The Parent Trap (1998)


(If this is your first time on this blog, I ask you to read my About page first! You can find a link to it at the top left-hand corner of this blog. Thanks!)

Well, I’ve already reviewed the 1961 Disney film, The Parent Trap. Now, it’s time to fulfill the request of many of my readers (oscarstainton, in particular), and review the 1998 remake. Is it as good as the original? Is it better? Is it worse? Let’s find out!

(As the plot is pretty much the same as the original film, I’m not going to go that much deeply into it or its source material. So, if you want to know more about that, please read my review of the 1961 film. Thanks!)

And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!

As the opening credits roll, we see glimpses of a memorable date between two people aboard a ship. The man is Nick Parker, played by Dennis Quaid, and the woman is Liz James, played by the late Natasha Richardson. They seem to love each other very much and are just enjoying themselves overall.

Staring Contest!
Staring Contest! I think Nick’s about to blink!

We then skip to 11 years later at a girls’ camp where we’re introduced to twins Annie and Hallie, both played superbly by Lindsay Lohan. The thing is that they don’t know they’re twins. They’re two totally different girls with two totally different personalities who come from two totally different places. One is proper and British while the other is more laid-back and Californian. Nevertheless, the audience can tell that these two are twins even if they might not know (or accept it) themselves.

This staring contest seems to be much more mean-spirited!
This staring contest seems to be much more mean-spirited!

They dislike each other from the start which leads them to playing multiple pranks on each other. One of the pranks ends up going too far

That's putting it mildly, to be honest!
That’s putting it mildly, to be honest!

and the girls are punished to stay together in a sort of solitary confinement cabin.

While together in the cabin, they’re forced to talk with each other and soon lessen their dislike of one another. They start to bond and become friendly and discover that they are indeed twins! When their parents had them, the parents divorced leaving one of them to keep one of the girls and the other to keep the other one. And as well know by now, the parents are those two we saw in the beginning of the film.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, is a split picture worth 500 words? Or is it worth 2000 words since it's technically two pictures now? And if it keeps ripping, do the words keep doubling and doubling until its limit reaches to infinity? The mind wonders!
If a picture is worth a thousand words, is a split picture worth 500 words? Or is it worth 2000 words since it’s technically two pictures now? And if it keeps ripping, do the words keep doubling and doubling until its limit reaches to infinity? The mind wonders!

They’re happy to find each other, but also yearning to meet the other parent whom they’ve never met before in their lives. This leads them to concocting a plan to switch places. Annie will take the place of Hallie and vice-versa so that each can experience the love of the other parent. And when they finally tell the truth, the parents would be forced to swap them back by meeting face-to-face. If that happens, maybe their parents will get back together again? It’s worth a shot anyway.

They soon start taking part in the most hardcore method acting training possible by coaching each other on how to be the other one and what to expect at the other one’s home, etc.

I wonder if Robert DeNiro ever went this far to play a role?
Some measures taken were drastic indeed! I wonder if Robert DeNiro ever went this far to play a role?

Soon, it’s time for everyone to go back home and Annie and Hallie do their switch hoping for everything to go alright. Thankfully, everything does go alright. One of them gets to see her mother for the first time, the other gets to meet her father for the first time, all’s well!

I’m not gonna cry! I’m not gonna cry!
I'm not gonna cry! I'm not gonna cry!
I’m not gonna cry! I’m not gonna cry!

What could possibly go wrong?

"Hello, dearies!"
“Hello, dearies!”

You see, Nick Parker has since come into contact with a young publicist named Meredith Blake, played by Elaine Hendrix. While Hallie/Annie (I’ve forgotten by now who was who) was away at camp, this love affair blossomed and now Nick is looking to marry Meredith. Meredith can’t wait to get married either, but she’s more in love with his money than with him.

The twins talk on the phone to each other about this development, at first thinking it’s just an infatuation. But, when they realize that this marriage may go through, then their chances of getting their parents together again will be ruined. So, they speed up their battle plan. The twin in England reveals to her mother the truth about who she is and lies to her saying that Nick can’t wait to see Liz again for the switch. Liz is still flattered by the idea of Nick liking her and together, they go to California where they’re supposed to meet Nick at a hotel.

Meanwhile, Nick is at the hotel with Meredith and his twin, totally unaware that Liz will be there. When the two meet, they are both shocked: Nick shocked to see Liz and Liz shocked to see Nick shocked! Pretty soon, the whole story is revealed and everyone learns about the twins, including Meredith, who can’t really stand one of them, much less two of them!

"Egads, the evil creation has duplicated itself!"
“Egads, the evil creation has duplicated itself!”

Anyway, the girls decide to do something to get their parents back together and plan a surprise date for them aboard a ship recreating the night when the picture was taken. The parents appreciate and enjoy the night, but don’t get back together.

The girls try one last thing: It’s about time for Liz to go back to England with her legal daughter, but the twins won’t tell her or their dad which one is which. They want their dad to take them on a camping trip with their mom and only after that will they reveal their identity. Nick acquiesces to this, but Liz drops out of the plans and Meredith finds her way involved in this camping trip. The twins use this as an advantage to get Meredith out of the picture by just causing her as much suffering as possible. Finally tired of the two of them, she gives Nick an ultimatum: either her or the twins. Of course, Nick chooses the twins. Meredith storms off and the twins are happy to have broken that marriage.

"This isn't over yet, Parker! We shall meet again! In another place! In another time! In another sequel!"
“This isn’t over yet, Parker! We shall meet again! In another place! In another time! In another sequel!”

Sadly though, their parents are still not getting back together and the girls admit defeat. One of them heads back to England with Liz. When they arrive in England, they see Nick already there with the other twin. They didn’t want to lose their loved ones again and took a Concorde flight to get to England first.

Concorde: Uniting People Since 1976!
Concorde: Uniting People Since 1976!

Nick and Liz end up remarrying and the girls are happy to have their family united once again! 

And that was The Parent Trap, and honestly, it’s just as good as the original film! It does a great job paying homage and respect to the original film while still maintaining its own particular style. The acting is wonderful, especially that of Lindsay Lohan playing double roles. Elaine Hendrix was also excellent as Meredith, the woman I honestly feel sorry for in the film.

Don't worry, Meredith! I would have totally married you! Yes, you might have been after my money, but I don't think you'd have poisoned my tea to get it!
Don’t worry, Meredith! I would have totally married you! Yes, you might have been after my money, but I don’t think you’d have poisoned my tea to get it!

Even the side characters are enjoyable and that’s the best way to describe the film: enjoyable. The film is an overall enjoyment and one that I highly recommend you watch, especially if you’ve seen the original.

(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 March 21st.

14 thoughts on “The Parent Trap (1998)

  1. Great point about how it keeps its own style, yet still honors the original! I have such incredibly fond memories of this one, but I’m afraid to watch it again – my mom used to cry every time Hallie met her mother for the first time and after my own mom passed away, I haven’t dared watch it again. It would make me cry too much. But it will always have a special place in my heart. Your review reminded me of my mom…in a good way. Thanks!

    1. Yeah, I thought Inside Out was the only movie to make me cry until I saw this again and remembered, “Oh yeah, these reunion scenes are murder!”.

      And glad I could get you to remember your mother 🙂 !

      Speaking of mothers, this Dr. Seuss Grinch “mother” song also gets me to tear up quite a bit. It starts around 1:08.

  2. I always had mixed feelings towards the parent trap movies. On the one hand I hate that Disney took a story about the impact feuding parents have on the emotional well-being of their children, as well as contrasting material poverty with emotional poverty and turned it into a silly mostly meaningless comedy. On the other hand – I really like the remake. It is a little bit funnier than the original (especially the butler…I laugh every time when he tells the mother that she wear the little black dress), the effects are better (for the longest time I thought the characters were actually played by twins), and it does a better job to add a few emotional scenes into it.

    The original story is still better….

  3. I really like this movie! Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson have such great chemistry. RIP Natasha Richardson. I just find the whole thing charming and I totally relate to Meredith (and Vicki in the original) because I hate camping. I could totally be submarined by mischievous girls. I am very fond of both new and old versions.

    1. No one here has mentioned that Meredith’s mom was…Vicky! She was again played by Joanna Barnes, and her name was Vicky. She apparently found another rich man (who seemed pretty mild-mannered) and raised another bratty, gold-digging daughter.
      She just had 1 scene in this film, but I’ll bet she was glad not to be suffering through another miserable camping trip.

  4. I appreciated that reference! 😉

    Overall, this was a nice and enjoyable review; after reading it I actually felt sorry for this Meredith character! I wasn’t at all sure whether to pursue the original “Parent Trap” or the remake, especially since I do have a partiality to films from the 90s. But it looks like I could pick the original or the remake and be just as entertained with either one, which is a plus.

    It’s also piqued my curiosity since I’ve never actually seen Lindsay Lohan in anything, never mind her earliest films. From what little I’ve seen of her performance on YouTube, it’s actually pretty good.

    1. No problem!

      Oh, I thought you had seen these films before. But yeah, any of the adaptations is enjoyable. I’d probably recommend the original first because I’m a big fan of watching original movies before their remakes, but it really doesn’t matter. It’s pretty much the same story.

  5. I actually saw this version before I saw the 1961 original (and I only saw the first one once, may I just add), and I actually think it improves on its predecessor, mainly in terms of casting (despite the path that her career eventually took, Lindsay Lohan was just a hoot and a half in this film) and upping the humor.

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