What twinless person hasn’t at some point wondered what it would be like to have an identical sibling? Swapping places for a day, blaming every misdeed on your genetic double, inventing Facebook—the potential for hijinks is limitless when there are two of you.

That fantasy was at the heart of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s popularity in the ’90s and early ’00s. The Olsens twins are fraternal, not identical, twins, but they looked enough alike to share the role of Michelle Tanner on ABC’s Full House from 1987 to 1995. Mary-Kate and Ashley (never Ashley and Mary-Kate!) parlayed their cuteness into a series of straight-to-video movies and two theatrical releases that allowed their young fans to live vicariously through the globetrotting sisters and their preternatural ability to get every cute guy fall in love with them in less than a week.

What follows is a guide to Mary-Kate and Ashley’s movies, with special attention paid to recurring twin tropes, as well as evidence of some bizarre racial, cultural, gender-based, and other stereotypes that you probably never noticed. I’ll be using a Michelle Tanner Catchphrase rating system—the movies that still hold up after all of these years get a “You got it, dude!” and the not-so-good ones get “This is nuts.”

grandmothers houseTo Grandmother’s House We Go (1992)
For Christmas, kindergarteners Sarah (Mary-Kate) and Julie (Ashley) want to give their hard-working single mother some alone time so, without telling anyone, they decide to visit their great-grandmother.
Twin Matchmaking Powers: Searching for the girls brings the twins’ mother together with a sleazy wannabe cowboy who was initially repulsed by the thought of dating a woman with kids.
Twin Tropes, Apparent Twin Truisms, and Assorted Twin Shenanigans: The “older” one callously throws their one-minute age difference in her “younger” sister’s face as a way of asserting her superiority.
Evidence of Bizarre Racial/Cultural/Gender-Based/Etc. Stereotypes: They drop chicken bones into a black street performer’s saxophone case.
Michelle Tanner Rating: You got it, dude! Even though the twins don’t know exactly where their great-grandmother lives and aren’t allowed to cross the street on their own, they actually make it to Grandma Mimi’s house unscathed! These industrious little girls are certainly an inspiration to me, and cameos by Full House cast members Bob Saget, Lori Loughlin, and Candace Cameron Bure throw it over the top.

double doubleDouble, Double, Toil and Trouble (1993)
In this, the Citizen Kane of the Olsen twins oeuvre, seven-year-olds Kelly (Mary-Kate) and Lynn (Ashley) try to break a spell cast by their aunt Agatha, a wicked witch. If they succeed, they’ll be able to free Agatha’s twin, Sophia, from the parallel mirror world that she was banished to years ago.
Twin Matchmaking Powers: If they succeed, Sophia will be reunited with her boo.
Twin Tropes/Truisms/Shenanigans: Agatha and Sophia exemplify the evil twin/good twin binary and are played by one actress (Cloris Leachman).
Evidence of Bizarre Stereotypes: One of the characters, played by a little person, Phil Fondacaro, uses a bouquet of balloons to float into the air.
Michelle Tanner Rating: You got it, dude! The back of the DVD case promises a “witches’ brew of family fun,” and let me tell you, this movie delivers. It’s brimming with Full House-era Olsen-twins precociousness AND a few people get turned into turtles, which doesn’t happen enough in modern cinema. This is Mary-Kate and Ashley’s magnum opus.

how the westHow the West Was Fun (1994)
Jessica (Mary-Kate) and Suzy (Ashley) help Natty, their deceased mom’s godmother, save her dude ranch from being turned into an amusement park by her greedy son, Bart.
Twin Matchmaking Powers: They don’t feel comfortable with their father dating, so they actually try to stop him from starting a relationship with Laura, a rodeo rider.
Tropes/Truisms/Shenanigans: After eating some night cheese before bed, they share a prophetic dream about a Wild West showdown.
Bizarre Stereotypes: Surprisingly, this one actually features a culturally sensitive moment: When one of the twins asks a dude ranch employee, “Are you an Indian?” the other twin says, “You’re supposed to say ‘Native American.’”
Michelle Tanner Rating: You got it, dude! I know, I know—it doesn’t seem like the West would be that fun but, yeah, it was actually pretty fun.

takes twoIt Takes Two (1995)
Mary-Kate and Ashley play identical strangers—orphan Amanda Lemmon and sophisticated rich girl Alyssa Calloway—in this movie, which ingeniously combines the plots of The Prince and the Pauper and The Parent Trap. Alyssa’s dad, Roger (played by the man, the myth, the chest hair: Steve Guttenberg), is about to marry a conniving devil lady, but the two girls become friends and decide that Amanda’s caseworker, Diane (Kirstie Alley), is a better match.
Twin Matchmaking Powers: They get the adults to fall for each other through some clever switcheroo-ing.
Twin Tropes/Truisms/Shenanigans: They are unrelated twins who live within driving distance of each other.
Bizarre Stereotypes: The rich people eat escargot and the poor kids play stickball in an alley—pretty mild stuff.
Michelle Tanner Rating: You got it, dude! I’m determined to find my own doppelgänger, and this movie gives me hope. She could be living right down the street!

billboardBillboard Dad (1998)
Tess (Mary-Kate) and Emily (Ashley) try to find love for their single father by painting a personal ad for him on a billboard.
Twin Matchmaking Powers: They spy on their dad when he goes out on dates, skulking around in corners and hiding behind large plants, assessing each lady he meets.
Twin Tropes/Truisms/Shenanigans: In at least one scene, they have bookend hairdos. That is, the twin standing on the left has positioned her ponytail on the left side of her head, and the twin on the right has hers on the right.
Bizarre Stereotypes: One of their dad’s bad dates is a French woman with comedically thick armpit hair.
Michelle Tanner Rating: A scene where Emily daydreams about her 20-something diving coach asking her to the 7th grade dance is enough to warrant a “You got it, dude.”

Passport_to_ParisPassport to Paris (1999)
Melanie (Mary-Kate) and Ally’s (Ashley) parents are sick of listening to their 12-year-old daughters’ juvenile jibber-jabber, so they send them to Paris for spring break, hoping the girls will become worldly (they’re in seventh grade so, you know, it’s about time they grew the hell up!). They stay with their grandfather, who (like most grandfathers) is the ambassador to France. On their first full day in the City of Lights, Melanie and Ally meet a pair of French boys on mopeds who show them the “real Paris.” The two preteen couples engage in a little G-rated Parisian romance. Ooh-la-la.
Twin Matchmaking Powers: They befriend a supermodel at a café and hook her up with their stuffy chaperone, Jeremy.
Twin Tropes/Truisms/Shenanigans: They test their suitors—if the boys can’t immediately tell them apart, their relationships were never meant to be nor to survive the remainder of spring break.
Bizarre Stereotypes: During a sightseeing montage, Melanie and Ally play with baguettes in front of the Eiffel Tower; French characters periodically preface their English statements with “How you say…”
Michelle Tanner Rating: You got it, dude! As soon as they get to Paris, one of twins randomly hangs up a Wyclef Jean poster in their bedroom; I don’t know how anyone could not love a movie where that happens.

goalsSwitching Goals (1999)
Sporty Sam (Mary-Kate) and prim Emma (Ashley) swap places when Emma is drafted to play on a soccer team that is more competitive than her sister’s.
Twin Matchmaking Powers: Deactivated.
Twin Tropes/Truisms/Shenanigans: “Em, we’re identical twins,” Sam says. “Being able to pull off a switch is our birthright.”
Bizarre Stereotypes: When the town’s men learn that the soccer league is going coed, one dude says, “Girls bring a whole other component to the game. Tears…fashion…their moms.”
Michelle Tanner Rating: I watched this last year, when there were plenty of other shows and movies on TV that I could have been enjoying. Would I make that same decision again? You got it, dude. (Also, an 11-year-old Michael Cera is in this movie for like five seconds and he’s brilliant.)

sealedOur Lips Are Sealed (2000)
After accidentally thwarting a jewel heist, Maddie (Mary-Kate) and Abby (Ashley) are placed in the FBI’s Witness Protection program and eventually settle with their parents in Australia. Overcome with paranoia, teetering on the very edge of sanity, they spend their days in agony, fearing retaliation by a notorious crime family. Just kidding! The unflappable duo works really hard to get into the popular clique at their new Australian school and then they meet some cute surfer boys. At one point, Abby goes surfing and comes out of the water completely dry.
Twin Matchmaking Powers: Deactivated.
Twin Tropes/Truisms/Shenanigans: They occasionally speak in unison; they have the same dream.
Bizarre Stereotypes: The movie is set in Australia so boomerangs are thrown, Vegemite is consumed, and the girls have a pet kangaroo.
Michelle Tanner Rating: You got it, dude!

Winning-LondonWinning London (2001)
Chloe (Mary-Kate) and Riley’s (Ashley) Model United Nations team travels to London for a conference. Chloe ends up learning how to curb her competitiveness and both girls find out what it’s like to kiss a boy while cruising down the Thames. But do they win London? Spoiler: They totally win London.
Twin Matchmaking Powers: Deactivated.
Twin Tropes/Truisms/Shenanigans: They’re both able to find love interests almost simultaneously.
Bizarre Stereotypes: They interact with a cockney cab driver who speaks in comically impenetrable rhyming slang.
Michelle Tanner Rating: You got it, dude—this one made me wish that there were a Model UN for adults that I could join, but I guess that would just be the UN.

holidayHoliday in the Sun (2001)
In their most challenging roles as young actresses, Mary-Kate and Ashley play two girls who go to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas and kiss boys. Megan Fox makes her film debut as the girls’ nemesis.
Twin Matchmaking Powers: Deactivated.
Twin Tropes/Truisms/Shenanigans: They debate the merits of idiomatic proverbs and decide that it is indeed possible to have your cake and eat it too.
Bizarre Stereotypes: The population of the Bahamas is predominately black, but there are only a handful of black people in this movie. When they do get screen time, they’re in static images that are nonsensically interspersed throughout a chase scene.
Michelle Tanner Rating: This is nuts—it’s basically an 87-minute commercial for the Atlantis resort.

When in RomeWhen in Rome (2002)
Charli (Mary-Kate) and Leila (Ashley) land a six-week fashion internship in Rome. When they aren’t sorting mail, making espresso, or getting fired (they’re fired twice but don’t seem terribly fazed by it), they’re flirting with boys and tossing pizza dough up in the air because “when in Rome,” right?
Twin Matchmaking Powers: They encourage their internship coordinator to date the head of the company they’re working for.
Twin Tropes/Truisms/Shenanigans: This groundbreaking representation of twindom is mostly devoid of twin clichés. The other characters are even able to tell the girls apart.
Bizarre Stereotypes: “Women and shopping…it never ends,” one astute male intern opines. Plus, the pizza tossing.
Michelle Tanner Rating: From time to time, the camera slowly and inexplicably bobs up and down. Do they think if they move the camera around all willy-nilly no one will notice that half of these Olsen twins movies have the same plot? This is nuts, for sure.

getting thereGetting There (2002)
Six months after turning sweet 16, Kylie (Mary-Kate) and Taylor (Ashley) hop into their brand-new Ford Mustang with some friends and try to get to Salt Lake City, where the Winter Olympics are being held.
Twin Matchmaking Powers: Deactivated.
Twin Tropes/Truisms/Shenanigans: The girls are polar opposites—Taylor is high-strung and Kylie is…low-strung?
Bizarre Stereotypes: I’ve never met a male teenage surfer, but according to this movie they aren’t especially clever, saying things like “I have to make like Columbus and discover a taco joint” or (when disembarking a private jet) “I feel like Kid Rock.”
Michelle Tanner Rating: I would’ve given the movie a “This is nuts” (with an 85-minute run time, it’s about 70 minutes too long!) if it weren’t for an Easter egg I discovered after watching it. According to IMDb, Kylie and Taylor’s last name is Hunter, which is also the last name of Charli and Leila from When in Rome. Therefore, according to me, the four girls are actually quadruplets, making this movie a whole lot more interesting and deserving of a “You got it, dude!”

challengeThe Challenge (2003)
Shane (Mary-Kate) and Lizzie (Ashley) are estranged twin sisters who wind up competing on a Survivor-esque reality game show.
Twin Matchmaking Powers: Deactivated.
Twin Tropes/Truisms/Shenanigans: One sister is a hippie and the other is really uptight. Mary-Kate and Ashley were really dedicated to exploring this dynamic.
Bizarre Stereotypes: This may be the only movie without one!
Michelle Tanner Rating: This is nuts. When the most exciting moment in a movie is realizing that one of the actors played Larry Beale on Even Stevens, something has gone terribly wrong.

new_york_minuteNew York Minute (2004)
Roxy (Mary-Kate) is the freewheeling, rebellious sister to (Ashley’s) straight-laced Jane; both end up in Manhattan (Roxy plans on crashing a music video shoot, Jane is competing for a prestigious scholarship), where they dodge a strangely gung-ho truant officer (Eugene Levy) and a low-level crook (Andy Richter). Are twins just statistically more likely to find themselves in the midst of some misadventure? Oddly, I hear that triplets lead relatively calm lives.
Twin Matchmaking Powers: Deactivated.
Twin Tropes/Truisms/Shenanigans: Once again, they’re polar opposites—Jane is mistaken for Roxy; Roxy assumes Jane’s identity.
Bizarre Stereotypes: Andy Richter’s character speaks with a weird, non-specific Asian accent (his adoptive mother is Chinese) and his dialogue is often accompanied by the sound of a gong. In a Harlem beauty salon we get a hip-hop makeover montage that begins with a close-up of the black women in the shop shaking their booties.
Michelle Tanner Rating: This is Mary-Kate and Ashley’s last movie together, and watching it is EXACTLY like watching the Beatles’ 1969 rooftop concert—it’s the bittersweet coda to a seminal body of work. Is the storytelling in this or any other Olsen twins movie exceptional? Aside from Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, which may be an actual masterpiece, the answer is obviously no. But these movies are harmless twin-themed escapist fantasies, complete with world-traveling 12-year-olds and mega-happy endings. New York Minute is the apotheosis of everything that’s fun and kind of bizarre about an Olsen-twins movie, and for that it gets a “You got it, dude.” ♦