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Walt Disney Home Video presents
The Parent Trap (1961) / The Parent Trap II (1961/1986)

"You know, it's scary the way nobody stays together anymore these days. Pretty soon there's gonna be more divorces than marriages."
- Susan Evers (Hayley Mills)

Review By: Nate Meyers   
Published: October 04, 2005

Stars: Hayley Mills, Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith, Tom Skerritt, Carrie Kei Heim, Bridgette Andersen
Other Stars: Cathleen Nesbitt, Charles Ruggles, Una Merkel, Joanna Barnes, Linda Watkins, Ruth McDevitt, Alex Harvey, Gloria Cromwell, Judith Tannen
Director: David Swift, Ronald F. Maxwell

MPAA Rating: G for (brief violence)
Run Time: 03h:30m:19s
Release Date: September 27, 2005
UPC: 786936286960
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- CC+C+ A+

DVD Review

Hayley Mills is pretty much the definition of cute in the original version of The Parent Trap. The movie, based on the German book Das Doppelte Lottchen, came out in 1961 and proved pretty durable, spawning many sequels, copycats, and even a remake. I prefer the Lindsay Lohan version myself, but the release of The Parent Trap: 2-Movie Collection (featuring both the 1961 film and its first sequel) is a nice tribute to the movie and star that started it all.

"You must bring mother to California. Boston is no place to rekindle a romance.-Sharon McKendrick (Hayley Mills)

The Parent Trap

From the campy songs by Richard and Robert Sherman to the decorum of early 1960s America, the movie that introduced us to identical twins Sharon McKendrick and Susan Evers (both played by Mills) still works well in 2005. Sharon lives with her mom, Maggie (Maureen O'Hara), in Boston and is a refined girl, while her counterpart Susan lives in Carmel with her dad, Mitch (Brian Keith), and is somewhat of a tomboy. The two meet at an all-girls summer camp where they become rivals, with Susan trashing Sharon's cabin and Sharon getting revenge by embarrassing Susan at a dance. As punishment, the two girls must share the same bunk and (lo and behold) it turns out they're twins separated at birth. The girls trade places in order to meet their estranged parents, but soon decide to reunite them before Mitch marries the villainous Vicky (Joanna Barnes).

Writer-director David Swift tells the tale well, though his technique is perhaps less effective now than when it originally premiered. The physical comedy feels highly staged, especially when Maggie and Mitch reunite during a wedding rehearsal, and the twins' interaction seems a bit unrealistic today, undoubtedly due to the limitations of the special effects at that time. Using split-screen processing, the artists at Disney Studios convincingly put two Hayley Mills into the same frame, but the shots are always obvious in light of recent developments in visual effects. However, Swift never loses sight of the story. The dialogue has moments of grace and the general predicament of two girls trying to get their parents back together is a pleasant premise. From a clever homage to The Bridge on the River Kwai to his earnest direction of the actors, Swift sprinkles the story with nice bits of comedy and a solid pro-family message.

The cast is good, with Hayley Mills especially playing her parts well. Granted, her natural English accent doesn't pass for a Bostonian snob, but she approaches the twins with zeal and it is contagious. Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith work well off of one another, helping to make the adult drama sustain the antics of Susan and Sharon. Joanna Barnes plays an excellent heavy as the gold-digging Vicky, embodying the wicked potential stepmom every kid fears. Thanks to the efforts of the cast, these characters feel authentic in a highly formulaic story.

Nearly 45 years later, The Parent Trap still works as entertainment. Indeed, it is a product of its time and I can't pretend it isn't dated. However, a fun time is a fun time.

Style Grade: B
Substance Grade: B-

Nikki: Mom, we can't move to New York. We can't. There was a thing on the news just now about a woman in Manhattan who got attacked by a guy in a nun's suit.
Sharon: Habit, Nikki.
Nikki: I don't care why he did it.

-Carrie Kei Heim, Hayley Mills

This follow-up to the hit 1961 film originally aired on TV in 1986, featuring Hayley Mills in her dual roles. Sharon is now a divorced mom, raising Nikki (Carrie Kei Heim) while juggling her burgeoning career. Nikki is devastated to learn that they'll be moving to New York, especially since she finally has a best friend, Mary (Bridgette Andersen). Wouldn't you know it? It turns out Mary's dad, Bill (Tom Skerritt), is a widower and the two girls conspire to have Sharon and Bill hook-up so they can continue to see each other. The only problem is that neither parent is interested and the girls cannot trick them into loving one another... until Sharon's twin Susan arrives in town to help the girls.

As far as TV movies go, this is pretty average stuff. The plot is too far-fetched to hold water, even in its abbreviated running time, and the characters never capture the warmth of the original film. Nikki and Mary are downright mean to their parents, embarrassing both as they forge love letters and fake police reports. More importantly, however, is that Susan's willingness to partake in the children's deception is never convincing. Does anybody believe a married woman would fly across the country in secret to help her niece carry out such shenanigans?

The acting leaves something to be desired, especially the children's. Carrie Kei Heim and Bridgette Andersen are cute, but there's no spark in their performances. For the most part, both girls seem to be reading their lines. Tom Skerritt is underwhelming also, appearing on screen with an air about him that suggests he views his role as nothing but a means to a paycheck. Only Mills comes off well, but the twin sisters are not as interesting in adulthood. She tries admirably to put a good foot forward, but her efforts are in vain.

Style Grade: C
Substance Grade: D+

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesyes

Image Transfer Review: The Parent Trap is presented in its original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio. The anamorphic transfer is fairly strong, with only some minor print defects. The colors are dull, but otherwise this is a nice transfer. Also on the first disc, The Parent Trap II is shown in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The nonanamorphic transfer is on the second layer of the RSDL disc (as is the conclusion to the first film) and the sequel looks older than the original. Print defects are noticeable throughout and the image has a lifeless look to it. Considering both prints, this is a slightly above average presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for The Parent Trap is extremely front-heavy and offers little in the way of dynamic range. However, it is a fitting, crisp presentation of the movie and never gets in the way. The Parent Trap II contains a Dolby Stereo 2.0 mix, though it is very bland and uninteresting. Dialogue is clear on both films, which is the most important thing.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 36 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
2 Original Trailer(s)
0 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Tarzan: Special Edition DVD, Old Yeller: Special Edition DVD, Toy Story: 10th Anniversary Edition DVD
Packaging: Amaray Double
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:47m:05s

Extra Extras:
  1. Let's Get Together—a music video created by setting footage from the movie to the famous song.
  2. Galleries—contains still photographs of location footage, publicity materials, and the movie's documents.
  3. Audio Archives—features radio ads, recordings of the film's songs, and also a feature about mixing an audio track.
Extras Review: This is the second time Disney has released David Swift's The Parent Trap to DVD. The original contained an audio commentary by Swift and Hayley Mills, as well as an animated short. Both are absent from this release, but the second disc is identical to the original. All of the special features pertain to the 1961 version.

Things start off with Lost Treasures: Who's the Twin? (06m:03s), a featurette about Susan Henning-Schutte, who plays the body double in the film. She tells some good anecdotes about making the movie, and it's a nice introduction to the special features. Following that is the 1961 Disney Studio Album, nothing more than an extended trailer highlighting the movies and events at the studio during that year.

Parent Trap: Caught in the Act (18m:48s) is a nice, all-encompassing documentary about the film's production. Don't let the short running time fool you; this thing is loaded with information thanks to the interviews with Swift, Mills, Maureen O'Hara, and others linked to the production. Everybody truly seems to have enjoyed their work, and it is a pleasant thing to see. The interviews in this documentary are recycled in the subsequent features, however.

A Let's Get Together (01m:39s) music video containing clips from the movie is also included, though how much you like it will depend on your fondness for the song. Regardless of your personal opinions about their music, Music Magic with the Sherman Brothers (14m:44s) is an insightful, excellent look at the famous brothers and their creative process.

Next are two theatrical trailers, though the menu advertises a composite of TV spots and trailers. In case you haven't noticed, the extras are laid out to switch back-and-forth between fluff and good stuff. Disney Legend: Hayley Mills (22m:33s) uses the same interviews seen elsewhere on the disc, but the focus is on her family life and the challenges of being a child actor. There's some nice home movie footage of her with dad, actor John Mills.

The featurette Seeing Double (09m:19s) goes through all the technology used to put Hayley Mills in the same frame with herself. If you're not familiar with the techniques used, then this should be a rather intriguing extra. Title Makers (17m:19s) is an old Disney TV special, featuring Walt, Annette Funicello, and Tommy Sands. Most of it is a promo for the movie, but there's a brief look at how the opening title sequence was created. The final documentary on the disc, Kimball & Swift: The Disney Years (17m:34s) contains all new interviews exclusively used for this feature. The director and legendary animator Ward Kimball go into their relationship together, filling the time with lots of anecdotes and stories about the creation of various animated characters.

There are a wealth of still galleries, with one for Production Stills, Production Art, Advertising, and Documents. Each is loaded with photos. There also are biographies and filmographies for the principal cast and crew. There's also an Audio Archives section, featuring no less than 11 radio promo spots for the film. Additionally, the songs For Now, for Always and The Parent Trap can be listened, playing over stills from both films. The audio archives also contain a Sound Studio for the scenes in which Maggie arrives at Mitch's house and when the girls sabotage Vicky. You can listen to the final audio mix, the dialogue recording, the sound effects track, or the music track via your remote.

The trailers for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Tarzan: Special Edition DVD, Old Yeller: Special Edition DVD, and Toy Story: 10th Anniversary Edition DVD are also included.

Extras Grade: A+


Final Comments

The special features and original incarnation of The Parent Trap make this set worth an investment, though the superfluous addition of The Parent Trap II is distracting. Nonetheless, if you're looking for harmless family fun, then step into this trap.


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