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IN SHORT: Surprisingly pleasant.
Don't think too much about the totally implausible behind the scenes set up to The Parent Trap, and you may find yourself having a surprisingly pleasant time.
Based on a prehistoric film starring Haley Mills, which Cranky wouldn't compare it to even if he could remember it, the 90s version of The Parent Trap stands as a mercifully Olson sisters free Olson sisters type flick. Then again, Cranky is old enough to be a parent to any of the 14 or 15-year old girls that he found himself sitting amidst at the preview screening. These kids like Hanson, too, so my ears were wide open and I asked a lot of questions when the flick was over.
The premise is quite simple: Back in a much simpler time, 1986 to be precise, an American man and a British woman met, fell in love and got married on the titanic ocean liner called QE2. Faster than you can say "I've seen this, the ship sinks...." the pair produce identical twins, divorce, and put ten thousand or so miles between themselves and their respective daughters, who have never met.
It's the kind of story Hard Copy or Dateline would like to sink it's teeth into, but we're living in Fantasyland here so, eleven years later, Annie and Hallie (both played by Lindsay Lohan) wind up at the same summer camp, with only different hair lengths, pierced ears and an English accent to separate their identities. They, of course, immediately detest each other. Teen pranks follow yada yada yada until all is well. Then, just as in every other film that's mined the "story about twins" motherload to death, the girls swap places to get Ma and Pa back together again.
Cranky should have been ripping little paper dolls out of the press notes by this point, but he found himself actually enjoying himself.
Ma (Natasha Richardson) designs wedding gowns. Meredith Blake (Elaine Hendrix) wants Ma to design her gown, 'cuz she's going to marry Pa (Dennis Quaid), send the kid to boarding school and steal Pa's millions. This leaves it up to the girls, with the help of all-knowing lackeys Martin the butler (Simon Kunz) and Chessy the way too young to be acting like a Jewish grandmother type (Lisa Ann Walter) to help the girls with their nefarious plans. It's good that both parents are filthy rich, lackeys are fun.
The Parent Trap is so lightweight that Cranky walked in expecting to stamp it with a "$3" (for rental) and head on off to the next screening. The strange thing is, this flick was actually kind of cute. There's no thrill in the wizardry of having one actor do multiple roles simultaneously anymore, but the gags in the script provide a pretty consistent set of chuckles once the scheme is set in motion. The opening summer camp sequence is painful to anyone over the age of sixteen or so, and would definitely thrill my eight-year old niece. By the time it's all over, some characters will vanish without a trace and everything else comes out nice and tidy, just like you knew it would.
I had half a dozen fifteen year old girls sitting behind me and, left to right: "liked it, liked it, liked it, liked it, liked it, and liked it."
And that's who the flick is for, and that's good enough for Cranky.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Parent Trap, he would have paid . . .
Shame on DP Dean Cundey for not yelling "BOOM" when the mic fell into frame. Not once, but twice (and thrice if you include a moving boom shadow).
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