30 Movies in 30 Days: Passport to Paris

Had I seen it before: Maybe? I remember bits and pieces of it, but I don’t think I ever saw the whole thing.

Year: 1999

Director: Alan Metter

Writer: Elizabeth Kruger and Craig Shapiro

Where you can stream it now: Hulu

What IMDb says: Sent to Paris to visit their grandfather, the twins fall in love with France, not to mention two French boys.

What I liked: The twins in this are named Ally and Melanie, but Melanie often goes by Mel. Two of my best friends and favorite people in the whole wide world are also named Ally and Melanie (who often goes by Mel). Does that count?

Oh ALSO there’s an absolutely hilarious scene of Ally and Mel “in the Louvre” wink wink nudge nudge. They’ve essentially been green screened onto a ’90s screensaver version of an art museum that’s maybe the louvre? I dunno, but I did get a hoot out of that. There, I tried, can we talk about the bad things now?

What I didn’t like: Buckle up kiddos, this might take a while.

The biggest flaw of this movie that makes all the other ones even worse is simple: our central protagonists are terrible, insufferable human beings. Not in an “oh but they’re just kids and trying their best” sort of way. Not in an “okay, they’re bratty and shallow, but ultimately their hearts are in the right place” sort of way. We’re talking complete narcissists who are completely devoid of empathy for anyone. They care about boys and fashion and cannot be bothered to explore anything outside of that. Anyone who suggests they should is just a terrible bore who needs to shut up and go away. They go out of their way to talk about how boring and terrible their grandfather is when he’s done nothing wrong. I hate these girls. I hate them so much.

This is made even worse by the fact that they gave both twins the exact same personality. I always remember Olsen twin movies, or really any movies focusing on twins, as going out of their way to differentiate the two. Maybe one’s a girly girl and one’s a tomboy, or one’s a goody two shoes who does all her homework while the other one just wants to party. But here, they took all the worse stereotypes about tween girls, distilled them into a single personality, and then doubled that personality. If we had had any moments at all where one sister calls out the other or second guesses their plans of self indulgence, it would’ve gone a long way.

To pile onto the badness, these bratty ass kids don’t have to grow, change, or improve themselves in ANY way in order to get what they want. Instead the adults just all break down and say “fine, you’re right have it your way!” at varying points throughout the movie, and that’s how they get their happy ending. This even includes a french chef serving hamburgers at a state dinner because the twins introduced them to McDonald’s.

20 Years After Its Release, a Brady Bunch Movie Meme Emerges

I had hope in the beginning that eventually they’d learn how the world is so much bigger than themselves, and they should be nicer people. Instead Grandpa basically says “I’m sorry, it’s really my fault for never spending time with you!” Maybe that could’ve worked if Ally and Mel had actually wanted to spend time with their Grandpa and were bitter about it, but in reality they hated their Grandpa for no good reason and probably would’ve just treated him as badly as they treated his aid Jeremy, who acts as their primary babysitter through most of this movie. Jeremy also goes on to lecture Grandpa about how wonderful Ally and Mel are even though these brats have constantly chosen to blow him off and do whatever they want knowing this could cost him their job. Hell, they run away, and then blackmail him by saying “well we’ll tell you that you let us run around Paris with boys all day.”

What also sucks is that this kind of movie SHOULD be the kind of thing where I can overlook all the fallacies that are oh so obvious to adults. When these types of movies are done well, it doesn’t freaking matter when a supermodel just walks away from a photoshoot to spend time with two American children she met at a cafe one time. It doesn’t matter when such a supermodel also has an advanced degree in international relations and instantly falls for Jeremy from the State Department. When these movies are done well, I can overlook the fact that two parents would decide that sending their children to Paris is the sensible way to help them get out of their vapid shells. Hell, the fact that the twins’ grandpa just so happens to be the Ambassador to France is fine, as is the fact that the embassy essentially functions as a personal estate of the Ambassador where the whole staff is there just to cook fancy dinners for him. Not to mention the fact that a 1-minute impassioned speech by two middle schoolers would suddenly convince a foreign government to reevaluate their public policy stance when talks with actual diplomats never did.

I want this to be a movie where all those ridiculously unbelievable elements are part of the fun, as I imagine they are in some of the other Olsen twin movies. But I can’t, because there’s nothing fun about watching children be vapid, spoiled brats who treat everyone around them worse than I treat my dog’s poop, and then watching adults apologize and give them what they want. I simply do not like spending time with these girls, and the fact that they never have a true come to Jesus moment destroys any changes Passport to Paris had of being good.

Will I watch it again: I like to think I won’t. Again, the complete brattiness of the leads means it’s not even bad in a fun way. Gimme some time though and I might forget how bad it is and try again.

Who would enjoy it: Small children might, but I would NEVER recommend an adult show a movie this vapid to their offspring.

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