Remade a few years prior by light-weight director Nancy Meyers, "The Parent Trap" is one of Disney's more entertaining live-action efforts, whether it be the original or the remake (the remake is a bit slower, the original has much worse music, take your pick.) The original film stars Haley Mills as Susan and Sharon, twins separated at birth who happen to run into each other at Summer camp. Never told of one another by their separated parents, the two suddenly decide to switch places for a while and see if they can both convince their parents to come back together.
Both slide into their respective situations after camp is over and both find that getting their parents back together is not quite as easy as they originally thought. The original film goes for the about the same somewhat ridiculous running time as the remake; in fact, the remake goes for about 10 more minutes. With a children's comedy/drama like this one, the film could use some considerable editing, as their are a lot of little conversations in both that seem pretty unnecessary.
While the length does cause both films to drag at times, the stars of each do their best to retain the audience's interest. Haley Mills is all wide-eyed enthusiasm as both girls in this film and Lindsey Lohan was cute and clever in the remake. The adults in both films are certainly not the focus, but they at least try their best to make their presence known.
Overall, this is a light-weight, fun picture that, while a bit overlong, is both entertaining and good-natured. The film is presented on DVD as one of Walt Disney's new "Vault Disney" collection titles; a 2-DVD affair with restored presentation of the film and additional supplemental features.
VIDEO: "The Parent Trap" is presented by Disney in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation has also been THX-Approved. For a 40-year-old picture, "The Parent Trap" really sparkles wonderfully in this new, fully restored transfer. While there are some minor flaws that appear here and there, the picture looks sharp and well-defined throughout the majority, save for a few darker scenes that appear slightly on the murky side.
As for the previously mentioned flaws, they don't include either pixelation or edge enhancement. Simply, the print used isn't without some minor instances of specks or dirt. Considering the age of the picture, I expected a bit more in the way of wear, so I was certainly pleased with the film's fresh appearance. While the split-screen effect also looks a bit rough, it's expected, given the extent of the effects abilities of the day.
The film's bright, vibrant color palette was pleasingly presented here, as colors still remained warm and nicely saturated throughout. This is very fine work from the studio, who has clearly put in time and effort to make this film appear fresh.
SOUND: Disney has decided to offer "The Parent Trap" with a new Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation. The original mono soundtrack has not been included, although I'd guess that this new 5.1 presentation isn't remarkably different, aside from some likely restoration to remove distortion or other negative aspects of the soundtrack's previous condition. The new soundtrack is still essentially mono, as well and rarely opens up. Audio quality was generally pleasant, if not as good as the image quality. The soundtrack remained crisp and clear with simple conversations and music, but some louder moments - such as the girls yelling at the camp early on - sounded more shrill than one might expect. Still, this is a fine soundtrack for a movie this old.
MENUS: The main menu is terrific, with clever and beautifully designed cut-out animation. The fully animated main menu of the second disc, leading the viewer down into the "vaults" is stunning.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director David Swift and actress Halley Mills. This is a terrific track and I'm surprised that the two are able to remember as many small details about the actors and the production as they are. There's also some funny moments; as one of the daughters and her mother walks away through the park, Mills remarks, "she looks like she's walking away with 'E.T.' " Swift also discusses in fine detail the kind of primitive special effects that were used throughout the movie. A very enjoyable and informative track.
Cartoon: The film was originally presented with a cartoon when it was in theaters. That Donald Duck cartoon, "Double Trouble", has been restored and presented before the film here. It can also be skipped over with the remote. It's an extremely nice addition though and should certainly be appreciated by completists and younger audiences alike.
Who's The Twin: This featurette leads off the second disc. It features an interview with Susan Henning-Shutte, who was the actress that viewers saw as the second "Haley Mills" when Mills couldn't do both of the characters via split-screen.
Production Archive: This section provides an animated production gallery, trailers and TV spots, an older featurette on the making of the title sequence, a featurette about the remarkable (for the time) visual effects, a featurette about Mills and an additional featurette about the director. DVD credits are also located here. Two additional sub-sections are also located here: "Audio Archive" and "Galleries"; audio archive provides songs and the radio spot, while the galleries section provides production stills, production art, advertising art, production documents, a screenplay excerpt and biographies.
Also: An eightteen minute retrospective documentary on the making of the film, as well as a music video of sorts for "Let's Get Together" (I'll be perfectly happy if I never hear that song again.) and a featurette on composers The Sherman Brothers.
Final Thoughts: "The Parent Trap" is a fun, light piece of entertainment that's carried well by the dual performance of Haley Mills. Disney has truly put together a terrific special edition, with good audio/video quality and supplements that can be enjoyed by all ages. Recommended.
The Film ***