Don't waste a second being annoyed that you are mainlining sugar syrup: that's the point.

THE PARENT TRAP

A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.


Do yourself a favor: invite the child of your choice-age 6 to 11-for a summer afternoon at "The Parent Trap." Don't waste a second being annoyed that you are mainlining sugar syrup: that's the point. This movie is spun of sugar. It's a fantasy that begs you not to ask how two parents could separate their twins at birth during a bitter divorce, why eleven intervening years have dissolved their anger, or why Mr. and Mrs. Right would have split in the first place. Buy the popcorn, settle in, and watch what five nifty performers can do with light comedy as family fare.

Hallie Parker and Annie James (Lindsay Lohan) meet at summer camp and make a decision to swap places in a carefully plotted effort to reunite their parents (Natasha Richardson and Dennis Quaid). Annie, who lives in London with Liz, her beautiful, warm, loving, British fashion designer mother, instead returns home from camp to Nick, her warm, fuzzy, appealingly dense dad. Hallie, who has lived with her father in his glorious California vineyard, returns to her mother's stuff-of-dreams London townhouse.

And so the fun begins. Liz is tended by Martin (Simon Kunz), the loyal butler who adores mother and daughter with a heart full of protective admiration punctuated by bursts of genuine hilarity. It is Mr. Kunz who manages, several times, to send a roar of laughter through the audience. In California, Nick is watched over by Chessy (Lisa Ann Walter), the executive housekeeper who runs the household with love and a knack for sharp observation. These two butlers, overflowing with undemanding devotion and a light touch, could make anyone's life tick.

When Nick announces his ludicrous intention to marry Meredith (Elaine Hendrix), a nasty Barbie doll with money on her mind, Hallie and Annie hatch a transcontinental plot to prevent it. The harridan, immediately christened Cruella de Vil by the twins, is played with such over-the-top bitchiness by Elaine Hendrix that we anticipate every stroke of her bad luck with glee.

If the camera lingers too long on Dennis Quaid's too-good-to-be-true crooked smile, he makes a winning dumbo for Cruella and a nice symbol for an affectionate father. Natasha Richardson is terrific in the reactions and responses she must deliver repeatedly as everyone around her does the unexpected. Bright, beautiful, and a tad vulnerable, she adds greatly to the good-natured fun.

Endowing each of the twins with a distinct voice and character, Lindsay Lohan is remarkable in her subtle switching between British and American English. She lifts the movie as surely as a lesser performance would have sunk it.

If you think all this sounds like a too sweet piece of key lime pie, you underestimate the performers. Bring a light heart and a young friend to this funny fantasy, and smile at a stylishly filmed world of plenty where everything works out if people just try hard enough to make each other happy.


Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 496
Studio : Disney
Rating : PG
Running time : 2h7m


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