Chasing Liberty

"Weak"

Chasing Liberty Review


Evolving post-pop-princess Mandy Moore has shown real talent in the three movies she's headlined since becoming an actress. But she has yet to make anything worth watching -- except possibly to those who fall into her own demographic of teenage girls who haven't enough movie-going experience to recognize trite when they see it.

In "Chasing Liberty," she plays Anna Foster, the 18-year-old First Daughter of the United States who is yearning to breathe free of her Secret Service contingent, mainly so boys she likes don't get scared off.

Director Andy Cadiff -- a former TV-sitcom producer, so you know originality isn't his bag -- announces his intention to do nothing creative in the course of the movie by opening with the most inevitable cliché of innocuous teen comedy: the what-to-wear musical montage. Moore, who would be drop-dead gorgeous in a burlap sack, goes through about 20 outfits in preparation for a date with a cute, nervous boy who arrives at the White House in a convertible and passes through the gates before his ID is checked.

Yes, even though the picture's Secret Service agents are supposedly choking Anna's social life (they "ruin" the date when one of the boy's nimrod friends shows up with his hand stuffed into his jacket as if pulling a gun), these crack escorts apparently never heard about what happened to JFK and don't know enough to stop strange cars outside the perimeter of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

But let's set aside the picture's wholesale detachment from reality since the plot depends on it. Story proper begins when Anna escapes her minders while accompanying her Presidential dad (Mark Harmon) on a diplomatic trip to Brussels, and goes traipsing around Europe with another yummy fella named Ben (Matthew Goode, a Rupert Everett look-alike with similar wicked charm and charming accent) -- who she doesn't know is also a Secret Service agent.

As the youngest (and apparently the most British) of the President's bodyguards, Ben's assignment is to keep Anna safe while letting her think she's running free. But in the process, he's falling in love with the girl's adorably flirty free spirit. And Anna, seeing as this may be her only opportunity to lose her virginity without burly guys in sunglasses and suits just outside the door, is practically throwing herself at him (skinny dipping in the Danube, anyone?), leaving the poor guy facing a doozy of a duty-vs.-booty dilemma.

Despite both actors radiating a magnetism that makes them eminently watchable, Moore and Goode have negligible romantic chemistry -- a fact that is only amplified by a funny little subplot in which real sparks fly between two of Anna's bamboozled guardians (exquisite Annabella Sciorra and the always-amusing Jeremy Piven) as they butt heads while following her trail to Venice, Austria and Berlin.

As a result, "Chasing Liberty" (the title comes from Anna's Secret Service code name) lacks the spirit needed to overcome its pedestrian direction, its character-building short-hand (Anna must be well-rounded and well-educated because she's versed in opera and can spell "zygote") and its diva-heavy love-song soundtrack, punctuated by the overkill of crashing symbols when Anna and Ben finally kiss.

But back here in the real world, it's hard not to wonder why Ben faces no consequences for eventually putting his feelings ahead of his orders, and even harder not to wonder when Mandy Moore -- whose potential is so palpable it's like a hand grenade with the pin pulled -- will pick a script that challenges her to be more than just a fantasy surrogate Everygirl for her Moon-eyed young fans (who, by the way, have yet to make one of her movies a hit).

A curious side note: Another romantic comedy about an independent, 18-year-old First Daughter falling for an undercover Secret Service agent was once scheduled to open the same day as "Chasing Liberty." But in this Hollywood showdown 20th Century Fox blinked first, so we'll have to go through this all over again later this year when "First Daughter" starring Katie Holmes comes to theaters.



Chasing Liberty

Facts and Figures

Run time: 111 mins

In Theaters: Friday 9th January 2004

Production compaines: Warner Bros. Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

IMDB: 6.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Anna Foster, as Grant Hillman, Tony Jayawardena as White House Guard, as Alan Weiss, as Cynthia Morales, Terence Maynard as Harper, as President James Foster, as Michelle Foster, as Ben Calder, as Gabrielle, as Maria

Also starring:


Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

45 Years Movie Review

45 Years Movie Review

Like an antidote to vacuous blockbusters, this intelligent, thoughtful drama packs more intensity into a...

Straight Outta Compton Movie Review

Straight Outta Compton Movie Review

This biopic gallops through the career of groundbreaking gangsta rappers N.W.A, working its way through...

We Are Your Friends Movie Review

We Are Your Friends Movie Review

Basically the perfect summer movie, this lightweight drama has a great-looking cast and plenty of...

Sinister 2 Movie Review

Sinister 2 Movie Review

As the ghoul from the 2012 horror hit stalks a new family, this sequel's sharply...

Advertisement
Paper Towns Movie Review

Paper Towns Movie Review

After setting the scene with vivid characters and some insightful interaction, the plot of this...

Vacation Movie Review

Vacation Movie Review

Both the characters and the tone have been updated as a new generation of Grizwolds...

Trainwreck Movie Review

Trainwreck Movie Review

Amy Schumer makes her big screen debut with a script that feels like a much-extended...

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movie Review

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movie Review

Adopting a deliciously groovy vibe, Guy Ritchie turns the iconic 1960s TV spy series into...

Advertisement