The Parent Trap: 6 Things That Don't Make Any Sense About The Lindsay Lohan Movie

Annie and Hallie realizing they're twins.

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The Parent Trap has all the trappings of a beloved Disney movie. This 1998 Nancy Meyers-directed remake of the 1961 movie starring Hayley Mills saw Lindsay Lohan (soon to be back on our screens in an upcoming Netflix movie) playing twin sisters Hallie and Annie so convincingly that many people, including myself, didn’t realize it was one actress at the time. Between the plucky adolescents, sugary sweet love story, and the Alan Silvestri score, The Parent Trap is a near perfect Disney movie. But there are a few weird details that have always stood out to me, including the ethics of child rearing and just how messed up Camp Walden for Girls actually was, so let’s take a look.

Elizabeth and Nick part ways at the hotel.

The Bonkers Custody Arrangement

Woman and man meet on boat. Woman and man get married on boat. Woman and man have twin daughters. Woman and man get divorced. Woman and man each decide to take one twin daughter, never speak to each other again, and never tell their daughters that they have a sister. Wait, what? Please find me a single divorce attorney or judge that would ever, ever sign off on such an insane custody arrangement. What would possess a set of parents to hide a sibling from the other child?

I know it’s a Disney movie but this is the sort of thing that messes you up for life and keeps you in therapy for a long, long time. Also, Nick and Elizabeth don’t even bother making up some story to their kids that the other parent died heroically or something, they’re just never allowed to talk about them or visit them or know anything about them. There’s a gritty, Ari Aster-led A24 reboot in here somewhere.

Lisa Ann Walter as Chessy

What Is Chessy’s Job?

Yes I know, Chessy self describes herself to Martin, the James’ Butler as Nick’s butler. But she’s chilling in some amazing head-to-toe denim casual wear back at the vineyard; is this how butlers in wine country show up to work? Also, when Chessy loses it when she realizes Hallie is actually Annie and remembers her coming home from the hospital, so clearly she was hired pre-birth of the children? Was Nick such a high powered wine merchant that he needed a full-time, live-in butler? Was something else going on there? Lot of late nights and a lot of wine surrounding them is all I’m saying.

All the furniture on the roof as the prank war intensifies.

How Did 10 And 11 Year Old Kids Move Furniture Onto The Roof Of A Cabin?

After the thrilling fencing match in which Annie bests Hallie, (seriously name me a more memorable fencing scene committed to the silver screen, I’ll wait) the still-don’t-realize-they’re-twins girls begin an escalating series of pranks on each other. First, after Hallie whips Annie’s tush at poker Annie loses the bet and has to skinny dip in the lake, where Hallie and her friends end up stealing Annie’s clothes. The next day, Hallie and her friends go back to their cabin to discover all of their stuff is on the roof.

We’re talking three twin beds, complete with their frames. We’re talking about a big, honking storage chest. We’re talking Hallie’s big yellow duffle that only tie-dye girl could yank from the bottom of the heap! Setting aside the fact that there’s no way a bunch of 10-year-old kids could pull this off, how did they do it undetected? Was there no adult supervision to stop them from doing this? Also, it must be said, but Annie did cuppie really dirty putting him on a pike on top of the roof.

Maggie Wheeler and Polly Holliday as The Marvas

Did They Really Put Two 10 Year-olds Under House Arrest In The Middle Of The Forest For The Rest Of Camp Without Any Supervision?

After the prank war comes to a head with the Marvas tarred and feathered, the girls are sent to the isolation cabin (you are picturing Maggie Wheeler’s finger point, aren’t you?). It’s exactly what it sounds like. As punishment these mortal enemies (who still do not realize they are IDENTICAL TWINS) must spend the remainder of camp stuck inside together which seems to be deep in the woods away from the rest of camp. Don’t these parents pay good money for this camp? Can they just force two kids together and basically put them in camp jail? Should you leave two kids who are seemingly sworn enemies by themselves without any supervision? Did the camp never call the parents to let them know what was happening? I’d be asking for my money back if I was Nick Parker or Elizabeth James.

Lindsay Lohan saying goodbye to... Lindsay Lohan.

What 11-Year-Old Is Game To Hop On A Plane And Trade Places With Essentially Complete Strangers?

I know they’re both excited to (finally) realize they’re twins and are now curious about meeting their long lost parents, but would they really be this game to just take over the other’s life in other countries just to see their parents? When I was 10 I could barely use the bathroom at night without getting scared. Also, why the elaborate ruse? Can’t they just call up the parents and say hey what the heck is going on here? Also both girls are pretty well adjusted to the fact that their parents never told them they had a twin sister their entire lives.

Marva Jr. looking confused at the twins.

Did The Camp Really Not Bat An Eyelash At Identical Twins Seemingly Not Recognizing Each Other?

You may have noticed me hammering on this a bit, because it’s absolute insanity. This is some Mugatu, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills stuff we’re talking about. The likelihood of identical twins ending up at the same summer camp and seemingly having no knowledge of the other’s existence is a one in a billion shot. Add onto that they both have no clue who the other is, or that they might even be related. What does the camp do with this turn of events? Literally nothing. They go about normal camp business as if this isn’t the craziest situation of their careers. What. The. Heck.

Hallie's enormous house.

Odds And Ends

Two things that don’t necessarily fall into the don’t make sense category, but it’s my bully pulpit and I’ve been waiting 23 years to get this off my chest. On the DVD cover to the movie, there are two stills of the girls that are supposed to be one of Hallie and one of Annie. BUT! Both stills are actually of Annie. Yeah, you can’t put that toothpaste back in the tube. Also, no one ever brings up the fact that both parents are casually very wealthy. Elizabeth is a famous wedding dress designer, Nick owns a large vineyard operation. How much does it cost to rent out a yacht for a private dinner? These do not affect the plot at all in any way, but everyone’s just zipping around in Land Rovers and getting driven around in Rolls Royces.

None of this stops The Parent Trap from being an instant classic of an already classic story. Lindsay Lohan might have a lot of baggage in her adult years, but she really does carry this movie playing two different characters. Dennis Quaid (father of Jack, soon to be seen in the upcoming Scream 5) is a total DILF in this movie, and this will always be one of the late Natasha Richardson’s most indelible roles. You can stream The Parent Trap on Disney Plus or purchase from Amazon Prime Video.

Jeremy Lacey

Never not rewatching Mad Men. Lover of comic books and all things related. I spend most of my free time giving medicine to my geriatric cat.