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The Parent Trap

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The last film the husband-and-wife team of Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer worked on together was Father Of The Bride Part II, an insipid, saccharine bit of leaden whimsy that had all the wit, subtlety, and soul of a Hallmark card. Likewise, the recent slew of remakes of '60s Disney films (Flubber, That Darn Cat, 101 Dalmatians) have been similarly crass and uninspired. Which makes it all the more surprising that Meyers and Shyer's remake of Disney's 1961 Hayley Mills vehicle The Parent Trap is a genuinely good film, a sweet-natured trifle that works as both a whimsical children's fantasy and an engaging romantic comedy. Newcomer Lindsay Lohan stars as a pair of dissimilar, long-separated twins—one British, one American—who are accidentally reunited when they attend the same summer camp. The two then switch places in an attempt to reunite their charming, twinkly-eyed parents (Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson). Lohan's performance is a little shaky early on—and her English accent is questionable throughout—but both her performance and the film eventually improve rapidly. (Unfortunately, this doesn't happen until after scenes of a kiddie poker game set to the strains of "Bad To The Bone" and a prank that would require a small fortune and a veteran special-effects crew.) But once the girls switch places, things pick up, and director Meyers does a good job capturing the awe and delight of the young twins as they discover a world they never knew existed. The film's only real wrong note is struck by Lisa Ann Walter, who plays Quaid's fiancée as a one-dimensional, gold-digging dragon lady. The Parent Trap is every bit as romantic and patrician as Meyers and Shyer's Father Of The Bride movies, but this time, the film is sentimental without being saccharine, and upscale without devolving into grotesque, Martha Stewart-esque consumer porn.