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‘It Takes Two’

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
November 17, 1995


Andy Tennant
Kirstie Alley;
Steve Guttenberg;
Mary-Kate Olsen;
Ashley Olsen;
Jane Sibbett;
Philip Bosco
Parental guidance suggested

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"It Takes Two" is a fairly tolerable princess-and-the-pauper comedy starring Hollywood's newest child stars, Olsen twins Mary-Kate and Ashley. Set in and around New York City, the film is about identical 9-year-old strangers. Alyssa, who lives with her father, cell phone millionaire Roger Callaway (Steve Guttenberg), is a piano prodigy with the manners of a countess. Amanda is a gum-smacking, foulmouthed tomboy who lives in an orphanage under the charge of Diane Barrow (Kirstie Alley), a big-hearted and very single social worker.

Written by Deborah Dean Davis in the banal, plastic style of a network sitcom, the movie picks up when Amanda (Mary-Kate) and the other orphans are about to travel upstate to Camp Callaway, a summer retreat built by the late Mrs. Callaway.

At the same time, Alyssa (Ashley) is returning from school to the family mansion across the lake. There, Alyssa receives a brutal shock: Her precious father is engaged to marry the shallow, patrician Clarice (Jane Sibbett), who intends to dump her stepdaughter in a boarding school and keep Daddy all to herself.

It's immediately clear where the story is going—it's inevitable that the girls are going to meet, change places and conspire to knock Daddy's fiancee out of the box and replace her with a more desirable mate—namely, Diane. If she could, Diane would adopt Amanda herself. However, because she is poor and unmarried, public services won't even consider it.

And Diane is hardly a blushing romantic, but when it comes to choosing a husband, she intends to hold out for the real deal—what she calls the "can't eat, can't sleep, over the fence, World Series sort of thing."

That Diane could conjure up such feelings for Roger undermines her credibility. Alley has had some bum movie projects since leaving "Cheers," but her loose, self-deprecating style here is enormously winning—she's fun. Guttenberg, though, seems less like a movie star than a game show host. It's like having Alex Trebek as your romantic lead.

With their perilously wide, Walter Keane eyes, the Olsen twins are cute enough, but compared with other child performers their charms seem forced. And director Andy Tennant doesn't have the style to disguise their inadequacies or, for that matter, to spring a decent gag.

It Takes Two is rated PG.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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