained throughout the entire movie! The characters are likable and easy to relate to and the actors are really good, especially Hayley Mills. You honestly feel that there are twins playing the role and it’s not just her playing two roles! She deserves to be commended for that!
The only major problem that I have with the movie is the sub-par music like I’ve said before. But I can’t be too harsh on the Sherman Brothers as this WAS their first Disney movie that they worked on and the film isn’t really supposed to be a musical.
Nevertheless, this is a film that everybody should see at least once in their lives…more than once, preferably!
(You can click on the image below for an enlarged version of my rating sheet.)
So, the final score for this film is 29/35 = 82.86% (B-) !
The next review will be posted on August 18th.