Saturday, January 28, 2017

Seeing Double

The Parent Trap (1961)
Director: David Swift
Cast: Hayley Mills, Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith, Joanna Barnes
Released: June 21, 1961

Oscar nominations:

Best Sound (lost to West Side Story)
Best Film Editing (lost to West Side Story)

The Parent Trap (1998)
Director: Nancy Meyers
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Dennis Quaid, Natasha Richardson, Elaine Hendrix
Released: July 29, 1998

I am doing a double movie review feature which is perfect because these movies feature twins! Ah, yes, The Parent Trap. Everyone knows this movie. It's a classic. If you really think about it, it's a bit of a f***ed up movie. A couple meets, falls in loves, gets married, has twin girls, then gets divorced soon after. That's actually all normal, but it's the fact that each parent takes a twin and live on opposite sides of the country (or, in the remake's case, different continents) and neither girl has no idea that the other one even exists! Also, I'm pretty sure that's not how custody works. I don't think the parents can just choose which child they want to keep as their own! 

The '98 movie follows the original pretty closely with only a few updated changes. So much so that both movies are pretty much the same length. Hayley Mills plays Sharon McKendrick and Susan Evers and Lindsay Lohan plays Annie James and Hallie Parker. Now I know that Hayley Mills was a popular child/teen actress of the early '60s, but to me, she'll always be Miss Bliss from Saved By the Bell! This was Lindsay Lohan's first movie and before she became a tabloid favorite, she was a pretty cute little eleven year old and it's impressive that her first movie was playing two characters who both have very different personalities and mannerisms. They could have easily cast the Olsen twins (who are the same age as Lohan), but I like that the movie cast only one actress as the original did. I felt like it would be cheating if they had cast real twins! I had always just assumed they named one of the Lohan twins "Hallie" as a homage to Hayley Mills (Hayley, Hallie, they sound close enough), but reading through the IMDb trivia section, I found out that the Lohan twins were named after the director's daughters.
Besides the names, the ages are also different. The Mills twins are thirteen and the Lohan twins are eleven. Both movies start with the girls going to the same summer camp. (Seriously, what are the odds of that; especially when they don't even live in the same town and the camp isn't even in the same area where they live?) I guess when they were making movies in the '60s, they didn't know how to build suspense because the very first moment Susan and Sharon are in the same room, they see each other. This happens the first night at camp when they're in line for dinner at the mess hall and both reach for something and see each other and give each other a look of surprise. At least in the remake, they milk it a bit before the twins discover each other. Like the original, there's a scene where they're both reaching for something while in line for dinner, but they don't see each other because the camp counselor is between them. They finally see each other for the first time after they've had a fencing duel and take off their masks and also gasp in surprise at their similarities. For some reason, both sets of twins take an immediate disliking to each other (with one twin insulting the other's, hello, you look exactly the same!) and a prank war ensues. This results with the girls being sent to the Isolation Cabin.  This is when they start to learn peculiar things about each other. One girl grew up with her father and never knew her mother (Susan and Hallie) and the other girl grew up with her mother and never knew her father (Sharon and Annie). They also find out they have the same birthday and will be turning the same age! And they look exactly alike! What are the odds of that?

It's the twin of the mother who realizes that something is up and has a realization that they just may be related. (Duh, no kidding!) In the original, Susan tells Sharon she's seen a photo of her mom and Sharon shows her a huge framed photo of her mom (seriously, who would bring something like that to a camp?) to which Susan asks what she's doing with a picture of HER mother and Sharon says that it's HER mother. In the remake, both girls have a torn photo, ripped down the middle of the parent they didn't grow up with. They reveal the photos and realize it makes a whole and the other girl recognizes the parent they did grow up with. "That's my mum!" "That's my dad!"

It's the idea of the twin who grew up with her father for them to switch places when they leave camp, so that way, their parents (who have never gotten remarried to other people), will have to unswitch them and will therefore meet and fall in love again. To do this, they cut the the hair of the twin with the longer locks and in the remake, they pierce the ears of the twin who doesn't have them. They also tell each other about their lives at home and the people in their everyday lives, like Sharon's/Annie's grandfather and butler and Susan's maid/Hallie's nanny.

In both movies, the twin of the father is from Carmel, California, but in the original, the twin of the mother lives in Boston while in the remake, they make her from London. Actually, while watching the original, I was a little surprised when I found out she was from Boston because she sounded more British than Bostonian; she certainly didn't sound like the people from movies and TV who are from Boston! Then I realized the "other" twin also sounded a little British and realized Hayley Mills just didn't quite get rid of her British accent as she's British in real life.

So Susan travels to Boston as "Sharon" where she meets her mother, Maggie McKendrick (Maureen O'Hara) and Hallie travels to London as "Annie" where she meets her mother, Elizabeth James (Natasha Richardson). I love that the twins are blonde and have a redheaded mother in the original and in the remake the twins are redheads and have a blonde mother. While riding in the car to her mother's home, Hallie is looking out the window and gawking at all the famous London sites. Girl, compose yourself! Remember, you're a native! The mothers in both movies are very beautiful, proper, and refined and the twins who finally get to meet her are just so enamored with her. Elizabeth is a famous wedding gown designer and takes her daughter to a photo shoot. I don't think they ever tell us what Maggie does.

Sharon travels to California as "Susan" where she meets her dad, Mitch Evers (Brian Keith) and
Annie travels to California as "Hallie" where she meets her dad, Nick Parker (Dennis Quaid). It was a little creepy in the original because when Susan was describing her dad to Sharon, she used words like "dreamy" and "sensational". Okay, let's calm down, it sounds like you have a crush on your dad! (Eww!) Luckily, they don't go that route in the remake. (I should hope not!) The fathers in both movies are rich, handsome, rugged-outdoors men and the twins who finally get to meet him are just so enamored with them. But not to the point of creepiness. The only girl who has a crush on her father in these movies is Susan! Like the mothers in both movies, both of the fathers live in large, gorgeous houses, so it's not like neither sets of twins were destitute. Both sets were living pretty great lives, but they just want to make their lives even better! Who can blame them? In both movies, Sharon and Annie, posing as the other twin, are confronted by Susan's and Hallie's confused dog who barks at them.

Unfortunately there is a little hiccup in Operation: Get Parents Back Together when Sharon/Annie discovers their father has a girlfriend - a MUCH younger girlfriend, which he plans to marry. Mitch is planning to marry Vicky (Joanna Barnes) and Nick is planning to marry Meredith (Elaine Hendrix). Joanna Barnes plays the mother of Meredith in the remake, so that's pretty cool. There's a funny moment in the remake where Nick is about to tell "Hallie" he's going to marry Meredith, but Annie interrupts him and says how she's so excited to have a big sister since he's obviously going to adopt her. Who would adopt a twenty-six year old? It's so ridiculous, but funny.

Sharon and Annie call their sisters to reveal the bad news. Susan gets a telegram from Western Union delivered from Sharon that says "Alexander Graham 3 AM important" and her mother and grandparents can't crack the code. Please. It's so obvious that she's suppose to call her "friend" (who she says it's from) at three in the morning.

Both sets of twins get caught before they reveal who they really are. Susan and Hallie get caught by Sharon's and Annie's grandfather (I guess technically, he is their grandfather too) after they've gotten off the phone with the other twin. He makes her tell the truth to his daughter. Susan is a total brat when she reveals who she really is to her mother and grandmother because she's whining how Sharon is back in California "riding my horse and having a keen time while I'm stuck here with these lousy music lessons and I hate them." Sharon is caught by the Evers's maid, Verbena and Annie is discovered by Hallie's nanny, Chessy, when both women become suspicious of the dog acting different towards the girls and their change of appetites.

By now the only person who doesn't know they've switched places is their father. Susan/Hallie and their mothers fly to California to switch places and hopefully stop their dad's marriage to a floozy and rekindle a romance between their parents. In both movies they do the old joke where the dad sees one twin, then, a minute later, sees the other twin and he's confused as to how she just popped up again so soon and she's wearing different clothes. There's a totally cringe-worthy moment in the original where Maggie takes a shower at the house while Mitch is out on his horse and when he comes back, there's a bra hanging on the shower door and he thinks it belongs to his thirteen-year-old daughter (which it obviously doesn't). Again, luckily, they take this out of the remake. When Mitch/Nick sees their ex-wife, they are shocked. So shocked, in fact, they fall into a lake/pool. In the original, when Mitch and Maggie are reunited, they start fighting and SCREAMING at each other. Now I can see why they got divorced! They're a lot more civil to each other in the remake. This is when the twins show up and explain to their father they've switched places this whole time. Both sets of twins guilt trip their parents into saying how they've grown up this whole time without a mother/father and beg their father not to marry Vicky/Meredith.

The twins set up a date for their parents that matches the very first date they ever had. This is when the Mills twins sing "Let's Get Together". The Lohan twins don't serenade their parents, but there is a scene earlier in the movie when one of those twins is humming it. However, the romantic dates don't quite work because the mother plans to fly back home with her daughter (the right twin this time). The twins play a trick on their parents by dressing exactly the same and not revealing who is who, therefore confusing their parents. They tell them they both want to go on the camping trip their dad has planned with the whole family. After they return, they will tell them who is who. Plans change and Vicky/Meredith end up going on the camping trip instead of Maggie/Elizabeth. This gives Susan and Sharon and Hallie and Annie the perfect opportunity to terrorize their almost stepmother-to-be. The remake keeps most of the same pranks as the original such as the girls putting a little lizard on the gold digger's water bottle, telling her to clap two sticks together to keep the mountain lions away, and putting water and sugar in her bug spray. The final, biggest prank is the one that's different. In the remake, they drag Meredith out from her tent on her inflatable bed while she's sleeping and float her out on the lake. I'm surprised she didn't roll into the water. She doesn't fall into the lake until the next morning when she wakes up and is standing up and screaming. Well, of course, you're going to fall into the water if you stand up on an inflatable bed! While I would have been pretty furious if someone did that to me, I would have much rather have that prank played on me than the one Susan and Sharon play on Vicky. These girls pretty much try to have this woman murdered when they put honey on her toes and leave a trail of it so when she wakes up, two bear cubs are licking at her feet. Understandably, she starts screaming and freaking out as any normal person would in that situation. Some guy (I guess the ranch hand) says, "Those are itty bitty bears! They wouldn't hurt a fly!" like it's no big deal. WHAT?!? Sure, those bear cubs may not do any damage, but Mama Bear ain't gonna be too happy! They must not have known about bear safety in the '60s, maybe? They seemed pretty laid back about two bear cubs visiting their camp. Even if they hadn't enticed the bears with honey, they still would have had them as visitors what with all the food they just left out on the tables! Susan and Sharon are just lying in their sleeping bags and I really wanted to smack them. I did not like them after that incident. Don't get me wrong: Annie and Hallie are plenty bratty to Meredith, but they never put her in a dangerous situation where she would have been mauled by a bear! Good God, movie! In the original, Vicky is furious and just leaves and in the remake Meredith is also furious and gives Nick an ultimate: them or her. Of course, he's going to choose his own children over a woman he's only known for a couple of months.

Of course, in both movies, both sets of parents realize they're still in love with each other and reunite. These are Disney movies, after all, of course they're going to have happy endings! I'm not sure where they ended up living, though. I found the original to be more realistic from the fact that the parents really seemed to hate each other so it's easy to see why they got divorced! They were just screaming and snipping at each other quite a bit! I'm not quite sure what was going on there. The parents in the remake seemed to like each other a lot more, but it is revealed they got married pretty quickly so maybe they thought that was a bad idea and that's why they got divorced? I do like the remake better because it came out when I was alive, for one thing, so I am more familiar with it. The original was still good, but there were a few parts that seemed to drag on. There are also a few questionable things in the original that I already mentioned and I did find those sets of twins to be more bratty than the twins in the remake. But Hayley Mills is much more iconic than Lindsay Lohan!

1 comment:

  1. Good article..I'll take the original any day....and I gew up with that.