UltimateDisney.com's Top 30 Live Action Disney Movies Countdown
3. The Parent Trap (1961) (1961)

One of the highlights of The Parent Trap is that there are so many richly developed characters, courtesy of David Swift's excellent script and a cast of talented performers. All the main characters are great fun, but what brings the film a step above are the supporting characters, such as the delightful minister character who enjoys every bit of the domestic squabbling he sees; Verbena, who never speaks a word; the grandmotherly Miss Inch; and even the stiff head of the boys' camp. Each character is milked for all the comic potential they are worth.

In addition to these great characters, there are so many hilarious comedy bits throughout the film that never fail to get a hearty laugh, such as when Susan gets the back of her dress cut out, when Sharon (as Susan) pretends to think her father wants to adopt Vicki, or when Mitch begins to explain about the birds and the bees to Sharon (as Susan). It's also a film that plays well for all audiences, both adults and kids. While it never panders to children, there is plenty of humor in the scenes between the parents to make the film a great laugh for all ages.

The Parent Trap also has heart. Despite a rich cast who gets to perform a genuinely funny script, there is something touching about the predicament of these characters. Mitch and Maggie are two people who are genuinely in love, and their final scene in which they admit to their past mistakes and confess their undying love for each other is both touching and romantic.

The Parent Trap is a smartly written, well cast, and well directed romantic comedy. And while it is of its era, because it is so enjoyable and truly hilarious, it is a timeless Disney classic.

-Jim Miles

When I was little, I was told by my mother that The Parent Trap starred Hayley Mills, along with her lesser-known twin sister, Hillary. I can't remember whether or not I believed her, nor for how long. In any case, The Parent Trap was a very important part of my life growing up. The film, although made in the 1960s, doesn't seem the least bit dated. Hayley gives such a believable performance as both Susan and Sharon, it is hard to remember that she didn't, in fact, share the screen with a look-alike. Even with all the technology used in films nowadays, few are capable of recreating the charm of this Disney classic.


Ever wanted to switch places with someone? How about having an evil twin? Ok, how about just having a twin? Imagine you have a twin you didn't know about. Seems illogical in this day and age, but I'm told it happens...

People who are fans of recent Disney films know that the so-called "Dis-functional family" has become a part of their storytelling fabric (Lilo and Stitch; the adolescent rebellion of Treasure Planet; and even Brother Bear to some extent). In 1961, however, a far more conservative Disney released this tale of divorce and the separation and reunion of twins, and inevitably their parents. Both non-conventional and surprisingly sexy (in the relationship between Brian Keith and Maureen O'Hara) for a Disney film of this era, Parent Trap is one of those few films you can watch again and again, and still be entertained as much as you were th first time around.

Then there is the matter of the special effects. While some may be mistaken for thinking that they'd cloned Hayley Mills (it's possible!!!), the visual trickery of the split-screen effect (pioneered in this film, no less) that brought the twins to life on screen can't be matched by any digital, or dodgy twin movie of the 80s (you know, where the "twin" is filmed from the back, three feet taller and has a different hair colour...). In fact, the only weaknesses in the special effects are not in the twin scenes, but rather is simple shots, where the characters are obviously sitting on a lot with an image projected behind them.

Despite spawning 3 sequels and a remake, all charming in their own way, the original Parent Trap remains unblemished. Perhaps it was the The fact that the remake of this film has also made the Top 30 list (albeit, a little further down the ranks) is a testament to the lasting quality of this simple, yet timeless, story.

-Dr. Richard Gray

The Parent Trap may be extremely contrived in its plot, but it works so well that you don't care. The story is fresh and has been often imitated, but never duplicated (save for the 1998 remake). Hayley Mills does a fine job playing twins Sharon and Susan, even if her accents and mannerisms are terribly defined. The film boasts a fine script that mixes various comedy styles as well as romantic and dramatic moments seamlessly. It also contains excellent split screen effects that hold up perfectly well today. Everything about the film is energetic and lively and is one of the crown jewels of live action Disney. Plus with a fun number like "Let's Get Together," it's rather hard not to like such an optimistic little film like this.

-Kelvin Cedeno

I have been thinking for about a week what I like most about The Parent Trap. I remember this movie from when I was a kid; it was one of the first Disney movies I had seen. When I look back at my childhood, this one of the movies I remember. I remember going to the video store and renting it, much to the dismay of my mother, because I wanted to see it over and over again. As an adult when I watch it again I catch my self singing along with the songs and hoping that the ending will be happy, (even after watching it for the hundredth time), because it always seems new to me.

The Parent Trap tells the story of twins separated at birth and reunited at summer camp. When they arrive at camp they don't realize they are sisters until several pranks and a very funny food fight happen and they are forced to stay together as penance for their bad deed. After they come to the realization they are twins, they plot to meet the other parent they have never seen before. But the twins are very different: one is a tomboy from California, the other is a prissy girl from England. They teach each other how to act and when camp ends they trade places. Once they are in each others lives, the dad (brilliantly played by Brian Keith), reveals to his daughter that he plans on getting married. The twins then plots to get their mother there to break up the wedding.

The movie is filled with great music and is funny and heartwarming. Hayley Mills is great as the twins. She plays each side of the girls wonderfully. Maureen O'Hara is sweet and charming as the mother of the twins.

This is a great movie for all families. It has so many wonderful elements. It's one that will last for many more years to come.

-Monica Smith

DVD Details
Disney's double-disc 2002 Vault Disney release of The Parent Trap was one of the studio's finest DVD sets ever released. The film looked and sounded great, and there were hours of extra features. But that could be said for any potent DVD release. What distinguished The Parent Trap's DVD is that the hours of bonus features were genuinely and thoroughly entertaining and rewarding to revisit like the classic film itself. Nonetheless, to reach those who adopted the DVD format late, the Vault Disney DVD was discontinued in the middle of 2005 to make way for a two-disc 2-Movie Collection with The Parent Trap, its 1986 made-for-TV sequel The Parent Trap II, and all of the Vault Disney's extras except audio commentary and cartoon short.
Buy The Parent Trap & The Parent Trap II: 2-Movie Collection
Read the The Parent Trap: 2-Movie Collection DVD Review
Buy The Parent Trap (2-Disc Vault Disney) (Out of Print)
Read The Parent Trap: Vault Disney DVD Review
Buy The Parent Trap (1998): Special Double Trouble Edition DVD
Read The Parent Trap (1998): Special Double Trouble Edition DVD Review
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