Director: David Swift
About as classic a family film as you can find, The Parent Trap is a standard by which all other teen high jinx movies should be compared, and probably found wanting. The amount of times my sister and I watched this golden oldie when we were young, over the summer when we were bored, on any rainy day when we needed a pick-me-up, can’t be counted; I bet we’d have worn through our VHS if VHSes weren’t built like tanks. This is cinema as its purest and finest, combining comedy with compassion, and resulting in something almost magical.
At a summer camp for girls, two guests, Susan and Sharon, meet and instantly dislike each other. It’s not that they’re exact opposites, which doesn’t help; one from Cali, one from Boston, one tomboyish, one proper, one wild, one contained. No, it’s a similarity that makes them angry at each other for no reason at all; they look exactly alike. They soon discover that they are sisters, split soon after birth by divorcing parents, and it immediately becomes a mission to get their parents back together, whatever the cost. But first, they’ll have to switch places, and that’s when the fun begins.
What a lovely, wonderful, elegantly made comedy, that also hits you right in the feels and always breezes by with a timeless air that few films have ever been able to achieve. There is so much happening in so little time: the camp, a mystery, the switch, the switch back, an evil fiancee, a wedding to ruin, a trip; it’s a miracle they fit so much in. But every piece is fun and fancy free, with a classic love story brought out by the tumult, with audiences along for the ride every step of the way. The casting is perfect, down to the smallest character, the comedic timing is superb, and the music is lovely; there’s just nothing not to adore about Parent Trap, it’s simply too good to deny.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★