I wish I remembered who first introduced me to The Parent Trap, so I could thank them for that gift. It was my favorite movie as a kid, and I recently decided to watch it again, just to see how it held up.
As soon as the first chords of the opening song on the soundtrack, “L-O-V-E” started playing, I was tearing up. You know how sometimes you have a specific song, smell, taste, sensation, that every time you experience it again it transports you right back to where you were the first time?
I must have cried 10 times watching The Parent Trap this time.
For me, “L-O-V-E” always takes me back to The Parent Trap. More importantly, it takes me back to how this movie made me feel: powerful; hopeful; as though anything was possible, not just for me as a child (finding a surprise twin!) but for me as an adult (falling back in love with someone I once thought I’d lost).
I must have cried 10 times watching The Parent Trap this time. Of course, part of that is probably due to the fact that I’m just a very emotional adult, and literally everything makes me cry. But some of it was because this movie is so special to me.
But the scene where Annie and Hallie discover they’re twins? I bawled.
As a kid, I nearly wore out our VHS of the film, watching it so often my family hid it from me for months at a time. I tried to teach my friends the secret handshake Martin and Annie perform when she first arrives at camp. Sometimes, I even dreamed of going somewhere and finding my own long-lost twin.
I raged against Meredith Blake just like Annie and Hallie did, and cheered on her downfall. I watched with bated breath when Nick and Liz saw each other for the first time and cackled at all of Chessy and Martin’s interactions.
After all, I’m 26 now, not nine like I was when I first saw it, so would I still care about the antics of two 11-year-old twins?
To be honest, when I sat down to watch the movie I wasn’t sure it would hold up. After all, the version I love, made in 1998 and directed by Nancy Meyers, is over two decades old at this point. I wondered if it would be like so many other movies I loved during my childhood, which felt cheap and mass-produced, generic after the first time.
I also didn’t know if I’d still be intrigued by the storyline. After all, I’m 26 now, not nine like I was when I first saw it, so would I still care about the antics of two 11-year-old twins? Would Lindsay Lohan as the twins and Natasha Richardson and Dennis Quaid as their parents still wow me?
Maybe a part of me even worried that I would emphasize with Meredith Blake (played by Elaine Hendrix), who at 26 in the movie is somehow… my age? Even though she comes across far more put-together and “with it” than I could dream of being.
I’m here to report, enthusiastically and with great relief, that all these years later this story still resonates. In fact, I think it means even more to me as an adult. There are layers to it that I couldn’t appreciate as a child. These include the parents’ relationship, and realizing what a difficult choice it is for them to decide whether or not to get back together.
I was able to watch it with a special appreciation for the parent/child relationships present, which I never paid much attention to when I was younger.
There are messages to this movie that I never realized — including that sometimes you can get everything you want, career-wise, but it means sacrificing important things… including the love of your life.
I’m here to report, enthusiastically and with great relief, that all these years later this story still resonates.
But I think the reason I loved this movie so much as a child, and again as an adult, is because it’s inherently hopeful. It’s about making friends with unlikely people, finding your way back to someone you thought you lost, and the importance of family.
To me, The Parent Trap was and will always be, a classic. A mainstay. A movie I hope I’ll be able to watch and cherish in another 15 years and learn something new from it, just like I did this time.
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