It would appear that the 1961 Disney film The Parent Trap helped to spur popularity within Disney’s non-animated film section. Films like the Herbie films, and films featuring other stars like Kurt Russell would soon follow several years later. Based on a book by Erich Kastner, and written and directed by David Swift (Eight is Enough, Barney Miller), the film is centered around Sharon and Susie (both played by Hayley Mills, Saved by the Bell, Pollyanna), who are i…entical twins who do not realize that they are sisters. After some initial bristling between the two, they manage to get along and learn more about each other.
They find out that they are related, and learn more about their parents. As it turns out, their mother Maggie (Maureen O’Hara, McClintock!) and father Mitch (Brian Keith, Hardcastle and McCormick) split up, and one parent took one of the twins to Boston, and the other to California. The girls resent that this was not mentioned to them before, and decide to switch roles so that not only they can learn more about the parents that left them, but eventually decide to plot to try to get them back together again. The problem with that is that Mitch is currently seeing Vicky Robinson (Joanna Barnes, Spartacus), so the girls try to break up that relationship.
For the straight to TV sequel, Mills reprises her roles as the twins, but this time, they use their Wonder Twin Powers so that Sharon’s daughter and a friend of hers make sure Sharon falls in love with a sportswriter named Bill (Tom Skerritt, Picket Fences, Steel Magnolias). Now, the sequel was a film that was designed to come out around the 25th anniversary of the first film, but it lacks the charm and cuteness of the first film unfortunately. As a note, the ratings don’t allow me to review each film separately, so the rating is based on averaging the two films. The original is 4 out of 5, and the sequel is 2 out of 5.
The original sports a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and it sounds clear, but a little bit on the hollow side. It could probably have been better served by a 2 channel soundtrack. And not the 2 channel audio track that the sequel has, because that sounds pretty contained, and not a lot is going on in the surround speakers.
The original version of the film comes along with a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. It looks pretty good for a 40 year old film, and compared to the sequel which appears in full frame, looks a little bit better. The sequel’s transfer is very dirty and has a lot of scratches and objects in it. The original is cleaned up and looks good. It begs the question; why was the sequel included in the first place?
The DVD is a 2 disc set, with Disc 1 holding the first two films (which could explain the slightly below average picture quality). Disc 2 holds the extras, but that pretty much focuses on the first film and the successes it brought. Aside from some quick looks at some components behind the film’s success, notably the composers of that catchy song (which is all over both discs), but also the stand in that Mills worked with, aptly named “The Lost Twin”. There’s a detailed biographical look at Mills’ career, along with some interviews from the surviving crew members on the production of the film and the impact it had on their lives and careers. And surprisingly, there’s a lot of participation here. Mills, Barnes, O’Hara and Swift all provide nostalgia on the film and working with and under “Uncle Walt”. It’s hard to tell how recent the footage is, as a quick check of IMDB reveals that Swift died on New Year’s Eve 2001, but it’s clear to see that a lot of effort was put into the extras, to include those few who may still be around.
The nut in me says that this would have been a perfect release if Mills was able to contribute a little bit more than 10 or 15 minutes of interview footage on the film, but the extras have a lot of thought put into them, and having never seen the movie before, it was very enjoyable. The sequel’s inclusion was…different, not necessarily in a good way, but fans of the film shouldn’t hesitate to pick this up for themselves. It’s a very good family film that is worth watching. Needless to say, you can skip the Lindsay Lohan version.
Special Features List
- “The Making of the Parent Trap”
- Featurette on the Sherman Brothers
- Music Video
- “The Lost Twin”
- Studio Album
- Special Effects Featurette
- Hayley Mills Profile