Nancy Meyers is one of the most prolific and respected rom-com filmmakers of all time with an unparalleled resume of critically acclaimed films that have iconic love stories that helped define the genre. Her 1998 version of The Parent Trap is one of her top tier films that defines peak Nancy Meyers storytelling. It's a story about family and love that features the reunion of long-lost twin sisters, the resurgent relationship of ex-lovers, and one of the most underrated love stories in all of her works: the romantic endeavors of Chessy (Lisa Ann Walter) and Martin (Simon Kunz). In a film with a star-studded ensemble cast and a myriad of intersecting storylines, one story of boy meets girl, butler meets housekeeper, stands out from all the rest.
The Parent Trap follows Lindsay Lohan in dual roles as Annie and Hallie, twin sisters who were previously unaware of each other's existence until a fated meeting at summer camp. After discovering their connection, they set forth a series of mischief and hijinks in an attempt to reunite their parents and rekindle their love. The suave Dennis Quaid plays Nick Parker opposite the regal Natasha Richardson as Elizabeth James, the titular parents being set up in a romantic trap. Nick and Elizabeth are the target of the twins' machinations, so they are naturally the focal point of romance in the film. However, behind the scenes of the "parent trap" right alongside the twins are Chessy and Martin, the respective households' housekeeper and butler. In the background of the plan for Nick and Liz to reunite, Chessy and Martin fall in love in an underrated subplot that is abundant with just as much chemistry, if not more so, than that of Nick and Liz.
Martin and Chessy Are the Most Relatable Pair in 'The Parent Trap'
Lisa Ann Walter brings incredible energy and vitality to the role of Chessy, representing the warmth of the California side of the household (alongside Hallie and Nick). Likewise, Simon Kunz gives a delightful performance as Martin, the loyal, sophisticated, and ever-endearing butler of the classy English side of the family (with Annie and Elizabeth). The two characters are loyal family friends to each household and the trusted confidantes of Annie and Hallie. They provide the support for the younger twins, demonstrating a love for love as the pair of old romantics that they are.
Chessy and Martin are perhaps the most endearing duo out of a whole slew of captivating characters, due in part to their youthful mischievousness and relatability. They are complicit in the twins' schemes, supporting their plans with unrivaled devotion to the two children and their parents. Meyers' films have a tendency to focus on characters who are almost unrealistically affluent and prolific in their professions. Nick, after all, owns a stunning vineyard in California, and Elizabeth is a renowned wedding gown designer who is so successful that she's recognized by her signature alone. Their lives are idyllic and romantic in a way that is truthfully not as accessible as Meyers makes it appear, which is a testament to her craft yet again. But for those in search of a more grounded perspective, Martin and Chessy are the real people of the story, with a real love story to boot. As a butler and housekeeper, they are more relatable than a vineyard owner and someone whose work is featured in Vogue. They're the boots on the ground who help invite the viewers into the family. Nonetheless, they are treated like family just as much as anyone else, and are so incredibly charming that they steal the show when the two are on-screen together.
Martin and Chessy Have the Best Meet-Cute in 'The Parent Trap'
The romance between Martin and Chessy seems as fated as any other story on film. They meet in the third act of The Parent Trap in a meet-cute that could be the defining example of the term. The adventurous Martin, clad in but a speedo, runs into Chessy in the James' hotel suite. The googly eyes they make at each other are so big that they were probably the largest seen on the big screen for several decades. There's a kiss on the hand, some romantic words in French, and the two are off to the races in their own whirlwind romance.
The chemistry between the two only gets stronger and more apparent with each successive appearance. Have you ever noticed those two friends in a group who start showing up to things together, leave at the same time, and look attached at the hip even in group settings? Next thing we see, Martin and Chessy are doing just that as they continue to help the girls with their schemes. The scene in The Parent Trap where the two are sidled up far too closely in the halls of a boat is perhaps the steamiest scene in the film. They end up pressed against each other and, though it's still family friendly enough to fit right in, they are breathless and flirty. Their scheming alongside the twins only becomes more charming as we see the two become quite a good team as they participate in the trapping of the two parents. Their interactions in The Parent Trap only reinforce just how perfect they are together: they're both loyal, youthful, charming, and have some spice that makes them more than just the help. They love the twins and their respective families so much that it's so obvious that the two were meant to fall in love.
This Will Be an Everlasting Love...
Compared to all the other pairings and dynamics that appear in The Parent Trap, Martin and Chessy probably get the least amount of screen time. The two make sure that every second counts, ensuring that when the viewer sees them next, it's apparent just how much chemistry they have fostered and how connected the two have become off-screen. In the scrapbook snapshots to close the film, we see the two enjoying the wedding between Nick and Liz with gleeful smiles. It's a faux pas that's surprising to see, but Martin proposes to Chessy, and we immediately forget how rude it is to get engaged at another wedding. The two are in love, part of the family, and it's a joy to see. The romance between Martin and Chessy feels so obvious and inevitable that in a film featuring other dynamic romances, their love story feels like it will be everlasting love.