In their heyday, Mary-Kate and Ashley were teen icons. Their series of direct-to-video adventures were the perfect teen movies, full of young love, dream vacations, awkward jokes and the best of ‘90s/’00s fashion. While the Olsen twins were phenomenon – they even owned their own production company, Dualstar, aged seven – some of their straight-to-video releases were definitely better than others. Only when you watch them back as an adult do you realise how bizarre they really are. Do the plots make any sense? Not at all. Does it matter? Of course not. We still want to be them.
We've ranked the best Mary-Kate and Ashley movies from worst to best. Prepare for a heady dose of nostalgia and some questionable style moments...
11. When in Rome (2002)
The one where: Leila and Charli Hunter (Ashley and Mary-Kate respectively) spend the summer in Rome as part of an intern programme at a fashion company, but get fired after a series of mishaps. They barely have time to lick their wounds before they are greeted by Derek Hammond – a Roman business tycoon with an Australian accent who not only re-hires them into the internship programme but invites them to stay at his luxury villa on the beach (weird). The girls then work together to uncover some dodgy goings-on at the company and end up saving the day, all the while doing a lot of frolicking around Rome with the boys of their dreams.
Love interests: The two love interests, Paulo, Charli's Italian beau, and Ryan, the nephew of Hammond who falls for Leila, are arguably the least fanciable boys in the MKA franchise.
Best celebrity cameo: There is usually a famous face in an Olsens film, but there really isn’t anyone to write home about in When in Rome, hence the ranking.
Verdict: We certainly suspend a level of disbelief when watching an Olsens film, but this one verges on ridiculous. Talk about giving girls unrealistic expectations on jobs and on love.
10. The Challenge (2003)
The one where: The Challenge is a rip off of the American reality TV show Survivor. It centres on estranged twin sisters who are, in true Olsen fashion, complete opposites. Lizzie (Ashley) is ambitious and focused, whereas Shane (Mary-Kate) is considerably more laid-back and loves nature. The pair must team up and complete a series of challenges in hope of winning college scholarships.
Love interests: Lizzie is into Marcus - the head intern who has been told to spy on the girls by the producer - and Shane likes Adam from the opposite team. It's all good fun.
Best celebrity cameo: Sons of Anarchy actor Theo Rossi plays Justin, the girls' teammate.
Verdict: This was the twins' final direct-to-video film, and boy did it show, especially in the horridly meta moment when all of the boyfriends from past Olsens films turn up and argue over the twins. The girls were clearly done.
9. New York Minute (2004)
The one where: Jane (Ashley) is a Oxford University hopeful who intends to give an important speech in Manhattan which may grant her a scholarship. Her carefree, music-obsessed twin sister Roxy (Mary-Kate) skives off school with her in hope of tracking down her favourite band, but the adversarial sisters find themselves in the middle of a black market deal, with an obsessive truant officer from the school on their tail.
Love interests: Jane has a fling with Jim, the bike messenger who gives her a lift to her speech, and Roxy is into Trey, the Senator’s son whose dog swallowed the illegal chip (we did say plotlines were tenuous).
Best celebrity cameo: Dreamboat Trey is played by Jared Padalecki, aka Dean in Gilmore Girls.
Verdict: This was the only MKA film to make it to cinemas, but, alas, it flopped. The type-A twin (always Ashley)/type-B twin (Mary-Kate, every time) dichotomy was officially tired, and the only redeeming feature was the clothes.
8. Getting There (2002)
The one where: Sweet sixteeners Kylie (MK) and Taylor (Ashley) got their driving licenses and were gifted a Ford Mustang by their parents. With their friends in the backseat they set out to drive to Salt Lake City for the Winter Olympics with their newfound responsible freedom, but hit a few bumps on the road. 'Half the fun is getting there' is the motto, but the troubles they come into get silly. Not to mention, the ‘friends’ are perhaps the most annoying characters/actors you’ll ever watch.
Love interests: Kylie has an admirer in Sam, but she’s not into it. Taylor has unwanted attention, too, but her eyes are on the prize - an Olympic skier.
Best celebrity cameo: The actor who plays Danny also plays Scott in Holiday in the Sun and turns up at the end of The Challenge, so he's basically a celebrity, right?
Verdict: Getting There was on a lot when I was little, but now I think that was because it was the first Olsen film to go straight to DVD, not because it was any good.
7. Switching Goals (1999)
The one where: Sam (MK) is the tomboy twin who is good at all sports, and Emma (Ashley) likes pretty dresses and boys. Yeah. When their mum tells their dad - a soccer coach - that he should pick Emma to play in his team he reluctantly obliges, meanwhile losing out on star child Sam who gets picked for the opposing (‘loser’) team. Cue The Great Sister Swap. The twins trade places so that Emma feels she’s not letting her dad down and so Sam can play at a higher standard and can help her dad win the championship. They get caught out, but everyone learns a lesson or two, on and off the pitch.
Love interests: Rather than there be two boys all through the film - one boy clearly allotted to each twin - both girls have a confusing time dating the same boy - a weirdo called Greg who, watching it back as an adult, is far from dreamy. There is also a ‘bad boy’ (read as: mean and hates girls) who catches Emma’s attention. Eye roll.
Best celebrity cameo: A young Michael Cera makes an appearance as the stuck up boy who has ‘a delicate bone structure’. Can’t. Get. Enough.
Verdict: There is a serious gender issue in this film (little us battled with which twin we ‘wanted to be like’, because there are only two types of girl...). That being said, we love the tricksy twin swapping business. More of that, please.
6. Passport to Paris (1999)
The one where: Melanie (MK) and Allyson (Ashley) go to Paris to stay with their grandfather, but when they get there they find out he's too busy to spend any time with them. They’re put in the care of his assistant Jeremy, but they soon get bored of being chaperoned so ditch him and make friends with a fashion model who takes them shopping. They then run around the City of Lights and ride on the back of hot French boys’ Vespas. A dream come true?
Love interests: Passport to Paris is the first time the twins kiss their respective love interests, Michel and Jean. Big steps for the Olsens!
Best celebrity cameos: Matt Winston plays poor Jeremy.
Verdict: These girls are living their best lives, and some of the things they got to do in Paris we will never do. Such is the life of MKA.
5. Winning London (2001)
The one where: Chloe (MK) and Riley (Ashley) Lawrence are invited to London to participate in the International Model UN competition, but after a mixup they end up representing the United Kingdom, not the USA. Lots of sightseeing and shopping ensues, and of course some good ol’ romance between Chloe and Jesse - who happens to be the son of a Lord - and Riley and teammate Brian.
Love interests Winning London is the first film where the twins French kiss their boys! Our little selves couldn't believe it.
Best celebrity cameo: Does a reference to Voldemort count?
Verdict: Anytime Americans come to London we can expect some laughs. These wannabe-anglophiles were even referencing Harry Potter. And even so, this film doesn’t feel as gimmicky or far-fetched. Win!
4. Our Lips are Sealed (2000)
The one where: MKA go down-under in this direct-to-video film. After witnessing a burglary in a local museum, Maddie and Abby Parker are placed in the witness protection programme, but keep blabbering about it so have to be relocated all around the world until Australia becomes the only hiding place left. Upon arriving in Sydney, two assassins are sent after them so the twins unleash some Home Alone-style torture on the bad guys.
Love interests Pete and Avery are the twins’ love interests, and couldn’t look more Aussie if they tried.
Best celebrity cameo: Willie Garson, aka Stanford in Sex and the City, plays Agent Norm who sends the Parkers to Australia.
Verdict: The believability factor is abandoned in this one, but despite the storyline being weak it’s full of action and is actually quite funny.
3. Billboard Dad (1998)
The one where: Tess (MK) and Emily (Ashley) are 12-year-old Cali bab[i]es living the surf-chic lifestyle on Venice Beach with their widowed father Max - a famous sculptor. The girls decide that their dad needs to meet a new woman, so they hatch an ingenious plan to climb up to a huge billboard and paint him a lonely-hearts ad in hope of attracting the woman of his dreams. Oh, and of course there’s a resident baddie in the film - Max’s dodgy agent, Nigel (we knew was bad from the moment we heard his faux British accent).
Love interests: While there are boys in this film, the love game is a little tame, but hey, they’re tweenagers. Saying that, our young selves couldn’t help but be drawn to 12-year-old Ryan - the wildly misunderstood punk-child who can dive off the high board.
Best celebrity cameo: Actress Twink Caplan, aka Miss Geist in Clueless, plays one of the women who wants a piece of Billboard Dad. Amazing.
Verdict: This super sweet film is one of our favourites of MKA's. It's full of sassy one liners, pigtail buns and colourful shades. We would have preferred a little more double-dealing from the twins, but, hey, they can turn their bedroom light off by clapping their hands AND make scrambled eggs in sandwich bags.
2. Holiday in the Sun (2001)
The one where: When it first came out, Holiday in the Sun was a cut above the rest for us MKA super fans. The DVD cover even specified that it was ‘filmed in the Bahamas’ – MKA are so cool. It centres on Madison (Mary-Kate) and Alex (Ashley) Stewart - 15-year-old high-schoolers who get pulled out of school early by their dad and flown to the five-star Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas in his private jet. Despite rather spending their winter break in Hawaii with their friends (ugh), the twins decide they are going to make the most of the Bahamas, by which they mean scout for boys. They encounter enemy number one right away - Brianna Wallace, a department store heiress who ‘gets what [she] wants and [she] wants Jordan.’ Uh oh, so does Alex.
Love interests: While Alex is occupied with Jordan (and taking down Brianna in kickass but oh-so sweet way, because MKA are the heroes, after all), Madison sets her sights on dumber-than-dumb Scott, but she has another admirer closer than she realises…
Best cameo: Megan Fox plays bitchy Brianna perfectly – her first film role before her foray into the big time.
Verdict: The Stewart sisters lived out all of our fantasies and were the envy of girls everywhere. And we still can’t get that Weezer song out of our heads.
1. It Takes Two (1995)
The one where: In this Parent Trap-esque film, estranged twin sisters Alyssa (Ashley) and Amanda (MK) meet at summer camp and discover that they are exact opposites in every way, except that they are both worried about their family lives. Alyssa’s dad Roger is about to marry a gold digger and Amanda’s social worker Diane won’t be able to care for her when she is adopted by a mean family. They decide to pull a switcheroo to make Roger and Diane fall in love, but not without a bit of difficulty along the way.
Love interests: The only interest these 9-year-old’s have in love is to play to cupid between Roger and Diane. Sweet!
Best cameo: ‘90s Hollywood big-timers Kirstie Ally and Steve Guttenberg played Diane and Roger respectively.
Verdict: It Takes Two will fill your heart and break your heart. We just love a mushy family film with an evil stepmother and a happy ending. It’s just so sweet that we don’t even care that no one ever explained how the twins were separated at birth. It Takes Two is our favourite, for sure.
Do you agree? Vote for your favourite Mary-Kate and Ashley film below!