I Said What I Said

It Takes Two Is Better Than The Parent Trap For One Critical Reason

These films are identical in pretty much every way... except one.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen starred in 1995's 'It Takes Two,' while Lindsay Lohan played the twins in...
Warner Bros; Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

There are a lot of great family films out there, but one that continues to stand the test of time is the beloved classic The Parent Trap. Whether you prefer the 1998 Lindsay Lohan iteration or the original 1961 version starring Hayley Mills, the general concept of the movie has managed to mesmerize multiple generations.

The story centers around twin girls who meet at camp, discover they are long-lost sisters, and concoct a plan to switch places with each other in order to get their parents back together. Basically, it’s the ultimate prank any kid could ever pull on their folks.

But while I, too, have found myself downright captivated by both of these iconic films, there’s always been one major problem with The Parent Trap that I’ve never been able to reconcile with. And it’s for that reason that I’m finally ready to admit that when it comes to familial hijinks films, I prefer its lesser-talked-about but equally entertaining counterpart, It Takes Two.

An Olsen Twins Gem

Starring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, the movie had a very similar premise to The Parent Trap. The Olsen twins played identical twin girls, Alyssa and Amanda, who meet by chance and share an instant connection — only, they are not related in any way. The fact that they look exactly alike is portrayed as just a random, unexplainable coincidence. However, they decide to use their likeness to switch places as a way to help each other out of their current circumstances — Alyssa’s rich father (played by Steve Guttenberg) is about to marry a mean gold digger of a woman (Jane Sibbett), while Amanda is on the verge of being adopted by a horrible family that collects kids for personal gain.

As you would expect, their plan goes somewhat awry, and they are on the verge of being caught multiple times. Yet, it only proves to make their bond even stronger and results in a love match that could change the course of their lives forever.

The Big Hitch

Sure, the film has never received as much love or hype as The Parent Trap, yet it proves to be the superior choice in my book for one very crucial reason. The biggest flaw in The Parent Trap has always been the parents' decision to separate siblings from each other and leave them with no knowledge of the other's existence. Both the mother and the father are presented as two very lovely people, but it never tracked for me how they could've lived with this decision for so long.

For starters, how were they both OK with not ever seeing one of their children while also lying to the child they decided to keep? Because while there are definitely some circumstances where lying to your kid is entirely understandable, this is a completely different situation. This involved years and years of lying about a fundamental aspect of their lives. Didn't that eat them up inside? Because before they got called out on it, they seemed perfectly content with their lives. Didn't they miss their other child at all? And if so, how were they able to stay away?

Flawed Logic

Then there's the reason why they willingly chose to do all of this. Their lives weren't in danger. They didn't feel like the other parent would treat the child badly. It wasn't that one or the other couldn't financially support both children. They simply didn't want to see each other again because it would've been... too awkward? Too painful? So, because they didn't want to deal with their relationship issues like adults, they opted to make their children suffer the consequences. Yes, they were wonderful parents to the child they raised, but what about the child they ultimately abandoned?

If the two girls had never met at camp, would they have never met their other parents? It had already been almost 12 years. How long would this have gone on before the parents would've been honest with their children? It shouldn't have been up to the girls to rectify the situation in the first place.

Truth Be Told...

Of course, I realize this is a work of fiction, and the whole thing is meant to be a fun, family-friendly adventure. And, to be honest, it's still easy to get swept up in the fun elements of the story (especially for the tricks they play on their evil stepmother-to-be). But at the end of the day, it's a major sticking point in the plot and has always rubbed me the wrong way. That's why I love It Takes Two. It still has the fun "gotcha" twin twist — but without the horrible parenting decision to split up two sisters without their consent. For me, that's a total dealbreaker.