Director – Stuart Gillard, Teleplay – Dan Berendsen & Melissa Gould, Based on the Novel by H.B. Gilmour & Randi Reisfeld, Producer – Kevin Lafferty, Photography – Manfred Guthe, Music – John Van Tongeren, Visual Effects Supervisor – Dan Schmit, Visual Effects – Engine Room, Production Design – Doug McCullough. Production Company – The Disney Channel/Carla Singer Productions
Tia Mowry (Alex Fielding), Tamera Mowry (Camryn Barnes), Jennifer Robertson (Ileana), Pat Kelly (Karsh), Kristen Wilson (Miranda), Patrick Fabian (Thantos), Jessica Greco (Lucinda), Karen Holness (Emily Barnes), Arnold Pinnock (David Barnes), Kathryn Haggis (Housekeeper)
As a sinister force known as The Darkness closes in on the kingdom of Coventry, two loyal servants Karsh and Ileana flee through dimensional portals with the two infant twin princess heirs. They arrive on Earth where they separate the two children and place them in different orphanages. 21 years later and the two girls have grown up both unaware of the other’s existence. One is poor, working class Alex Fielding, while the other is Camryn Barnes, who has been adopted by a wealthy family. Karsha and Ileana use their powers to contrive to get the two sisters to meet in a fashionable clothing store. The two girls are amazed to discover one another and learn that they have magical abilities whenever they hold hands. However, their discovery of one another alerts the forces of The Darkness in Coventry, which renews its efforts to eliminate the two of them.
Twitches was a movie made for the Disney Channel. The film is based on a popular series of young adult novels by H.B. Gilmour and Randi Reisfeld beginning with The Power of Two (2001). The film version appears to have been mounted to exploit the pairing of Tia and Tamera Mowry, the twin sisters who first appeared together in the sitcom Sister, Sister (1994-9), where they naturally enough played two twin sisters who are separated at birth and meet up again by accident.
Conceptually, Twitches feels like a variant on the young modern witch comedy a la Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996-2003) or Charmed (1998-2006) having been reconceptualised as an Olsen Twins film or the body of modern airhead teen girl dramas that evolved from Clueless (1995). The main plot set-up has been crimped from Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper (1881) about two doubles living lives at opposite ends of the socio-economic spectrum. (Although most of the basic idea has been borrowed from the set-up of Sister, Sister, which also had the Mowry sisters living on different socio-economic strata and meeting up by accident at the mall). Although, after being introduced, this background is forgotten about fifteen minutes in and the rest of the film is focused on the twins’ airheaded natter. The Darkness and the kingdom of Coventry are utterly generic, while the identity of the villain has a signpost virtually pointing over his head.
The Mowry twins will probably never convince anybody they are good actresses. They have a natural breeziness together but little in the way of acting ability. Alas, fairly much the whole of Twitches consists of much giggly inanity involving the twins running around – their initial meeting consists of an extended slapstick sequence with them continually almost bumping into one another in a department store and the confusion of bystanders. The story about the girls discovering their magical powers and their inheritance as the rulers of a fantasy kingdom seems of less importance to the film than the Mowry’s airheadedness. Eventually, this ongoing barrage of teenage girl airhead natter starts to become extremely annoying. One has no particular problem with teenage girls as character but the fact that the film substitutes a fascination with fashion, looking cool and being hip as more important than their seemingly even having brains in their head becomes intensely exasperating.
The humour is facile. There are a number of scenes where the twins use their powers to do things like cause the drink of a loudmouth in a restaurant to explode in his face or a group of construction workers that wolf-whistle at them to suddenly become cross-dressed. Pat Kelly as the male servant secretly aiding them is used as a comic fall guy throughout – the twins cause a tin of paint falling from a ladder to freeze in mid-air and then to unfreeze and fall on him; and when they do the cross-dressing spell on the construction workers, Pat Kelly for some reason ends up in a gorilla suit and a slip.
Director Stuart Gillard and the Mowry twins reunited for a sequel Twitches Too (2007).
Within genre material, director Stuart Gillard has also made the Disney tv movie Return of the Shaggy Dog (1987), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993), the Mars mission comedy RocketMan (1997), the monster tv mini-series Creature (1998), the Disney Channel films The Scream Team (2002), the tv movie remake of The Initiation of Sarah (2006), WarGames: The Dead Code (2008), the tv mini-series adaptation of Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld (2010), the tv movie Avalon High (2010) and the tv movie Girl vs Monster (2012).