Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Richie Rich, 1994, and The Parent Trap, 1998

Since I’m currently in the pre-production stage of a special issue of my newspaper, which goes to print Friday, I thought of missing Overlooked Films, Audio & Video at Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom. Besides, I haven't seen, for a long time now, any films that merit serious inclusion in the Tuesday meme. But then, I remembered the two films I saw again recently—action-comedy True Lies (1994) directed by James Cameron and family-comedy Richie Rich (1994) directed by Donald Petrie (Miss Congeniality)—and decided that the temptation to participate was too strong to ignore, whatever be the film.

This post is strictly not about True Lies, an action film about secret spies, a cloak-and-dagger adventure between a husband-wife, nuclear terrorists, a kidnapped girl, and a good dose of humour. The antics of US secret agent Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his wannabe secret agent wife Helen Tasker (Jamie Lee Curtis) are comical. Art Malik, the Pakistan-born British actor who plays Salim Abu Aziz, head of a ragtag bunch of clumsy terrorists, joins the party that also includes spy sidekick Albert Gibson (Tom Arnold) and skirt chaser Simon (Bill Paxton).

One liners too many: “You're fired!” Arnold Schwarzenegger
tells Art Malik before firing the missile.

In one ludicrous scene, Schwarzenegger takes off vertically in a US fighter plane to rescue his daughter Dana (Eliza Dushku) who has escaped from Malik and is hanging precariously from a giant tower crane high above ground. She drops down on to the nose of the plane and clings on to its windshield. Malik follows her swiftly and jumps on to its wing. A brief duel ensues before Malik finds himself hooked to one of the missiles. He looks, rather stupidly, at Schwarzenegger who has no qualms about firing the missile in the direction of a terrorist chopper hovering nearby.

True Lies is a downright silly movie, but very entertaining.

This post is really about Richie Rich and The Parent Trap (1998), the latter directed by Nancy Meyers (The Holiday). The two films are about two kids who must “rescue” their parents in two different situations.

In Richie Rich, Macaulay Culkin plays the poor little rich boy who must rescue his parents, Richard Rich (the affable Edward Herrmann) and Regina Rich (Christine Ebersole), from a scheming Rich Industries’ executive Lawrence Van Dough (John Larroquette) who is after the family vault, predictably, hidden away in the Rich version of Mount Rushmore called Mount Richmore.

As a kid I loved reading Richie Rich and other comics from the Harvey stable like Casper, Hot Stuff, Little Lotta, Wendy, Little Dot, Spooky, Little Audrey, and Sad Sack. Over the years I have formed a certain image of most comic book characters. So I wasn’t surprised when Macaulay Culkin as Richie Rich, Jonathan Hyde as his butler-bodyguard Cadbury, Michael McShane as Rich scientist Professor Keenbean, and Stephi Lineburg as his girlfriend Gloria failed to convince me. Dollar, the Rich dog, was okay. Irona, the robot-maid, was missing. The plot reflected the stories in many of the comics where Richard Rich is kidnapped by his enemies only to be rescued by Richie Rich and Cadbury with help from Professor Keenbean and his outlandish gadgets.

Disbelief is not something I lend easily to film adaptations of cartoons and comics.

In The Parent Trap, two twin girls, Hallie Parker and Annie James (Lindsay Lohan), are living separately with their divorced parents, Nick Parker (Dennis Quaid) and Elizabeth James (Natasha Richardson) in America and Britain, respectively. The girls, who have never been with each other since birth, meet at camp, discover they’re twins, and plot the grand reunion of their parents. They exchange places but their parents don’t know it.

There are some nice moments in the film; for instance, when Grandpa Charles James (Ronnie Stevens), the mother's father, and Chessy (Lisa Ann Walter), the father's maid, discover, separately, that the girls have switched places or when they play a nasty little prank on Meredith Blake (Elaine Hendrix), their father’s girlfriend, in order to drive a wedge between the two.


The Parent Trap is a delightful family drama. What worked for this film was the cute and precocious character of Lindsay Lohan and the on-screen chemistry between Quaid and Richardson who, as parents, decide to bury their past for the sake of their “innocent” girls. A nice, feel good movie.

I’m waiting for an opportunity to see the original version of Walt Disney’s The Parent Trap (1961) starring Hayley Mills as the teenage girl in a double role and Mitch Evers (Brian Keith) and Margaret ‘Maggie’ McKendrick (Maureen O'Hara) as the parents.

It’s sad that the once famous child stars, Culkin and Lohan, who set out to "rescue" their parents in the films, have since needed to be rescued in real life.

Back to work.

14 comments:

  1. I just adored The Parent Trap. I can watch it again this Christmas hopefully.

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    1. Mystica, I have seen THE PARENT TRAP more than once. I like it a lot.

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  2. I liked True Lies quite a lot. As you say, so ridiculous, but funny.

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    1. Charles, both Schwarzenegger and Lee Curtis were good on screen. It's actually more funny than one would think.

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  3. My nieces are twins so they loved THE PARENT TRAP - I prefer TRUE LIES, which is very silly but a nice spoof of GOLDFINGER - really enjoyed your post Prashant - what an unexpected combination of movies!

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    1. Thank you, Sergio. I didn't realise TRUE LIES was a spoof of GOLDFINGER. I'll have to see that one again and also try and watch some true classics for Overlooked Films.

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  4. Funny RICHIE RICH should come up. I just sent Megan a box of her old ARCHIE and RICHIE RICH comics. I love the original PARENT TRAP but I am a huge Hailey Mills fan.

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    1. Patti, I still occasionally read Archie comics though Richie Rich comics are hard to come by. I must see the original THE PARENT TRAP.

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  5. I saw TRUE LIES a long time ago, Prashant. Hadn't though of it in years, but you're right. It wasn't bad at all. I like Jamie Lee Curtis especially. I also like Art Malik but after his wonderful turn in THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN, he's gone to play mostly bad guys and it's really a shame. He can do so much more. The other films you talk about are not so familiar to me though of course I'd heard of them. Never saw them though. Macaulay Culkin and Lindsey Lohan are really sad examples of show biz kids. Sometimes all you can do is shake your head.

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    1. Yvette, I don't remember Jamie Lee Curtis in too many films though I remember her in the one where she and Lindsay Lohan play mother-daughter and switch roles after they open fortune cookies, or something like that. Art Malik was good in the TV series THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN which was set during the British Raj. It was shown on Indian television in the eighties. I haven't followed Malik's film career after this series until I saw him again in TRUE LIES.

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  6. I'm grinning from your last comment. Lots of great talent in all these movies, including Brian Keith, Maureen O'Hara, and Hayley Mills.

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    1. Ron. Culkin and Lohan have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Indian papers often carry gossip about their not so private lives in the entertainment pages.

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  7. Parent Trap is great, I feign boredom when it comes around on TV and my girls want to watch it. I haven't seen the Culkin film though.

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    1. Col, we liked THE PARENT TRAP too. Everybody in the film acted well. You can skip the Richie Rich film. Culkin was good as the kid in the two HOME ALONE films.

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