Chasing Liberty

Poor Mandy Moore. After an interesting performance in How to Deal, she has regressed backwards a few years to join her younger singer/actor sisters Hilary Duff and Amanda Bynes in making a Cinderella-esque story where an American girl traipses around Europe, falls in love, and tries on clothes. Chasing Liberty is a strange choice for Moore, whose audience presumably skews a little older than Bynes and Duff, and the film offers little in terms of anything for Moore or her fans. They can just go out and rent What a Girl Wants or The Lizzie Maguire Movie and get essentially the same film. This time, instead of being a world-famous pop singer or daughter of a noble, Anna Foster (Moore, A Walk to Remember) is daughter of the President. She is eighteen, and increasingly tired of the constant attention of the press, living up to the expectations of First Daughter, and the Secret Service agents that constantly follow her.

She hatches a plan to escape while in Prague. While exiting a club, she grabs the nearest hottie with a bike and off they go! Little does she know that Ben Calder (Matthew Goode) actually is an undercover agent, and her father, the President (Mark Harmon, Freaky Friday, Local Boys) orders him not to reveal his secret. He is to accompany her in order to keep her safe, while giving her the illusion that she is free of security. It is painfully obvious (in more ways than one) what happens next, Derek Guiley and David Schneiderman's script have to two slowly fall in love, only to have Anna find out Ben's secret, only to have a happy ending. It's nothing new, and director Andy Cadiff does absolutely nothing to try to differentiate it from all the other films.

This film will appeal primarily to little girls, who will want to live the flashy lifestyle of Anna as the President's daughter, and the wild trip across Europe with a hot young guy. This means that Cadiff must throw credibility out the window. As a fairy tale, Chasing Liberty works to a point, but feels so removed from reality that it inspires more questions than anything else. There are too many extraneous subplots, including one for the grownups, involving Anna's Secret Service agents. Weiss (Jeremy Piven, Scary Movie 3, Runaway Jury) and Morales (Annabella Sciorra, Domenica, Sam the Man) have way too much screen time to fall in love themselves. Sadly, they have more personality than most of the other characters.

Moore and Goode don't have that much chemistry, because Goode doesn't have much of a personality. He looks cute and lanky, has a deep voice, and looks annoyed for much of Chasing Liberty. All that Moore needs to do is smile or pout, and it gets tiring really quickly. Moore has shown in the past that she can act, but the script doesn't require her to do anything. There just isn't much of anything here, which makes the long running time all the more baffling. There is not much for Moore and Goode, and not much for Anna and Ben. Every time Cadiff runs out of steam in one country, he has Anna and Ben go to another one, culminating in one of the tamest Love Parades ever. It's instantly forgettable, and not even that fun while watching.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 51 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sexual content and brief nudity.

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