The Parent Trap

Bomb Rating: 

This is the kind of Disney film that is downright dangerous. It's typical of most films from the team of Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer, who brought us such reckless fare as "Father of the Bride," which encouraged upper middle-class families everywhere to spend a fortune on a wedding that, in the real world, would bankrupt them completely. Politicians are always complaining that kids watch violent movies, then run out and mangle perfectly good fast food outlets. However, you never see them complaining when a family of plumbers spends two hundred grand on their daughter's wedding and then ends up living out their golden years in an outhouse after their trailer is repossessed.

"The Parent Trap" is cause for that kind of concern because the worlds in which twins Hallie and Annie James (Lindsay Lohan) live are free from all financial troubles. One of them lives on a vineyard with her rich father, Nick (Dennis Quaid), while the other lives in London with her fashion-designer mother, Elizabeth (Natasha Richardson). The only thing lacking in the lives of the twins is that one has never met her father and the other has never met her mother. Good thing Mom isn't a prostitute working in Soho and Dad an unemployed, homeless alcoholic in Oakland, because then getting them back together might be somewhat problematic. As it is, their financial conditions are virtually identical, so neither twin has to worry about a reduction in the square footage of her room.

While the twins work on getting their parents back together by switching places after meeting at a girls' camp, it's interesting to note the role of the help in the film. Each girl has a trusted house servant: a chubby woman, Chessy (Lisa Ann Walter) at the vineyard, and a balding butler, Martin (Simon Kunz), in London, who meet and fall for each other because the lower classes need to keep their sperm to themselves. Both have remarkably tight relationships with their bosses and, in fact, Liz remarks that she thinks of Martin as "a brother who serves her food." A few more patronizing remarks like that, and Martin will be serving up the food garnished with phlegm and strychnine. In fact, I think that's virtually the same thing GM execs said about the folks in the Flint plants until their "brothers" asked for a buck more per hour -- at which point they quickly became the diseased bastard stepchildren.

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