Now that remakes of family films are riding high at the box office (take Dr Dolittle or Flubber), it's hardly surprising the team behind the rehashed Father Of The Bride should turn to this 1961 Hayley Mills hit. Two thousand girls were screen-tested for the task of filling Mills's shoes, with American acting veteran Lindsay Lohan winning the dual role of Hallie and Annie. It was a good choice, with Lohan convincing as English Annie and Californian Hallie.
The plot, which relies heavily on the original, creaks occasionally. What kind of parents would split up their kids on a whim? And what English family still lives with a butler, a grandfather straight out of the Werthers Original advert, and takes tea every day at four o'clock? But it's all part of the fantasy world that co-writers and director and producer Meyers and Shyer wanted to create.
And it works. It's a girl's dream film, with action, romance and escapism galore. The relationship between Nick and Elizabeth is sensitively handled, while Lohan (in two guises) explores the wilds, has a fencing duel and goes through a succession of designer outfits. There're also a couple of sly nods to the original: while waiting for a lift, Lohan sings some lines of Let's Get Together, a chart hit for Mills after her dual vocal performance in the earlier version. Joanne Barnes, who played the scheming bitch who tried to woo the girls' father in that '61 version, also appears as the mum of the scheming bitch out to seduce Nick this time round.
There's plenty to laugh at, with comic cameos from Maggie Wheeler (Janice from Friends) as a camp counsellor and Lisa Hendrix (the Vogue editor from Romy&Michele) as the gold digger after Nick's fortune. It does drag a touch, and the split-screen SFX aren't always as sharp as they could be. But The Parent Trap can't be beaten as a family feelgood Christmas film.
An entertaining remake of the 1961 Disney classic, with a winning lead performance from Lindsay Lohan. It might be a junior chick-flick, but it's got enough action, adventure and genuine laughs to hold the attention of more than its target audience.