You’d be forgiven if, upon viewing the seminal film that made remakes relevant, you concluded that Hallie Parker is the better twin in The Parent Trap (1998). After all, her haircut is the twins’ template, she has an enviable way of cocking her sunglasses, and, in our fraught times, some would say excelling at poker is a more applicable skill than fencing. Not to mention: If you have to announce whether or not you have class, chances are you’re delusional. And Hallie’s cooler – in an I don’t have impulse control kind of way.
But what about “classy” Annie James? Despite some unfortunate sartorial decisions that make her look like a Connecticut housewife at a charity luncheon, Annie has a much more impressive roster of accomplishments. She is, in fact, the better twin.
Hallie is a meanie. While both twins are refreshingly aggressive in a manner uncommon to films geared toward preteen girls, Hallie has a very un-California attitude. First, the separated-at-birth twins have a rousing fencing match (which my older brother informs me is entirely unrealistic) that Annie wins by accidentally pushing Hallie into a water trough (?!?). Hallie then behaves like a very sore loser by pulling Annie in with her, at which point they come face to face for the first time. They’re both shocked. Hallie, however, takes this opportunity to show her insecurity and read Annie for filth. Later on, when Hallie’s excessive posters are flying off the walls because of a rainstorm, Annie doesn’t hesitate to help her close the offending window. Honestly, their antagonism in the first part of the film is all Hallie’s fault, which is great for the story but also makes her kind of a dick.
Annie gets her ears pierced with A NEEDLE AND ICE. Can we just focus on this for a second? Sure, in my seven years of summer camp, we got up to some shenanigans. We did the hair cutting thing, the mixing gross foods thing, the spraying fire with deodorant to make dragon breath thing. But not once did anyone suggest piercing any part of our bodies. Hallie seems so confident when she asks for the apple and then holds the needle in a lighter for not nearly long enough. All that posturing belies that in fact she has no idea what she’s doing. In possibly the preeminent body horror image of my childhood, we get to see her barely take aim before plunging a thick needle through Annie’s ear. Then we get that ear-splitting scream.
Does Hallie go through this gauntlet of pain? No. She doesn’t. All she has to do is learn the super-secret handshake with Martin, which is actually an honor. (My aforementioned brother, who was 18 at the time we saw this movie, promptly got up from the couch and made me learn said super-secret handshake. It was performed tens of times in the Ungar household before being retired.) Meanwhile, MVP Annie is over there possibly contracting tetanus.
Hallie can posture all she likes about French wine. Annie actually knows French. She knows so much French that she starts spitting it out in stressful situations like a belligerent Pepé Le Pew. What other language does Hallie speak? Give Annie five years and you’ll probably find her traipsing unchaperoned through Paris, while Hallie is likely trying to get a tattoo in Venice Beach. Looks like the only side benefit to an Electra complex is coming up with ingenious ways to make cute blonde usurpers suffer.
Annie sees Miss Meredith Blake and immediately makes a judgment call: This woman sucks. Using her newfound father-daughter spidey senses, she already deduced that Meredith is a danger to the operation. In all fairness, at first glance Meredith is pretty affable. Meredith wants to get to know “Hallie” because Hallie is important to her boyfriend. She asks about camp and tries to get to know her better. Her only sins during their first meeting are a little white lie about Nick’s availability for a charity event and being too sexy. That’s it! It isn’t until after a Swiss boarding school promise, a tiny infuriating bell, and a gold digging comment that her true nature is revealed. Annie sees through it, though, fighting on even when Hallie selfishly uses a candy wrapper to evade her. Nice try, Hallie. Ya done screwed up again.
In conclusion, Hallie Parker would do well to class up her act or forever on be relegated to the Danny DeVito designation in this relationship. Now if we could just get a Parent Trap II remake going (as well as III and IV, if we’re not being picky), a girl could really get her fix.
Parent Trap Week is an entire week dedicated to the 1998 iconic film, in honor of its 20th anniversary. See all the posts here.