Seeing double in the movies
Films about twins are favored by some filmmakers due to the similarities and contrasts they offer, which are always good for a novel storytelling wrinkle or insight.
On point of similarity, the prime example is “The Parent Trap,” where lookalike female twins were both played by Lindsay Lohan.
The child actress’ career benefited from the exposure she got in that film, which underscored how pert and versatile she was, since she had to play the twin as an American, and the other with “true Brit.”
On point of contrast, nothing beats “Twins,” starring the most unlikely tandem of huge and hulking Arnold Schwarzenegger and plump and butterball Danny DeVito. How in the world could such two absolutely dissimilar people have resulted from the same pregnancy? That comedic conundrum was breezily explored away by citing the medical fact of fraternal twins, as opposed to the identical variety.
In any case, the radically dissimilar stars had a fun time ornerily getting on each other’s bad side before they ended up loving one another for the admittedly unlikely siblings they were.
Films about twins with one actor playing both siblings include Nicolas Cage in “Adaptation,” and Jean Claude Van Damme in “Double Impact.”
More prevalent are movies with two actors portraying their resident paired siblings, like “The Matrix Reloaded,” where the nasty and villainous twin fighters bent on giving the good guys a really hard time were chillingly played by siblings Neil and Adrian Reyment.
In “Baby Geniuses,” starring Kathleen Jurrer and Christopher Lloyd, two of the main babies were alternately played by triplets, Leo, Myles and Gerry Fitzgerald.
In “Big Daddy,” Cole and Dylan Sprouse shared the role of the young boy, Julian, who was raised by Adam Sandler.
“Big Fish” is a Tim Burton fantasy featuring a set of conjoined twins, Ping and Jin, played by Ada and Arlene Tai. And “Double Teamed” is a bio-drama about the world’s tallest female twins; Heidi and Heather Burge. The 6’5” siblings were portrayed by Anne McElwain and Mackenzie Phillips.
Focusing now on movies about identical twins, it turns out that they’ve been a Hollywood staple for many decades, with one of the vintage examples being “A Stolen Life” (1946), starring Bette Davis and Glenn Ford. In the tempestuous drama, Davis plays a woman whose twin sister is drowned, prompting her to assume her sibling’s identity, so she can be close to the man she feels her sister “stole” from her years ago!
In “Pretty Things” (2003), Lucie and Marie are sisters with a love-hate relationship. In “Dead Ringer,” another Bette Davis starrer, the poor twin sister of a wealthy woman murders her out of revenge and assumes her identity—only more complicated than she had anticipated!
In “Start the Revolution Without Me,” two mismatched sets of identical twins—one aristocrat, the other peasant—mistakenly exchange identities on the eve of the French Revolution.
The “best” movie about twins ever made? Our short list of nominees includes “Big Business,” “Stuck on You,” “Lord of the Flies,” “It Takes Two,” “Double Impact,” “The Man in the Iron Mask,” “Slap Shot,” “The Social Network” and “The Shining.”