2 items from 1998
While the Hayley Mills faithful will likely consider it sacrilege, Disney's update of its 1961 charmer, "The Parent Trap", emerges as the most satisfying of the studio's recent dust-offs.
Marking co-scribe Nancy Meyers' debut at the helm, the picture is a handsomely mounted, impeccably cast midsummer romantic comedy that for the most part hits all the key classic moments with respect rather than sticky reverence.
Although the two-hour-plus running time might tax smaller viewers' attention spans (granted, the original was even longer), this "Parent Trap" could very well double the going family-fare rate at the boxoffice, snaring both young girls and their nostalgic moms. And video should be, to quote from another memorable Mills outing, scathingly brilliant.
Doing double duty as spunky Northern Californian Hallie Parker and her separated-at-birth, London-bred twin Annie James, freckle-faced daytime soap veteran Lindsay Lohan is a major find, nailing her British accent and demanding eye lines with considerable finesse. Mills would likely approve.
Meanwhile, the Brian Keith and Maureen O'Hara roles have been neatly filled by dependable Dennis Quaid as Hallie's winery-owning dad and Natasha Richardson as Annie's wedding gown-designing mum. It's particularly gratifying to see the endlessly versatile Richardson demonstrate a winning but seldom seen flair for physical comedy.
Likewise, TV comedian Lisa Ann Walter ("Life's Work") shows off some sparkling line delivery as Parker family housekeeper Chessy, while busy British actor Simon Kunz ("Four Weddings and a Funeral") has some fun as the Jameses' unstuffy butler, Martin. And, in a nod to continuity, Joanna Barnes, who played the conniving Vicki Robinson in the original, returns as the mother of the current evil fiancee played by Elaine Hendrix.
Meyers and longtime writing partner Charles Shyer, who handed over the directing reins to his wife but did second-unit work here, do a nice job in lightly modernizing David Swift's original screenplay, which, in turn, was based on a German novel.
But there's an episodic feel to the material that could have been eliminated had Meyers and Shyer been able to cut it down to a more compact, contemporary length.
Behind the scenes, the production is a pleasant surprise. Rather than adhering to the usual, budget-conscious, shoot-it-in-Vancouver approach, the producers have done it up right with the help of a couple of Deans of the industry -- production designer Dean Tavoularis ("The Godfather" movies) and director of photography Dean Cundey ("Jurassic Park", "Apollo 13"), who lend the remake an unexpectedly rich luster.
Add solid visual effects, some chic contributions by costume designer Penny Rose ("Evita") and a bouncy Alan Silvestri score -- but subtract the onslaught of too cute song cues -- and "The Parent Trap" is live action Disney diversion at its breezy best.
THE PARENT TRAP
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
A Walt Disney Pictures presentation
Director: Nancy Meyers
Screenwriters: David Swift and Nancy Meyers
& Charles Shyer
Producer: Charles Shyer
Director of photography: Dean A. Cundey
Production designer: Dean Tavoularis
Editor: Stephen A. Rotter
Costume designer: Penny Rose
Music: Alan Silvestri
Visual effects supervisor: Jim Rygiel
Casting: Ilene Starger
Nick Parker: Dennis Quaid
Elizabeth James: Natasha Richardson
Hallie Parker/Annie James: Lindsay Lohan
Meredith Blake: Elaine Hendrix
Martin: Simon Kunz
Chessy: Lisa Ann Walter
Grandfather: Ronnie Stevens
Marva Kulp Sr.: Polly Holliday
Vicki: Joanna Barnes
Running time -- 124 minutes
MPAA rating: PG
Depending on how you look at it, the latest Walter Matthau-Jack Lemmon matchup could either be called "The Odd Couple II" or "Grumpy Old Men III" (or IV if you count "Out to Sea").
Even with Neil Simon's name in the title, moviegoers are in for more of the same -- and that isn't necessarily a bad thing when you've got crack comic veterans like Lemmon and Matthau casually firing off the banter with the deadly aim of professional assassins.
With director Howard Deutch ("Grumpier Old Men") adding to the reunion festivities, the picture can't escape a certain warmed-over feel, but audiences of a certain age should turn this pleasant, lightweight retread into a moderate hit for Paramount. Expect a bigger payoff when it reaches the WFV ("Wait For Video") set.
When Oscar Madison's actor son Brucey (Jonathan Silverman) calls his Sarasota, Fla.-ensconced dad from Los Angeles inviting him to his wedding, Oscar is delighted to hear the news. That is, until he's informed the father of the bride is none other than former roommate Felix Ungar.
The ensuing reunion more or less picks up where it left off three decades earlier, as Oscar and Felix embark on a disastrous road trip, with mishap after mishap threatening to prevent them from reaching the quaint little town of San Malina in time for the wedding.
As Neil's vehicles go, this stuff is fairly Simple Simon. Dusting off an unfinished script he had started in the '80s, Simon completed it last spring with the provision that Lemmon and Matthau again do the honors.
With apologies to Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, nobody can toss off lines like Lemmon or do physical shtick like Matthau. Even the slightest of bits comes off like sparkling comedic gems in the capable hands of these two Billy Wilder-weaned pros.
Given that expertise, Deutch could have afforded to employ even a lighter touch in the scene choreography. Instead, he relies a little too strongly on music cues to underscore or at times even signal the jokes. His rule of pacing appears to be, when in doubt, crank up the old "Odd Couple" theme.
Supporting players Christine Baranski and Jean Smart spice things up with their portrayal of biker chicks, on the run from their husbands, who go by the names of Thelma and, nope, Holly. And, in the picture's funniest sequence, Barnard Hughes is a hoot as a kindly professorial type who offers Felix and Oscar a lift in a vintage auto that apparently takes a very long time to warm up.
Shot primarily outdoors with a bright, sunny crispness courtesy of Jamie Anderson ("Grosse Pointe Blank"), the film has solid production values all around, although Alan Silvestri's score relies a tad too heavily on the aforementioned Neal Hefti original.
Neil Simon's THE ODD COUPLE II
A Cort/Madden production
A Howard Deutch film
Director: Howard Deutch
Producers: Neil Simon, Robert W. Cort and
Screenwriter: Neil Simon
Director of photography: Jamie Anderson
Production designer: Dan Bishop
Editor: Seth Flaum
Music: Alan Silvestri
Felix Unger: Jack Lemmon
Oscar Madison: Walter Matthau
Thelma: Christine Baranski
Beaumont: Barnard Hughes
Brucey Madison: Jonathan Silverman
Holly: Jean Smart
Hannah Ungar: Lisa Waltz
Felice: Mary Beth Peil
Blanche Madison Povitch: Doris Belack
Francis Ungar Melnick: Ellen Geer
Running time -- 97 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13
2 items from 1998
IMDb.com, Inc. takes no responsibility for the content or accuracy of the above news articles, Tweets, or blog posts. This content is published for the entertainment of our users only. The news articles, Tweets, and blog posts do not represent IMDb's opinions nor can we guarantee that the reporting therein is completely factual. Please visit the source responsible for the item in question to report any concerns you may have regarding content or accuracy.See our NewsDesk partners