The Parent Trap: Disney Classic Is 25 Years Old

Lindsay Lohan in the Parent Trap. Courtesy of Disney.

Disney’s The Parent Trap, which introduced Lindsay Lohan to a larger audience, recently marked the 25th anniversary of its 1998 release.

The film’s cold open shows shows the first meeting between Nicholas “Nick” Parker (Dennis Quaid) and Elizabeth James (Natasha Richardson). They later get married. Cut to 11 years and 9 months later, their twin daughters, Hallie Parker (Lindsay Lohan) and Annie James (Lindsay Lohan), meet at Camp Walden. It’s merely a freakish coincidence that both parents sent their children off to the same camp at the same time. Hallie and Annie form a rivalry–not knowing that they’re twin sisters. It’s only after they get to know each other in isolation that they realize the truth. At this point, Hallie and Annie decide to switch places with each other with the hope Nick and Elizabeth will fall in love again. Easier said than done but stranger things have happened, of course.

Getting their parents back together doesn’t come easy when Annie–as Hallie–learns that Nick wants to marry Cruella, er, Meredith Blake (Elaine Hendrix). Interestingly, Nick and Elizabeth are the last people to realize that their daughters have switched places. Chessy (Lisa Ann Walter), Martin (Simon Kunz), and Grandfather (Ronnie Stevens) find out first. It’s an emotional moment for both parents when they learn the other daughter has been staying with them. Annie and Hallie’s plan is in full force as Elizabeth, Hallie, and Martin head for California. The kids have a plan to recreate the night their parents met. Meanwhile, Meredith wants Elizabeth to design her wedding dress, not realizing that Elizabeth is Nick’s ex-wife. The look on her face is priceless.

It’s a charming film although a two-hour run time is asking a lot of its audience. For what it’s worth, the film never loses our attention and includes some funny gags as Annie and Hallie essentially declare war on Meredith during the camping trip. Funny enough, the 128-minute run time is the exact same length as the 1961 film.

The original 1961 film received three sequels. I’ve always wondered why this one never got a sequel. The box office earned nearly $100 against a $15 million production budget! Lohan’s star started to rise shortly thereafter but alas, a sequel was never meant to be. It’s probably unlikely that Disney revisits the 1998 film but if they do, they’d have to write Natasha Richardson’s tragic death into the film. Watching this film is a reminder of the talent that was lost as a result of her 2009 skiing accident.

Dean Cundey does a superb job with the cinematography. Meanwhile, the special effects team brings their A game. Don’t forget that they were filming this at a time when visual effects was not quite what it is today. It’s a lot easier now having one person portraying two different people on screen. But back then? Not so much. One must wonder why the visual effects team does not have an Oscar nomination for their work. Also, why is the scene with the late Queen Elizabeth II not in the film? The deleted scene is included on Disney+. Let me tell you–I was laughing up a storm. It’s a hysterical scene so I am glad that audiences get to watch but it should be in the film.

Lindsay Lohan’s breakout role in The Parent Trap isn’t a fluke as the actress went onto shine in more films such as Freaky Friday and Mean Girls. Twenty-five years later, The Parent Trap still offers its audience a good time.

DIRECTOR: Nancy Meyers
SCREENWRITERS: David Swift and Nancy Meyers & Charles Shyer
CAST: Dennis Quaid, Natasha Richardson, Lisa Ann Walter, Elaine Hendrix, Simon Kunz, Ronnie Stevens, Polly Holliday, and introducing Lindsay Lohan

Disney released The Parent Trap in theaters on July 29, 1998. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.