#WayBackWednesday – The Parent Trap (1998)

We’re all stuck in the house, right? There’s never been a better time to dig into those retro movies that you’ve always wanted to watch, but never had the time for. Personally, I'm a bit of a retrophile and tend to watch more older flicks than newer ones. On Fangirlish, you can now look forward to a retro review from me each Wednesday in this column. I’ll be highlighting one throwback movie a week, offering a spoiler-free review of the film, any throwback thoughts from my childhood, and where you can watch the movie yourself. Sit back, relax, and enjoy #WayBackWednesday.

Sometimes it’s fun to revisit a film like The Parent Trap (1998) to see if it still holds up for you as an adult like it did when you were a kid. It’s especially fun when you can do that with friends.

The monthly tradition of Girl Movie Night among my friend group continued this past weekend. The theme was “Movies Set in a Place You Want to Travel,” and the Lindsay Lohan version of The Parent Trap won out, along with The Greatest Showman. Apparently we all really want to go to London. 

Source Also, can I just say this is the most relatable gif of 2020?

I’d not watched The Parent Trap since high school, and to be honest, I can only recall watching it two or three times in total. I’ve not even seen the original. One of my friends had only seen the original and it was on repeat at her house growing up.

My main memories of the 1998 version come from my first viewing of the film. I watched it at school at the end of the fall semester. It was the last day of school before Christmas break. I had just completed an in-school performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol where yours truly played The Ghost of Christmas Past. When we got to the scene where Natasha Richardson’s character, Elizabeth James, says, “He looked at me like I was the bloody Ghost of Christmas Past!” everyone turned to look and laugh along with me. It was a lot of fun, and it instilled a fondness for the film in me that persists to this day. 

The Parent Trap (1998) is a reboot of the 1961 film of the same name, based on the 1949 book by German author Erik Kästner entitled Das doppelte Lottchen (translated: The Double Lottie). The novel became extremely popular and was adapted many times, but most famously by Disney with these two adaptations. Because of the ubiquity of both versions of this film, I’d wager that most readers of Fangirlish grew up watching one or both Disney adaptations on repeat.

I certainly recall both versions getting a fair amount of airplay on the Disney Channel growing up. A brief synopsis feels superfluous, but on the off chance you’re not familiar with this film, I’ll let the trailer do the talking. Check out the trailer for 1998’s The Parent Trap and we’ll get started. 

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Upon rewatching, I’ll confess it took me a little bit to get back into the film. Some of the jokes fell a little flat for me, but now having watched Friends, I felt some amusement when I recognized the assistant camp director, Marva Kulp, Jr., as Janice from Friends (Maggie Wheeler). Even without the exaggerated accent and big hair, her voice is unmistakable.

Once I settled in a little more, I began to remember why I always enjoyed this movie. It’s got some gentle humor, fun slapstick, and let’s be honest, I knew if I had done anything remotely like Hallie and Annie (Lindsay Lohan) as a kid, I’d have gotten in huge trouble. It was a bit of wish fulfillment on my part to watch them pull pranks and save their dad from an evil fiancée. 

Here are a few fun facts I picked up on this rewatch that I think will pique your interest.

  • Elaine Hendrix, who played Meredith Blake, the evil fiancée, is from about 45 minutes from where I grew up in East Tennessee. If you listen closely when she gets angry and raises her voice, her Appalachian lilt sneaks through and I’m here for it! 
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  • Speaking of Meredith, the lady who plays her mother is Joanna Barnes. Ms. Barnes played the original evil fiancée, Vicky Robinson, in the 1961 version with Hayley Mills. 
  • The score for the 1998 film uses a theme and variation on “Let’s Get Together” from the 1961 adaptation. 
  • The musical choices for the soundtrack are on point without being too on the nose. “Am I the Same Girl” by Dusty Springfield, “Parents Just Don’t Understand” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, and “Do You Believe in Magic?” by The Lovin’ Spoonful all fit so well thematically with their scenes. The music enhances the scene without making it cheesy. 
  • According to my friends who have seen the 1961 version of The Parent Trap, the 1998 version pays homage to the original with some of its dialogue and Lindsay Lohan’s mannerisms. It shows respect for the original film while also doing its own thing. In my opinion, these are hallmarks of a solid reboot. 
  • Can I just say, as an adult, I identify with Chessy? She’s awesome. No nonsense, loyal, takes care of her people, and hugs/cooks it out when she gets big feels. 

Need something light-hearted to put a smile on your face? I recommend The Parent Trap. Do you have fond memories of this film or the original? Leave a comment and we’ll talk. 

The Parent Trap (1998) is streaming now on Disney+. 

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