There’s a scene in The Parent Trap (1998) that always perplexed me. The parents have decided to part ways, but their twin daughters aren’t willing to go along with that plan. So they make it seemingly impossible for their parents to tell them apart, forcing the parents to stay together just a little longer.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely glad this little ruse worked. I want a happy ending for the parents, and the only way for that to happen is for them to get tricked at this critical moment. But part of the fun is knowing that these are two serious adults who are really hard to deceive. If they have several simple tools at their disposal to see through the deception, the victory isn’t as sweet.
Unfortunately, I’ve come up with five very simple ways the parents could have distinguished Annie from Hallie.
1. Use Sammy the Dog
Annie literally begged her father to bring the most powerful weapon against her to the Stafford Hotel in San Francisco. As soon as Annie arrived at Nick’s home in Napa, California, Sammy the dog barked angrily at her. He knew she wasn’t Hallie. And when he smelled Hallie in the hotel, he wouldn’t let any obstacle keep him from getting to his true owner.
And Sammy is still at the hotel the next morning when Nick and Elizabeth are trying to figure out which of their daughters is which. All they have to do is get the dog, and he’ll run to Hallie. Boom, case closed. Bye, Annie. All the girls had to do was not bring that dog to a high-class hotel, and this problem would have been solved. But no. Now there’s a blatantly obvious way to tell them apart.
2. Threaten Cuppy
If the parents were feeling particularly uncharitable, they could try the King Solomon approach. Nick especially knows how important Cuppy is to Hallie. She can’t stand to be separated from her stuffed animal. And Annie’s cruel treatment of Cuppy partly inspired Hallie to respond with the most epic prank of all time on Annie’s cabin at camp.
So why not threaten Cuppy and see which one of the twins reacts most strongly? Clearly, Hallie would be enraged by seeing him in some sort of peril, whether it’s threatening him with scissors or dropping him into the trash. I’m not a big fan of this idea. It’s cruel, so I’m glad this never even crossed the parents’ minds. But I have to list it as a possibility they could have used.
3. Examine Their Fingernails
This one is tricky, but hear me out. There’s a difference between someone who habitually bites their nails and someone who is only feigning an interest in doing so. I used to be a nailbiter, so I know from experience. Hallie has been biting her nails her whole life, while Annie is repulsed by that “horrid habit.”
Annie said she’d stop biting her nails after meeting her dad, and Hallie has most likely been on her best behavior around her mom so as not to arouse suspicion. However, the pressure of trying to get their parents back together is likely to eat away at her willpower. Plus, a lifetime of nail biting is bound to leave a mark. The parents could just examine their daughters’ fingernails to see which one’s have been recently or seriously chewed. Hi, Hallie. Bye, Annie.
4. Surprise Them
Whenever something unexpected happens, the twins tend to show their true colors. Or colours, I suppose. Annie is especially prone to breaking character and reverting to her old speech pattern and accent in a moment of shock. Think of when she was frightened by Chessy, and she said, “You gave me a fright.” Hallie isn’t that poetic.
If Meredith were to walk up behind the twins and scream or otherwise cause them alarm, they would have a moment of confusion and disorientation. In that moment, they’d likely revert to their learned behaviors and mannerisms. And the parents could watch the whole thing and easily spot the differences in their daughters.
5. Check for Scars
Hallie comes across as a much more rough-and-tumble type of kid than her twin does. Both she and Annie are great fencers, true, but Hallie has likely spent much more time outdoors at her vineyard, riding horses, and going on hikes. Though I’ll admit Annie proves to be an extraordinary equestrian herself. The point still stands that they have lived very different lives. And they’re sure to have unique scars.
Every kid has at least one scar. It’s part of growing up. Elizabeth knows Annie well, and Nick knows Hallie well. They could just examine their daughters’ arms and faces for signs of scars they’ve gotten over the years. Heck, they could even check their birthmarks and freckles. Those probably aren’t all exactly the same, though the same actress playing both parts does render that line of thinking moot.
So there you go. I’m sorry if I just ruined The Parent Trap for you. It’s one of my favorite movies, so I don’t mean to be critical. These are just all things that stuck out to me. I’m glad that none of these things occurred to Nick or Elizabeth. Perhaps they were tired and sad, and they had no stomach for playing these games with their daughters. Or maybe they secretly wanted to lose, and they weren’t willing to try too hard to figure out which daughter was which. Whatever the case, these can all safely remain speculations.
The parents’ wedding aboard the Queen Elizabeth II is the real happy ending they deserve. Boy, that name for the ship has a bittersweet sound to it right now.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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