Chasing Liberty (2003)

Written by Derek Guiley & David Schneiderman
Directed by Andy Cadiff
Starring Mandy Moore, Matthew Goode, Jeremy Piven, Annabella Sciorra, Mark Harmon


Released by Warner Brothers
Rating: PG-13
Region: 1
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Rent it if you must.

Anna Foster (Moore) wants pretty much what every other eighteen-year-old girl wants: to be able to live her life without being in the overprotective shadow of her parents. Trouble is, most girls aren't the First Daughter of the United States. Anna's dad (an effective Harmon) is a bit paranoid--and rightly so: in today's day and age Anna is both bargaining chip and walking target. During a trip in Europe, Anna decides to make a break for it and loses her security entourage (Sciorra and Piven) and she meets this great guy who might actually be interested in her. But of course, it's never that easy, is it?

Well, this film has already been done. It was called Roman Holiday. I hesitate to compare the two, even though this is obviously an homage to that 1953 flick, because Hepburn and Peck can destroy Moore and Goode without a second glance. But that needs to be said.

What also needs to be said is that while this is a cute film--and the supporting cast try their damnedest to keep everything afloat, especially Harmon and Piven--I could not get over the fact that Anna is an irredeemably selfish prat. I hate to bring reality with me to the cinema, you know, but this film just doesn't work in a post-9/11 world. In the back of my mind, I could not break away from the fact that Anna was making life for her parents hell, when they're trying to keep the nation and most of the free world from imploding. This is nowhere more evident than one of the opening scenes, in which Anna bursts into the Oval Office and interrupts a meeting about the Middle East to complain about her date gone wrong. Kinda hard to like the girl, really.

That being said I'm sure that if you're female and under the age of fourteen, you'll probably think this is a great, entertaining film. Moore's cute enough and Goode is the Guy With a Cool Accent, but they're pretty much there just to look good and spout their lines. Piven carries the tiresome B-plot of the two Secret Service agents who would like to hook up; Sciorra isn't given much to do but rebuff Piven. And the idea of freedom at all costs is still attractive to young folks who don't have enough common sense yet.

The DVD, although with a few bonuses to offer, doesn't give much unless you're the aforementioned demographic for this thing. The commentary by Moore and Goode consists of dead air, shout outs, meaningless stories about the shoot--in that order. Even the most die hard of Moore fans will be hard pressed to make it through. The additional scenes are pretty much a wash, as there's a reason the stuff didn't end up in the film proper.

The performance of "The Seed" by The Roots is presented here in its entirety, taken from the club sequence. It's a cool song, so that's something. Also of note is the gag reel, which is basically Piven riffing on various scenes. It's funnier than the film itself, sadly. The only other feature is the actors talking about the various European locations, how to travel in Europe, and what to do when you get there. Again, tweeners will love it.

Bottom line: it's cute, but it's too caught up in being cute to be enjoyable. Rent if you must, but anyone over fifteen should just pull out the copy of the original.

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