Natasha Richardson

The Parent Trap (1998, Nancy Meyers)

Where to start with The Parent Trap. There’s the structure–Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer split their script into three distinct parts. Well, maybe even three and a half. There’s the opening where Lindsay Lohan goes to summer camp and meets her twin. Then there’s the part where the twins meet the opposite parents–I’m not explaining The Parent Trap, you should know these things–and then there’s the third part, where everyone gets together.

Only, towards the end, the movie all of a sudden becomes a romance between Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson (as the parents). Meyers deftly shifts from the kids–sorry, Lohan–being the protagonist–protagonists–to turning Quaid into the lead. Richardson has a lot more to do on her own for a bit, which seems to be part of how Meyers pulls it off. She introduces the idea of a floating protagonist label so it’s easier to assign it to Quaid.

But there’s also the technical marvel part of the film. The effects with Lohan are outstanding. The Parent Trap is a special effects extravaganza; Dean Cundey lights it all perfectly, Meyers directs it perfectly.

Of course, the film only works because of Lohan and her ability to create two entirely different characters who not only look alike, but also sound alike for much of the film. Meyers’s direction of Lohan is phenomenal.

The excellent supporting performances from Lisa Ann Walter, Simon Kunz and Elaine Hendrix are essential.

The Parent Trap is a fantastic film.

3.5/4★★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Nancy Meyers; screenplay by David Swift, Meyers and Charles Shyer, based on a novel by Erich Kästner; director of photography, Dean Cundey; edited by Stephen A. Rotter; music by Alan Silvestri; production designer, Dean Tavoularis; produced by Shyer; released by Walt Disney Pictures.

Starring Lindsay Lohan (Hallie Parker / Annie James), Dennis Quaid (Nick Parker), Natasha Richardson (Elizabeth James), Elaine Hendrix (Meredith Blake), Lisa Ann Walter (Chessy), Simon Kunz (Martin), Polly Holliday (Marva Kulp Sr.), Maggie Wheeler (Marva Kulp Jr.), Ronnie Stevens (Grandfather James) and Joanna Barnes (Vicki Blake).


Blow Dry (2001, Paddy Breathnach)

At ninety minutes and change, Blow Dry is too short. Given the complexities of the ground situation’s character relationships and then the character’s arcs throughout the picture, it could easily run two and a half hours.

The concept, which at first blush seems sensational but turns out not to be, has Natasha Richardson and Rachel Griffiths as a couple who own a salon in a small English town. Alan Rickman–as Richardson’s ex-husband–has a barber shop with their son, played by Josh Hartnett. Rickman doesn’t speak to the two women (whose business is next to his) and Hartnett’s got a dysfunctional relationship with both parents, not to mention Griffiths.

The beauty parts of Blow Dry come when these characters have to get together and sort it out. Sadly, it only happens once as a group but it’s an amazing scene. The little scenes when a couple come together are always good, but there’s never enough of it. The film’s MacGuffin is a hair cutting competition in the small town and a lot of time goes towards it. Too much, but those scenes are still pretty well done.

They just aren’t sublime.

Richardson and Griffiths are outstanding. Rickman’s good (though he has little to do). Hartnett occasionally loses his accent, but his earnestness holds the performance together. As the bad guy hair dresser, Bill Nighy is great. As Nighy’s daughter (and Hartnett’s love interest), Rachael Leigh Cook is awful.

It’s busy and loud but quite funny and genuinely sincere.

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Paddy Breathnach; written by Simon Beaufoy; director of photography, Cian de Buitléar; edited by Tony Lawson; music by Patrick Doyle; production designer, Sophie Becher; produced by William Horberg, Ruth Jackson and David Rubin; released by Miramax Films.

Starring Natasha Richardson (Shelley), Alan Rickman (Phil), Rachel Griffiths (Sandra), Josh Hartnett (Brian), Bill Nighy (Ray Robertson), Hugh Bonneville (Louis), Rachael Leigh Cook (Christina Robertson), Warren Clarke (Tony) and Rosemary Harris (Daisy).


Scroll to Top