Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Another Parent Trap

Every male who as ever seen Disney’s 1961 version of “The Parent Trap” has fallen in love with Hayley Mills. There’s no way you could get around it. Who wouldn’t fall for the girl with a big grin bouncing back and forth with her hands innocently behind her back as she sings “Let’s Get Together, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah”?

Even girls would have to admit that Brian Keith would make a really cool dad in his country ranch house in northern California. I honestly believe that this is one of the most perfect live-action movies Disney ever created — with the possible exception of “Mary Poppins”.

So why in the name of Walt did the Disney studio believe that this gem needed to be re-made in 1998? Oh, I know. Let’s make money with a proven product. Yeah. Well, I’ll have no part of it. When the new version came out, I had absolutely no interest in it. Nothing was going to mess with my perfect image of Hayley’s Susan and Sharon.

Nothing, that is, until it showed up on cable tv and my son wanted me to watch it with him. No, no, no, don’t watch that  version! Let’s rent the real  one. You know ... Hayley!

Nope he wanted to watch this one. So I relented.

Actually, it wasn’t too bad. This one was a launching pad for Lindsay Lohan in the dual role of Hallie and Annie. This was a pre-teen Lindsay, when her hair was really red and her freckles actually frecked. She definitely showed promise as an actress. She even hummed a few bars of “Let’s Get Together” in homage to Hayley.

The most remarkable piece of acting was that she pulled off a proper British accent for Annie. In the original movie, Hayley’s British accent was never really explained. Heck, it just added to her charm. In the new version, Annie was raised in London by her mother while Hallie was raised in California by her father. Lindsay did a wonderful job of switching accents seamlessly.

And, of course, technical standards have improved greatly in the last 45 years. Whereas Susan and Sharon’s shots seemed rather contrived and stilted, Annie and Hallie interacted with each other in front of a panning, zooming, and tracking camera with perfect ease. It’s amazing what they can do with electrons in Hollywood these days.

But dangit. Some things just shouldn’t be messed with. Just ask the guys who remade “The Poseidon Adventure”. The ship only overturned but the movie sank quicker than the Titanic. And remember that shot-for-shot re-do of “Psycho”? Sicko.

So Lindsay pulled it off and went on her way to a very successful career in the process — re-working “Freaky Friday” and “The Love Bug” along the way.

But I really wish the suits in Hollywood would realize that some things — such as fond memories in an old man’s heart — are really just better left alone.

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