I Think About This a Lot is a series dedicated to private memes: images, videos, and other random trivia we are doomed to play forever on loop in our minds.
Not to be all “they don’t make them like they used to,” but live-action kids’ movies will never be as great as they were in the ’90s. Don’t get me wrong, they were corny, and almost exclusively about upper-middle class white people, but they told me something that I needed to hear at the time: maybe you can break up your dad’s engagement to your awful soon-to-be-stepmother. As a child of divorced parents who seemingly refused to stop getting remarried, themes like trying to get your parents back together really spoke to me.
One of these movies stood out in particular: 1995’s It Takes Two. The plot is similar to the classic The Parent Trap, except instead of a couple deciding on one of the most upsetting custody arrangements of all time — splitting up twin babies and each parent “getting” one of them — the main characters just weirdly happen to look alike. There’s no explanation for that, just that sometimes you meet your doppelgänger and jointly scheme to get your guardians together, mostly via elaborate horseback riding scenes.
The aforementioned guardians in this case are Roger, played by the dad-hot Steve Guttenberg (the ’90s answer to Mark Ruffalo, even though we technically did have Mark Ruffalo back then too), and Diane (Kirstie Freakin’ Alley back before we all found out that she was into Trump). Roger is Alyssa’s (Ashley’s) rich dad while Diane is orphan Amanda’s (Mary-Kate’s) social worker. The oddly identical girls quite literally run full speed into one another in the woods on the edge of Camp Calloway, a camp Alyssa’s mother started at their summer property before she died and where Amanda and the rest of New York’s orphans apparently spend the summer. Meanwhile, Roger is set to marry Clarice (Jane Sibbett), the biggest bitch ever (and not in the empowering way). The girls decide to switch places because they’re pre-teens with a lot of angst toward the adults in their lives, and nothing solves 11-year-old problems like running away.
They quickly agree that they need to get Clarice out of the picture, at one point even spitting gum in her hair, forcing her to get a spiky pixie cut right before her wedding. (I know.) But it’s not enough to just get rid of Clarice, they also have to get Diane and Roger together. Everyone knows that if your bumbling widow dad is about to marry an evil blonde woman, the best course of action is to introduce him to an easy-going brunette a few times and eventually he’ll realize the error of his ways. Dads!
Unfortunately, their plan gets out of hand and Diane — the bold beautiful bitch (in the empowering way) — goes off script and invites Roger Calloway back to his dead wife’s camp for a cafeteria-style lunch cooked by the campers. The only problem? Alyssa and Amanda are still swapped, and think that Diane and Roger are for sure going to notice that the wrong girl is in the wrong place. So to avoid this, Alyssa trips a fellow camper, who throws a bowl of macaroni and cheese across the dining hall right onto Roger/Steve Guttenberg’s sexy head, giving her enough time to scamper off and high-five Amanda. People loved high-fives in the ’90s.
Meanwhile, back in the cafeteria, Diane starts laughing. Because of course you’re going to laugh if your date, a billionaire who invented cell phones or whatever, has a whole bowl of mac and cheese on his damn head. And then he flings butter at her. And then the whole place erupts into a food fight, just like we have all been promised since the dawn of time or our childhoods, whichever came first. I haven’t even mentioned that it was Sloppy Joe day. What a boon!
I languished through six summers of rural sleepaway camps, desperately hoping to engage in food fight such as this. I haven’t even gotten to toss a mere carrot at someone’s head, let alone grab a serving bowl of mashed potatoes and start pitching handfuls at fellow campers. As with most fun things, I figured this was something children are not allowed to do, but that we’d have ample opportunity to enjoy as adults. WRONG. We’re still not allowed. You playfully toss a turkey leg at your Uncle Randy that one time, and suddenly you’re not allowed at Thanksgiving dinner anymore. More adults have probably done cocaine than had a food fight! Depressing.
Diane and Roger knew how to live. Their food fight is fun, it’s cheeky, and it’s oddly sexy even though there are a ton of kids running around them. Diane and Roger then leave the children and go jump into the lake to clean off all the food and end up flirting even more in the water. This scene set the bar for flirting for me. I think about it on more disappointing dates I’m on where there are no campers, no seasoned ground beef sandwiches being flung about, and absolutely no jumping into a prion-infested lake to clean off mashed potatoes.
Perhaps the food fight was really the key to getting my dad to marry someone else the whole time. If only I had found a nice, brunette lady to lob some meatloaf at my father, perhaps he would have locked eyes with her and just known. The way you just know when you try on your wedding dress or when start to feel like you’re going to throw up. More likely, he would have been confused and then upset that his expensive suit — it was the ’90s, dads still wore suits — was covered in meatloaf and then still married my stepmom.