Chasing Liberty (2004)
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Review Date: January 07, 2004
Director: Andy Cadiff
Writer: Derek Guiley, David Schneiderman
Producers: Broderick Johnson, Andrew Kosove, David Parfitt
Mandy Moore
Matthew Goode
Mark Harmon
Her father is the President of the US of A, but all she wants to do is party, partey and partay! She's Mandy Moore playing the same cute-as-a-button-yet-nobody-loves-me character that she's been playing for a couple of years now, and she's just about ready to drop her cherry into the lap of a British guy on a scooter (long story) What she doesn't know is that the guy is actually a secret service agent paid to watch over her while in Europe. Will they fall in love? Will she drop said cherry-bomb? Will the guy knife her in the back instead, blindfold her and demand ransom money for her safe return? See the movie and find out!
I had a choice to see one of two crappy-looking movies this first weekend of the year 2004 and decided to see this one over MY DADDY'S BABY, mostly because it featured the adorable Mandy Moore and...well, it featured the adorable Mandy Moore!! I confess this before my write-up because it's important to note that I was expecting a piece of shit covered in fruity songs and teen marketing gimmicks but received instead, not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but a sweet, teen romance of the "my dad sucks and I'm in love with a British bloke" variety. All that to say that there isn't much in this movie that will surprise anyone (other than a shadowy shot of Moore's ass-sadly, a body double that Moore picked out herself), as the film revels in all of its formula, from the tough-as-nails dad, to the "understanding mom", the quirky comic relief, the stereotypical Europeans (the Italian gondola guy who still lives with his mommy, i.e. me in two years), etc... The scraps of originality that can be attributed to the film include its lead premise which doesn't just feature your typical high-schooler, but the President's daughter (although deep down...she's just like us!) and the welcomed addition of the always-funny Jeremy Piven and the actress from whom I never thought we'd hear again, Annabella Sciorra, as two feuding secret service agents. I don't usually care for lame subplots, but this one actually peppered the story up a touch. That said, the film's overall concept is still unlikely to win many creativity awards, but it's cute, it's entertaining and it featured decent acting from the two leads, as well as chemistry.

My main selling point was the gorgeous Mandy Moore though. I would pay $10 just to sit in a theater (alone and wearing a trenchcoat) and watch her smile on the big screen for about two hours. Her co-star was also solid. Most of the "guys" in these teen chick flicks are lame-ass, no-talent goofs that we never hear from again, but this dude actually had "something" going. Matthew Goode is the name. Other than that, Mark Harmon plays the Prez as lame as can be, with a suit about two sizes too big and an attitude that can only have been written by Hollywood screenwriters. We also get the proverbial product placement (Pepsi, FedEx-- look closely, there's an arrow in their logo...), an annoying Trainspotting-esque character that should have been excised from the film entirely and the final staple montage of the lead characters flashing-back to all of the stuff that we saw them go through earlier, played over a "pop song". Gotta love it. The film also ran way too long for a generic entry of its sort, closing in on the 2-hour mark. It started to feel like it too, near the end. But when all was said and done, it was the antagonistic relationship between Moore and Goode that worked for me, and that was, after all, the film's selling point. Toss some stunning imagery from across Europe into the mix (Prague, Venice, Berlin, etc...), peppy tunes, a little romance, a little humor, and you've got yourself a decent "date movie" to see with your better half during this dead-time of the movie season. Note to Mandy Moore: You're as adorable as adorable can be, with great potential as an actress, but if you're really serious about this job, drop the bubblegum roles already and take a chance on something original. You can do it!
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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