In our first Flashback Friday session, we’ll be diving into 1998’s The Parent Trap and discovering the Double Trouble making schemes of Hallie Parker and Annie James.
In 1998’s The Parent Trap, Hallie Parker and Annie James come from two different worlds. Hallie was raised by her father in California. Annie was raised by her mother in London. Little do Nick and Liz realise, they’ve sent their daughters to the same summer camp.
While Hallie struggles to get her duffel bag out of a pile of bags, Annie arrives in a limo flanked by the James family butler, Martin. Later in the film, we learn Hallie has a similar bond with Parker housekeeper, Chessy who is like the mother she never knew.
With both Annie and Hallie at camp, it causes confusion with the Camp directors. The girls become rivals with the rivalry becoming so intense, a prank war erupts. When a prank backfires, the girls are sent to the Isolation cabin for the remainder of the camp. After a while, the tension between them dies down and they become civil upon discovering how much they have in common.
After discovering they’re twins, Annie and Hallie lay in bed, talking. Hallie suddenly comes up with switching lives.
Annie is reluctant but comes around to the idea. The next day, the newfound sisters teach each other about their lives through the use of photos. Annie ‘introduces’ Hallie to their mother, grandfather, and Martin, which Hallie finds astonishing that he’s their butler. Hallie walks Annie through the layout of the Parker house and tells her they don’t use the dining room unless it’s a special occasion. Annie teaches her sister the special handshake she and Martin used.
The next step in their plan is to change Annie’ appearance. Since Hallie has short hair and pierced ears, she has to cut her sister’s hair and pierce her ears, much to the horror of Annie.
Homeward Bound – Hallie
At the end of Camp, Annie and Hallie go over the last-minute details before a limo takes Hallie to the airport.
Once she arrives in London, Hallie meets Martin at the airport. The butler is surprised at his beloved Annie’s new hair and pierced ears. Hallie feels a little awkward to the situation but is quick to cover it up.
Hallie arrives with Martin at the James house and is awestruck at the majestic might of the house. Waiting for her mother, she walks into her grandfather’s study where she smells him to make a memory of him. Upon hearing her mother’s voice, she hurries out in the hall and sees Liz walking down the stairs.
While coming tea with Liz, Hallie gets the shock of her life when Martin enters with her stuffed rabbit toy, Cuppy. Martin asks if he should dispose of him, but Hallie jumps in and says she’ll ‘mail’ the toy to her ‘friend’. The phone rings and Liz answers it, giving Hallie time to look at the wedding dress designs she’s drawn. Liz asks Hallie if she’d accompany her to the photo studio.
Homeward Bound – Annie
Annie arrives at Napa Airport where she is greeted by her father. Nick notes something’s different about her but Annie brushes it off without revealing she’s not Hallie. In her excited state, she says ‘dad’ at the end of every sentence. She explains to Nick that fathers are important in a girl’s life and it must be hard for some people to grow up without a father in their lives.
Nick and Annie arrive at the Parker home where they’re greeted by Sammy the family dog and Chessy, who also notices something different. Sammy runs out and barks to Chessy’s confusion. Nick enters and tells Annie to find him when she’s done because there’s someone he wants her to meet.
Annie asks Chessy who the woman is outside. Chessy tries to skirt around the question but tells her that the woman’s name is Meredith Blake. She adds more, saying Meredith is a publicist from San Francisco who Nick hired to do publicity for the vineyard. From the way Chessy talks, Meredith loves Nick for his money. Annie grabs a camera and takes photos of Nick and Meredith’s romantic encounter.
Going outside, Annie meets Meredith for the first time. She comes across as nice, but something feels off. She listens to Meredith’s phone call as she gets ready to jump in the pool. Meredith attempts to bond with her, but Annie is standoffish. The secret gold digger tells Annie she has never heard a man talk about their daughter the way Nick talks about her. Annie jumps into the pool, getting Meredith wet.
While talking about Hallie’s horse, Annie tells Meredith about the 411 on the other women Nick has dated, hoping to throw her off dating her father.
Annie’s Call To London
Back in London, the phone rings at the James house and Martin picks it up and hears the real Annie’s voice. He calls to Hallie to take the call and is surprised at how similar she sounds to Hallie, not knowing it’s actually Annie.
Annie stands the bathroom in the Parker house while Hallie hides in a coat closet as they talk. She goes on about their mother is until Annie tells her to stop and she needs to get Liz to America straight away. She explains in a rush that Nick has fallen in love with Meredith.
Hallie tries to suggest ways of getting Meredith out of the picture, but Annie tells her she has tried everything and needs her help. Nothing wanting to give up time with Liz, Hallie fakes a bad phone connection and hangs up. As she crawls out of the closet, she comes face-to-face with her mother, grandfather, and Martin. She lies through her teeth, explaining she was talking to a friend and it was an old camp tradition to talk inside a closet.
Breakfast Time With Chessy
The next morning, Annie sits in the kitchen as Chessy sits breakfast down. When she doesn’t eat, Chessy worries she’s sick. After reassuring her she’s fine, Annie asks where Nick is. The housekeeper tells her he and Meredith left to do business and they didn’t want to wake her. Chessy then mentions the mysterious phone calls from the bathroom.
Annie tells her she was talking to her friend Mildred from camp and she was living in New York. Chessy tries to work out the time difference and says it makes perfect sense for her to call Mildred at 3am. Annie says Mildred was on vacation in Bora Bora. Not believing her, Chessy tells Annie Nick wants to see her in his office. Annie rushes off, only for Sammy to bark at her again. Chessy watches her, confused.
Talks With Dad
In the vineyard storehouse, Nick tells Annie he’s glad she came to talk to him and wants to talk about Meredith. Annie declares she wants to talk about her mother. Nick tries to avoid the conversation, but Annie makes the point she’s almost 12 and says she needs a mother in her life.
Nick agrees as they step outside and find Meredith has arrived with her assistant. She suggests having lunch on the terrace and asks Nick if he ‘told her’. Nick says he almost told Hallie and that he and Hallie were planning on hanging out. Meredith, not phased, tells them it’s fine. As she climbs back into the buggie, she tells her assistant the first thing she wants to do is send Hallie to boarding school. This suggests she’s jealous of Hallie and wants Nick to herself.
Nick and Annie go out riding with Nick attempting to tell his daughter something about him and Meredith. Annie cuts him off and rides her horse back to the house.
Caught Out And Nick’s Engagement News
Thinking she’s safe, Annie converts back to her British accent but is heard by Chessy. Chessy questions why Sammy won’t go near her now and why her appetite’s suddenly different to what she remembers. She adds that ‘Hallie’ is now neat and uses expressions she wouldn’t normally.
Annie tells her she’s changed over the summer. Chessy goes to say something but stops herself. Annie coax her to speak. Annie guesses what Chessy was about to say and the housekeeper turns around in surprise when Annie guesses correctly.
A moment later, Nick walks in looking for his daughter. He asks why Chessy is looking at ‘Hallie’ in shock. Chessy denies she is and breaks down into tears as she hugs Annie. Nick pulls Annie aside and finally tells her he and Meredith are about to get married.
Annie, shocked, jumps up and begins curse at Nick in French. Nick is surprised by this and asks if something’s wrong. Annie runs off, upset. Nick is flabbergasted by what has occurred and looks up to see Chessy has seen everything.
Annie Discovers Meredith’s True Nature And Hallie Reveals Herself
Meredith goes to talk to Annie, revealing what she’s like. Annie was never fooled by Meredith’s kind-hearted nature and could see through her as easily as Chessy could. She questions whether Meredith only wants Nick’s money. Meredith tells her she’s marrying Nick in two weeks and her soon-to-be stepdaughter will deal with it or suffer.
In London, Hallie is eating with Liz and her grandfather when a fax comes through from Annie of a dog (Sammy) barking 911. Martin intercepts it and is confused. As Martin walks past her, Hallie tries to see what the message says but falls off her chair. She excuses herself and leaves the house, heading for the closest payphone. Her grandfather follows her. Ringing Annie, Hallie learns about their father’s pending nuptials and realises she needs to act fast. As she goes to leave the phone, she bumps into her grandfather; her cover now blown.
Hesitant to reveal the truth to Liz, her grandfather gives her encouragement. Liz is shocked to learn the daughter under her covers is Hallie and not Annie. Hallie reveals she and Annie met at camp worked everything out on their own. She agrees with Liz they need to put everything right even if it means giving up time with Liz. In the doorway, Liz and Hallie see Martin sobbing at what he’s witnessed.
Liz’s Freak Out
Liz suffers a mild meltdown when she realises she’s about to see Nick for the first time in over ten years. Hallie eavesdrops on Liz’s freak out, trying to keep a straight face. She walks in to find her mother’s suitcase is empty. Liz asks if she’s spoken to Nick.
Hallie lies and says she has. She tells her mother where they’re supposed to be meeting Nick and Annie. Liz tells her to go get their tickets from her grandfather. As she leaves the room, Martin whispers: “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Hallie turns to him and threatens to kill him if he doesn’t remain silent.
Liz asks Martin to accompany in which he says he would be more than happy to. He even offers her fashion advice.
Double Trouble Equals Twin Trap
At the hotel, Meredith prepares her parents to meet Nick. Her parents talk, they love money as much as their little girl does. Meredith isn’t thrilled when Nick shows up with Annie, Chessy, and Sammy but hides it when Nick shows up. She goes to pat Sammy, but he tries to bite her.
Arriving at the hotel, Martin helps Liz and Hallie out of the car and finds Liz has gotten herself drunk. Hallie has a minor freak out of her own knowing she’s in trouble.
Back inside, Meredith talks with her parents, Nick, Chessy, Annie and Sammy about the wedding. Sammy picks up on Hallie’s scent and pulls Chessy and Annie in her direction.
Elsewhere, Martin, Liz, and Hallie enter a lift when Liz realises she’s forgotten her bag. Close by, Sammy’s trail towards Hallie grows stronger as he pulls Chessy and Annie closer. Hallie sees Sammy and calls to him prompting the pooch to pull free of his lead and towards her.
Liz finds Annie, thinking she’s Hallie due to her intoxicated state. Annie tells her she needs air and goes to head back to her room when she runs into a man carrying flowers.
Nick and Meredith are getting touchy feely as they go to climb into a lift when Nick looks over Meredith’s shoulder and sees Liz who waves, despite her drunk state.
The Parent Trap… Foiled?
A furious Liz calls for Hallie to come out of the room when doors on opposite sides of the hall open revealing Hallie and Annie. Liz reunites with Annie while pulling Hallie into the embrace.
Liz lectures the girls on their plan. She tells them she saw Nick in the lift, which went against their plan for them to see each other before they were ready. When Chessy and Martin act cagey, Liz realises they were in on the plan too and pulls them up on it. They try denying it but they cave to Liz’s hard stare.
Upon her faith being broken, Liz tells the girls, Chessy, and Martin she and Nick have nothing in common. She orders the girls to tell their father the only reason she is there is to switch the two of them back, thus ending the double trouble antics.
Pulling A Fast One On Meredith
Meredith runs into Liz at a bar. It takes her a moment to realise who Liz is and geeks out when she works it out.
Meanwhile, Nick ends up running into his future in-laws at the pool when he sees Liz walking down the steps. He goes to talk to her when he becomes distracted and ends up in the pool. Liz sees the whole incident and pair meet for the first time. Nick is surprised that Liz isn’t surprised to see him. Annie appears and reveals she’s not Hallie. Hallie pops up and reveals who she is.
Annie explains what happened at the camp while Liz reveals the twins switched places. Nick tells them he’s not mad at them for switching places and is happy they know about the other. Liz sends them way so she and Nick can talk about what happened.
Liz helps Nick with a cut he sustained when he landed in the pool. They talk when Meredith finds them. Meredith becomes confused how Nick and Liz know each other and how her fiancée ended up wet.
Meredith shrieks when Hallie and Annie reveal that they’re twins. Hallie introduces herself as the real Hallie and reveals Nick never told her she was a twin either and that Liz is their mother.
Tension With Meredith
Liz and Nick talk about what will happen to the girls and their living arrangements. They settle on Hallie spending Christmas with her mother while Annie will spend Easter with Nick.
The girls appear wearing almost identical clothing. Their aim of this exercise is to get their parents to go on the annual Parker camping trip together, but there’s a catch. They swap identities again and won’t reveal who is who until after the camping trip.
As expected, Meredith is unhappy with the arrangement. When she sees Liz, she doesn’t like her fiancée being with his ex-wife. Liz, wanting Meredith to feel more comfortable, invites her on the trip. Nick has no choice but to oblige. Liz then opts to remain back at the house with Chessy and bask in Meredith’s hatred for nature.
The girls are unimpressed to learn their soon-to-be stepmother will join them on their trip instead of their mother. Nick cautions them to be nice to their displeasure. They protest when Liz reveals she’s not going with them. She tells Meredith she needs to get used to having the girls around because after she and Nick are married, she’ll have the girls half the time.
For the whole trip, the girls pull prank after prank on Meredith. From rocks in her backpack to almost swallowing a lizard, the girls push the gold digger over the edge.
Tired of her soon-to-be stepdaughters’s games, Meredith threatens to make their lives hell before and after she marries their father. That night, the girls pull the ultimate prank. They pull a sleeping Meredith’s mattress out onto the water where it floats to the middle of the lake.
When she awakens the next morning, Meredith freaks out and ends up treading water. Emerging from the water, Meredith orders Nick to choose between her and the girls. He chooses the girls, and she flies into a rage, throwing something at his head.
Nick and the girls return home without Meredith. Liz asks how it went with the girls responding that they’ve been grounded because they pulled pranks on Meredith to the point she freaked out. Nick tells Liz he’s thankful to the girls for getting rid of his fiancé.
Wine Cellar Moment And Last Moments As A Family?
Nick takes Liz down to his private wine cellar where he shows her a bottle they had at their wedding. They go to share a kiss but the moment is ruined when Chessy and Martin return home.
The time comes for Nick to say his goodbyes to Annie while Liz says goodbye to Hallie. Nick and Liz say their own goodbyes while Chessy and Martin do the same.
London Calling And Happily Ever After
Liz and Annie return home to London to find the house quiet. When Liz goes to check her father’s study, she finds Hallie instead of her father. Annie enters to find her sister in their grandfather’s chair. Hallie explains she and Nick didn’t want to lose them again. Liz and Nick share a kiss, the twins’ plan having worked.
The couple get remarried with the girls and their families there to celebrate with them. Martin and Chessy get engaged while the girls get their wish to have their parents back together.
Having grown up with this movie, my favourite moment has always been where Hallie and Annie drag Meredith’s mattress out onto the lake and her reaction afterward. It always cracked me as a kid because it was so perfectly planned especially after everything the girls put her through.
6 Fun Facts About… The Parent Trap
- The character names for Lindsay Lohan’s two characters were taken from the real-life daughters of director Nancy Meyer and then-husband Charles Shyer whose names are Hallie and Annie.
- The woman who plays Meredith’s mother played the golddigger fiancé in the 1961, The Parent Trap. There’s a fan theory that claims the characters are the same as they share the same first name
- Lindsay Lohan’s mother, brothers, and sister appear in the film. One of her brothers played the boy who ended up at the girls summer camp and took part in the Fencing activity where he fenced Hallie
- The moment where Liz and Hallie walk across the crossing in London mirrors the cover of The Beatles album Abbey Road.
- When Annie and Hallie tell their mother about Nick marrying Meredith, they call her [Meredith] Cruella De Vil. Natasha Richardson’s sister, Joely starred in the live-action 101 Dalmatians as Anita who was working for Cruella Devil, played by Glenn Close.
- Tragically, Natasha Richardson died 11 years after the release of the film after suffering a severe head injury in a skiing accident.
The film in next week’s Flashback Friday will be the animated Mulan.