'90s Movie Month! "The Parent Trap" Review

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Identical twins, separated at birth and each raised by one of their biological parents, discover each other for the first time at summer camp and make a plan to bring their wayward parents back together.
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'90s Movie Month! "The Parent Trap" Review

Rating: PG (mild mischief)
Length: 127 minutes
Release Date: Jul. 29, 1998
Directed by: Nancy Meyers
Genre: Adventure/Comedy/Romance/Family/Drama

"The Parent Trap" is one of the few live-action Disney films that has enjoyed the same level of success as some of the studio's animated movies. In true Disney style, "The Parent Trap" uses serious subject matter to craft a heartwarming, feel-good plot and delivers a perfect balance of comedy and drama to bring the story to life. Like many live-action Disney movies, "The Parent Trap" is a remake of a classic film. In this case, it is based on the 1961 film of the same name.

"The Parent Trap" is the film that launched Lindsay Lohan to international stardom. The adorable child actor portrayed both twins, a remarkable feat for a young star. Prior to "The Parent Trap," Lindsay Lohan was already known for a multitude of popular commercials as well as her role as Alexandra Fowler in the hit television soap opera "Another World." However, "The Parent Trap" was her first major film. Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson starred alongside Lindsay Lohan as the twins' mismatched parents. Before starring in "The Parent Trap," Quaid was known for his roles in "Great Balls of Fire!" and "Innerspace," and Richardson was already famous for her performances in "The Comfort of Strangers," "Nell," and "Widows' Peak."

One of the film's opening scenes takes place in 1986 on the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2, a luxurious ocean cruise ship. Nick Parker and Elizabeth James are two single voyagers who meet on the cruise and get married. After Elizabeth and Nick have two adorable twin daughters named Annie and Hallie, they get divorced and soon lose contact with one another. Each girl is raised by a different parent, and neither is ever told that she has a twin. Both parents lead wealthy lives, and their daughters live comfortably. Nick raises Hallie in Napa Valley while he runs a very successful wine company. Elizabeth, now a world-famous wedding gown designer, raises Annie in the heart of London.

Eleven years after the family divided, Nick and Elizabeth accidentally send their daughters to the same summer camp in the mountains of Maine. Because they have no contact with one another, they have no idea that they are sending their girls to the same place. For some time, the girls manage to avoid running into each other in spite of some confusion amongst the camp counselors and the other campers, but a fencing match changes everything. Hallie and Annie have a dramatic and startling encounter when they remove their masks at the end of the fencing match and realize that they look exactly the same. At first, the girls are confused and become somewhat hostile towards each other in a hilarious way, and a wild prank war breaks out between them that comes to an end when they accidentally trap one of the camp counselors.

In the midst of their camp adventures, Annie and Hallie realize that they share the same birthday. Their surprise becomes a revelation when they realize that they each carry one half of a torn photograph of their parents' wedding. Delighted by the realization that they are long-lost twins, the two girls come up with a brilliant plan that will let them meet the parents they never knew they had. The twins train day and night until they can impersonate each other perfectly, and they trade places when it's time to go home. The rest of the film revolves around their drastically different lives and the drama that ensues when they decide to hatch a conspiracy to get their parents to marry each other again. Even though their parents agree to let the girls spend the holidays with each other when they realize their daughters are desperate to stay in touch, they do not have any desire to rekindle their romantic relationship. Of course, the girls are simply not willing to settle for that, and they pull out all the stops to reunite their family once and for all.

"The Parent Trap" is a heartwarming movie that has been a family favorite since its release in 1998. Critics and filmgoers alike praised "The Parent Trap" for its realistic yet uplifting story and genuinely funny moments. The film grossed over $11 million in theaters across the United States and Canada during its opening weekend, earning it second place in the box office just behind "Saving Private Ryan." When its worldwide run was over, "The Parent Trap" had brought in a worldwide total of over $92 million, making it one of the most successful live-action Disney films of all time.

Rating: 3 out of 5