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1 item from 1998

Film review: 'The Parent Trap'

27 July 1998 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

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.


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


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