"Chasing Liberty" wasn't anything special, but after "First Daughter," it looks like an award-winner. This Katie Holmes movie, the second President's daughter movie of 2004, is a huge disappointment as it delivers a PG-rated version of a film that clearly wanted to be something entirely else.
Whereas "Chasing Liberty" dealt with the sexuality of its lead character, director Forest Whitaker took the little girl's approach and made a film full of light fluff, despite the fact it's a movie about a super hot "princess of America" who wants to become an adult in her first year of college. That plot sounds just ripe for an R-rated or hardcore PG-13, but instead Whitaker made the massive mistake of executing a script that only appeals to little girls. From a few semi-wild moments and the deleted scenes, it's clear Whitaker was hoping to make something a little more edgy, but the studio probably caught wind of what a bad movie it was and forced him to change the target audience. Add in the absolutely terrible opening sequence and you get "First Daughter," an easily forgettable film that fails to capitalize on its greatest assets - Holmes and a barely-used Michael Keaton.
As is, "First Daughter" might be a fun little movie for pre-teen girls. It's relatively harmless, full of clichés that have been done over and over before, and features a fairy tale ending. Unfortunately for "First Daughter," I am not a pre-teen girl. I'm a horny 20-something male who wanted Holmes to make the most of her freshman year and give us "The Gift." Alas, no such luck. Had Whitaker and the various people involved in the screenplay decided on a purpose for the film other than for its lead character to find true love, "First Daughter" might have had a chance. The movie could still have had a romance in it without bowing down to every cliché a romantic comedy can have, from the "I just want to be a normal girl" speeches to the exquisite ballroom scene at the end where the girl is undoubtedly going to end up with the guy. There's a lot more to college than meeting the perfect person, and the movie could have capitalized on all of the potential the concept of the story had.
For the few fans of the movie, you may want to pick up the DVD as it contains a few special features like a couple of "racy" deleted scenes, a dedication to late composer Michael Kamen, a feature commentary by Holmes and a choreography feature that explores the training that went into the dance scene. How exciting (note sarcasm). For the rest of you, this one isn't even worth a rental unless you have little girls you want to be quiet for an hour and a half.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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