119 years of Trust   film and tv Wide Angle THE TRIBUNE
sunday reading
Sunday, September 5, 1999
Wide angle
Bollywood Bhelpuri


Sugar 'n' Spice
Garden Life
Fauji BeatLine
Laugh LinesLine

A classic remake
By Ervell E. Menezes

SO, the 1961, hit The Parent Trap which catapulted Hayley Mills to stardom has eventually been remade. Hollywood just can’t resist doing such things. That Hayley Mills also made The Family Way with Hywel Bennett (it is about a young husband who cannot consummate his marriage) in 1966, and Pretty Polly alongside Shashi Kapoor in 1967, is academic but she slowly rode out into the Hollywood sunset after marrying one of the Boulting brothers with whom she made The Family Way. He was twice her age.

Dennis Quaid, Natasha Richardson and Lindsay Lohan (who plays a double role)The Parent Trap is the story of twins who help bring their separated parents together, a cute enough subject that won many hearts in the 1960s. This version is somewhat updated, made more contemporary. Based on a popular German children’s story Das Doppelete Lottchen by Erich Kastner it is set in two continents, the United States and Britain, and has Lindsay Lohan playing the both the twins, Hallie Parker and Annie James, who accidentally meet at a summer camp for girls in Maine, start of by establishing their identities and then go about the rather difficult task of reconciling their long-separated parents.

Hallie is growing up in California with her vineyard-owner father Nick Parker (Dennis Quaid). Annie is raised in fashionable London by her mother Elizabeth James (Natasha Richardson) a renowned wedding gown designer. Pranksters in their own right, they are made to spend days in an isolation camp where they get to know each other better. One of their conversations runs like this:

Hallie: So if your mom is my mom and my dad is your dad... and we are both born on October 11, then you and I are ... like ... sisters.

Annie: Sisters? Hallie, we’re like...twins.

Their game plan is to switch places, with Hallie going to London to see her "long lost" mother and Annie going to California to do the same with her father. But when Annie gets there it is only to see her father being dazzled by a sexy and ambitious journalist Meredith Blake (Elaine Hendrix) who under the guise of doing a story on the vineyard owner intends becoming the new Mrs Parker.

The screenplay by David Swift, Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer has been made contemporary and though the slapstick comedy in the beginning can be annoying, director Nancy Meyers works wonders with the love angle. The precocious twins, hogging the best lines, do their thing and in the process endear themselves to the audiences.

Like in most children’s films, it is the adults who are made to look ridiculous and it is journalist Meredith who is made a target of the twins wrath and becomes a sort of Cruella de Vil (remember 101 Dalmatians?) in the process. But there is more romance when Annie’s cute butler Martin (Simon Kunz) finds Hallie’s maid Chessey (Lisa Ann Walter) ideal company.

Getting Lindsay Lohan to do a double role calls for a good deal of high-tech and veteran cinematographer Dean Cundey has handled most of these scenes with debutante Lindsay Lohan doing an excellent job after getting over her initial exuberance. Dennis Quaid is his usual credible self though he has to exercise a good deal of restraint while Natasha Richardson is sufficiently sophisticated as a British dressmaker but is able to show her more human side in dealing with romance. Joanna Barnes who played the "other woman" in the 1961 film does a cameo as Meredith’s mother, but the part is clearly academic.

A subject as cute as this is bound to work and though it takes a little time to settle down, the action builds up to a crescendo. Another significant development is that women are beginning to cry again. Ever since women’s lib came in over two decades ago, Hollywood seemed to take it upon itself to show men as vulnerable by getting them to cry. Now it seems the clock has turned a full circle.

Yes, The Parent Trap is worthy remake of that classic which is more than one can say of so many of todays remakes.

It’s back to horror in Lake Placid. And just horror for horror’s sake with little credibility and even less cinematic class. In a way it tries to imitate the Jaws phenomenon. First came the whale (Moby Dick), then came the shark, then the snake in Anaconda and now the crocodile. How the crocodile came to be in Maine (where Lake Placid is situated) is hard to believe but the incredibility goes further. The storyline too is thin.

Take an uptown New Yorker with manicured nails and a cell phone and put her in the wilderness in the midst of adventure. Why? Because her boss wants to have an affair with her colleague. So palaeontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda) finds herself in the wilderness to probe a spate of accidents taking place at Lake Placid.

Not unexpectedly she doesn’t take to Fish and Game Warden Jack Wells (Bill Pullman) who has to investigate the phenomenon along with Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson). Then to create a more-the-merrier group enters eccentric mythology Professor Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt) and you have a motley crowd. True, the film starts with some cute lines but the screenplay by David E. Kelly then deteriorates and director Steve Miner is handicapped with a weak story.

If you’re looking for nature in its pristine beauty there is a lot of it, rather well captured by cinematographer Daryn Okada. And the 30-foot crocodile is well created. But the wafer-thin plot falls flat much before the film gets over. Bridget Fonda who has proved her mettle in other action films Single White Female is one of them), does her best to salvage this film. And though the romance angle, the love-hate bit between her and Bill Pullman, works there’s little else that does.

Oliver Platt is not my idea of a comic hero (he’s in Mouse Hunt and The Impostors) and here the comic element seems out of place. But if you lull your reasoning powers and accept Hollywood’s anything-is-possible premise you might even grow to enjoy the shock treatment, but no Lake Placid is not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s putting things mildly. If you’ve been brought up on good horror films in the best Hollywood tradition, this is eminently avoidable.

And now just a bit about Shekhar Kapur and his Elizabeth I haven’t yet seen the film but this hu-ha with the Censors is quite pathetic. Does he have to resort to all this to make his film a box-office hit. First he says he’ll not accept any cuts. He’d rather not release the film. Later he says he’ll accept the cuts of the revising committee. Does he have to blow hot and cold, like this? I know the late Stanley Kubrick refused to take the cuts in Barry Lyndon in the 1970s, but then he stuck to what he said and the film was never released in India.

Of course I was sorry that for the Oscars night show on television the camera ignored his presence which was quite racist. But then I do not condone his double-speak with regard to the release of Elizabeth. He’s emulating Mira Nair and her act in Kama Sutra. Mr Kapur you are too good a film-maker to have to resort to these gimmicks.Back

Home Image Map
| Interview | Bollywood Bhelpuri | Sugar 'n' Spice | Nature | Garden Life | Fitness |
Travel | Your Option | Time off | A Soldier's Diary | Fauji Beat |
Feedback | Laugh lines | Wide Angle | Caption Contest |