The Parent Trap (1998 film)

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The Parent Trap
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Nancy Meyers
Produced by Charles Shyer
Screenplay by David Swift
Nancy Meyers
Charles Shyer
Based on Lottie and Lisa
1949 novel 
by Erich Kästner
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Dean Cundey
Edited by Stephen A. Rotter
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • July 29, 1998 (1998-07-29)
(United States)
  • December 11, 1998 (1998-12-11)
(United Kingdom)
Running time
128 minutes[1]
Country United States
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $15.5 million
Box office $92.1 million

The Parent Trap is a 1998 romantic comedy film co-written and directed by Nancy Meyers, and produced and co-written by Charles Shyer. It is the second adaptation of Erich Kästner's German novel Lottie and Lisa (Das doppelte Lottchen) following the 1961 film of same name. Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson star as a couple who divorce soon after marrying; Lindsay Lohan stars (in her film debut) as both Hallie Parker and Annie James, identical twins who are accidentally reunited at summer camp after being separated at birth. David Swift wrote the screenplay for the original 1961 film based solely on Lottie and Lisa, but the story is comparable to that of the 1936 Deanna Durbin film Three Smart Girls, which inspired the novel.[2] Swift is credited along with Meyers and Shyer as co-writers of the 1998 version. The film received positive reviews and was a financial success.


In 1986, Nick Parker (Dennis Quaid) and Elizabeth James (Natasha Richardson) meet and get married during an ocean cruise on the RMS Queen Elizabeth II. After the birth of their twin daughters, Annie and Hallie (Lindsay Lohan), Nick and Elizabeth divorce and lose contact, each parent raising one of the twins without telling her about her sister. Nick raises Hallie in Napa Valley and becomes a wealthy wine grower, while Elizabeth raises Annie in London and becomes a famous wedding gown designer.

Over 11 years later, Nick and Elizabeth coincidentally enroll their daughters at the same all-girls summer camp in Maine called Camp Walden. Hallie and Annie first meet at the end of a fencing match, when they remove their masks and see that they look exactly alike. A comical hostility between the two girls leads to a prank war that ends when the camp counselors fall into one of Hallie's traps and isolate the twins from the other girls.

Living together in an isolation cabin, Hallie and Annie discover they were born on the same day, and each has half of a torn wedding photograph of their parents. Realizing with delight they are twins, the girls act a plan to meet their previously unknown parents. Each girl trains the other to impersonate her, with the intent to switch places at the end of summer camp.

When camp is over, the twins put their plan into action. Hallie, pretending to be Annie, goes to London to meet her mother, her maternal grandfather, Charles, and the James family's butler, Martin (Simon Kunz). Annie, pretending to be Hallie, goes to California to meet her father, the Parker family's housekeeper, Chessy (Lisa Ann Walter), their dog Sammy, and Nick's young, opportunistic fiancée, Meredith Blake (Elaine Hendrix), who is only interested in Nick's money. Distressed by Meredith's deviousness, Annie telephones Hallie and persuades her to bring Elizabeth to California to break up the engagement. However, Charles catches Hallie on the phone, and in California, Chessy figures out that it's Annie and not Hallie there. Soon, everyone except for Nick and Meredith, who remain unaware of the switch until their newfound family members surprise them, discovers the girls' identities.

To bring Nick and Elizabeth together, Hallie, Annie, Chessy, Martin, and Charles conspire to have them meet at a hotel in San Francisco by arranging for Nick to meet Meredith's parents and by not telling Elizabeth about Meredith. Nervous about meeting Nick, Elizabeth asks Martin to accompany Hallie and her. After a few comical mix-ups in the hotel, Nick and Elizabeth eventually see each other. Nick finally learns about the switch and the girls host a candlelit dinner for their parents, served by Chessy and Martin, on a yacht decorated to recreate their first meeting. At dinner, Elizabeth mentions that Nick did not follow her after she left him, and Nick responds that he was not sure if Elizabeth wanted him to. They make plans for the girls to spend holidays together, but decide against resuming their relationship.

Dismayed, Hallie and Annie force their parents to take them on a camping trip—the annual outing Nick and Hallie take before school starts—while keeping quiet about which twin is which. Elizabeth coaxes Meredith into camping with Nick and the girls in her place, while she stays behind at the Parker residence. During the trip, the girls play various tricks on Meredith. It all boils over after the two execute their final prank, of sending Meredith out on the lake by their camp while she is sleeping. Meredith becomes enraged and gives Nick an ultimatum: her or his daughters. Nick chooses the girls over Meredith and breaks off the engagement. Although Annie and Hallie are both punished for their shenanigans, they accept it, as they are rid of Meredith for good. Later, out of earshot of the girls, Nick asks Elizabeth to "Remind me to thank them one day."

When Nick returns home, he shows Elizabeth his wine collection, which includes the wine they drank at their wedding. Elizabeth is touched at first, but has a change of heart and returns to London with Annie. However, when Annie and Elizabeth get home, they find Hallie and Nick waiting for them, having flown there on the Concorde. They explain that they had realized they didn't want to lose Annie and Elizabeth again and Nick finally chased after Elizabeth like he should've done the first time she left. Elizabeth is fearful of remarrying, but she yields to Nick's unwavering confidence, and Hallie and Annie look on happily as their parents embrace. The ending shows Nick and Elizabeth getting remarried aboard the QE2, with the girls as bridesmaids and Martin and Chessy becoming engaged to be married.

Cast and characters[edit]

  • Lindsay Lohan, as Annie James and Hallie Parker, 11-year-old twin sisters who were separated shortly after birth. Following their parents' divorce, they were raised separately with no knowledge of each other.
  • Dennis Quaid, as Nicholas "Nick" Parker, Annie and Hallie's father, a wealthy American man who owns a winery.
  • Natasha Richardson, as Elizabeth "Liz" James, Annie and Hallie's mother, a famous English wedding gown designer.
  • Elaine Hendrix, as Meredith Blake, a young publicist who is planning to marry Nick for his money.
  • Lisa Ann Walter, as Chessy, the Parker family's housekeeper, who meets and falls in love with Martin. She also finds out about Annie's identity.
  • Simon Kunz, as Martin, the James family's butler, who falls for Chessy.
  • Polly Holliday, as Marva Kulp, Sr., the owner and manager of a summer camp.
  • Maggie Wheeler, as Marva Kulp, Jr., Marva Kulp, Sr.'s daughter and assistant.
  • Ronnie Stevens, as Charles James, Elizabeth's father, Annie and Hallie's grandfather, who managed to find out Hallie's identity.
  • Joanna Barnes, as Vicki Blake, Meredith's mother.
  • J. Patrick McCormack, as Les Blake, Meredith's father.
  • Erin Mackey, as the Annie/Hallie acting double.
  • Molly Mueller as the Lohan double.

Lindsay's mother, Dina, and siblings, Michael, Ali and Cody, all appear in uncredited cameos at the airport. Michael also appears in the movie as a boy who accidentally winds up at Camp Walden, mistaking it for a boys' camp.

Joanna Barnes appeared in the original 1961 film as Vicki Robinson, the gold digger who is planning to marry the girls' father for his money.

The scene where Nick sees Elizabeth and leans over in the elevator is a repeat of Cary Grant and Irene Dunne's classic scene from My Favorite Wife.


Principal photography started on July 15, 1997, in London, England, and continued in Napa Valley, San Francisco, Lake Arrowhead, and Los Angeles, California.[3]


The song used in the opening sequence in which glimpses of Nick and Elizabeth's first wedding is seen is Nat King Cole's "L-O-V-E". The song used in the end credits, in which photos of Nick and Elizabeth's second wedding is seen, is his daughter Natalie Cole's "This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)".

The instrumental music featured prominently in the hotel scene where the girls and their parents cross paths serendipitously is "In the Mood", which was previously made famous by the Glenn Miller band. Later in the hotel, Hallie sings a few bars of "Let's Get Together", a tune from the first version of the film that was a hit for its star, Hayley Mills. The song is also quoted over the Walt Disney Pictures logo, and at the end of Alan Silvestri's closing credits suite.

When Hallie shows up at Annie's poker game at Camp Walden, the music used is "Bad to the Bone" by George Thorogood and the Destroyers.

The background song heard in the campfire scene is "How Bizarre" by the music group OMC.


The Parent Trap
The Parent Trap (soundtrack).jpg
Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released July 28, 1998
Label Hollywood
  1. "L-O-V-E" – Nat King Cole
  2. "Do You Believe in Magic" – The Lovin' Spoonful
  3. "There She Goes" – The La's
  4. "Top of the World" – Shonen Knife
  5. "Here Comes the Sun" – Bob Khaleel
  6. "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons" – Linda Ronstadt
  7. "Soulful Strut" – Young-Holt Unlimited
  8. "Never Let You Go" – Jakaranda
  9. "Bad to the Bone" – George Thorogood & The Destroyers
  10. "The Happy Club" – Bob Geldof
  11. "Suite from The Parent Trap" – Alan Silvestri
  12. "This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)Natalie Cole
  13. "Dream Come True" – Ta-Gana
  14. "Groovin'" – Pato Banton & The Reggae Revolution
  15. "Let's Get Together" – Nobody's Angel

Film score[edit]

The Parent Trap
The Parent Trap (score).jpg
Film score by Alan Silvestri
Released September 1, 1998
Label Hollywood
watch the movie chronology
The Odd Couple II
The Parent Trap
Practical Magic
  1. "The Disney Logo"
  2. "Suite from The Parent Trap"
  3. "Annie and Martin"
  4. "Shake Hands, Girls"
  5. "Like Twins"
  6. "Changes"
  7. "Hallie Meets Mom"
  8. "Annie Meets Dad"
  9. "Vineyard Suite"
  10. "I Am Annie"
  11. "Dad's Getting Married"
  12. "Hallie Breaks the News"
  13. "You'll Kill in It"
  14. "Table for Two"
  15. "She's Gone"
  16. "Where Dreams Have No End"
  17. "We Actually Did It"
  18. "Finale"


Critical response[edit]

The film received positive reviews. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 86% approval rating with an average rating of 6.8/10 based on 50 reviews.[4] The website's consensus states: "Writer-director Nancy Meyers takes the winning formula of the 1961 original and gives it an amiable modern spin, while young star Lindsay Lohan shines in her breakout role."[5] Metacritic gave the film a score of 64/100, based on reviews from 19 critics, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[6]

Siskel and Ebert gave the film "two thumbs up".[citation needed] Critic Kenneth Turan called Lindsay Lohan "the soul of this film as much as Hayley Mills was of the original", going on to say that "she is more adept than her predecessor at creating two distinct personalities".[7]

The film won Lohan a Young Artist Award for best performance in a feature film.[8][9][10]

Box office[edit]

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $11,148,497 in 2,247 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking #2 at the box office, behind Saving Private Ryan. By the end of its run, The Parent Trap grossed $66,308,518 domestically and $25,800,000 internationally, totaling $92,108,518 worldwide.[11]

Deleted scenes[edit]

The scene slots between Hallie and Martin meeting at Heathrow Airport, and Hallie meeting her mother and grandfather. Hallie is in a limo and they come across Buckingham Palace. She gets out and tries to get one of the guards to move. The guards then crowd around in formation as the Queen exits Buckingham Palace in a car. The window rolls down and Hallie speaks to the Queen, getting confused with 'Your Highness' or 'Your Majesty' or whether to curtsy. The Queen promises not to tell a soul and moves off. Director Nancy Meyers had a difficult time getting the uniforms, location, and an actress to play the Queen. The scene was deleted due to pacing problems.

Another deleted scene appears in the trailer that debuted in 1998. The scene shows Hallie standing out on the deck of her vineyard-estate house. She sees a shooting star and sings the rhyme "Starlight, Starbright". Annie appears standing outside her window, too.

In the original draft of the script, many scenes are altered or deleted. An extended ear-piercing scene is in. While putting the needle through Annie's ear, Hallie screams and passes out. Annie gently smacks Hallie in the face, trying to wake her up. After Hallie wakes up, she asks Annie, "Are you bleeding to death? Did it hurt?" Annie tells her no to both questions and shows Hallie the needle again, and tells her to finish with the other because she (Annie) will not go through life with just one pierced ear. Hallie passes out again.[12]

In an extended scene, Elizabeth delves further into why she and Nick did not stay together long. She says, "I tried living in California, he tried living in London...". Hallie replies, "So you broke up?" Elizabeth tells Hallie that she and Annie were the best thing about the whole situation and they continue to stroll down the streets of London.

There is an extended ending at the end where Hallie tells Annie: "You guys are going to love living in California." To which Annie replies: "California? You guys are going to love living in London." Then Hallie replies "London?" In the front yard, Sammy is barking to the poodle next door as Chessy and Martin are kissing and Charles is getting home.

References to the 1961 version of the film[edit]

As this film is a remake of the 1961 The Parent Trap, it features a number of references to the film on which it is based. Among them are:

  • The use of the Sherman Brothers song "Let's Get Together", which also plays over the Walt Disney Pictures logo
  • Meredith talks to a "Reverend Mosby", named after a character in the original film.
  • Some of the dialogue is almost identical to the 1961 film.
  • Actress Joanna Barnes, who played Vicki Robinson (a character like Meredith Blake) in the original film, plays Meredith's mother (also named Vicki) in this film. She also refers to Annie (as Hallie) as "pet", a term she used for the girls in the original.
  • The camp counselors, Marva Kulp Sr. and Jr., are named after Nancy Kulp, who played the younger camp counselor in the original film.
  • One of the bunk houses at the camp is called Arapahoe, which is also the name of one of the bunk houses in the 1961 film.
  • Many of the camping scenes were taken from the original film, such as:
    • The use of the sugar and water mosquito repellent which the twins give Meredith was also given to Vicki in the original film.
    • The use of clapping two sticks together to scare away mountain lions, even though there are none
    • The use of the lizard on Meredith's canteen

Pop culture references[edit]

  • After Hallie arrives in London, she and her mother walk across the street together, on the same street, zebra crossing, and with the same cars as the Abbey Road album cover of The Beatles. The song "Here Comes the Sun" (written by George Harrison) plays; the screen even pauses while they are walking across.
  • The music that accompanies Hallie and Annie's march to the isolation cabin is taken from the scene in The Great Escape in which Steve McQueen's character is marched to prison.
  • In numerous scenes, the girls refer to Meredith as Cruella de Vil, a reference to the 1996 film version of 101 Dalmatians which feature Richardson's sister, Joely Richardson.
  • First, Nick sees his former wife in a hotel as an elevator door closes in front of him. This is essentially identical to the corresponding scene in the 1940 screwball comedy My Favorite Wife, starring Irene Dunne and Cary Grant, and its 1963 remake Move Over, Darling, starring Doris Day and James Garner. Other references to the film are the husband's name, "Nick", and a scene where someone falls into a pool at a hotel.
  • When asked by Hallie, "You talkin' to me?" Meredith replies, "What are you, Robert De Niro?", a reference to the film Taxi Driver.
  • In the scene set in the isolation cabin during the rainstorm, Hallie's picture of Leonardo DiCaprio gets ruined by a gust of wind through an open window. Hallie is then surprised to find out that Annie has not heard of Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • Hallie, after being asked many questions about living in California, refers to two girls at Camp Walden as Lucy and Ethel, a reference to the American sitcom, "I Love Lucy" starring Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance.
  • After Annie calls Hallie "the lowest, most awful creature that ever walked the planet", Hallie imitates Elvis Presley by using his famous saying, "thank you, thank you very much."
  • When Annie arrives in California, Chessy runs out of the house and happily greets her, exclaiming "Hello Gorgeous!", the first words uttered by Barbra Streisand in the 1968 film, Funny Girl.
  • When Hallie and Annie call each other on the phone, they use the pseudonym, Mildred Plotka, which is the name of the protagonist in the film "Twentieth Century" starring John Barrymore and Carole Lombard.


  1. ^ The Parent Trap: 128 minutes (Starz 01/2010 Schedule, Page 4)
  2. ^ Kawano, Kelley (June 26, 2012). "Let's Get Together: An In-Depth Look at the Ongoing Appeal of Hayley Mills' 'The Parent Trap'". Retrieved November 9, 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Parent Trap - Production Notes - About the locations". Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  4. ^ "The Parent Trap (1998)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Kenneth Turan: The Parent Trap". Los Angeles Times. July 29, 1998. Archived from the original on August 4, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Celebrity Central: Lindsay Lohan". Archived from the original on January 31, 2010. Retrieved January 31, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Lindsay Lohan: Biography: Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on January 31, 2010. Retrieved October 4, 2014. 
  10. ^ "20th Annual Awards". The Young Artist Foundation. Retrieved October 18, 2009. 
  11. ^ "The Parent Trap (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-07-27. 
  12. ^ Continuity photos of this scene exist, so it can be assumed that some filming took place.

External links[edit]