First Daughter

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Rating: PG

Starring:
Katie Holmes as Samantha Mackenzie
Marc Blucas as James Lansome
Amerie Rogers as Mia Thompson
Michael Keaton as President Mackenzie
Margaret Colin as Melanie Mackenzie
Lela Rochon as Liz Pappas
Michael Milhoan as Agent Bock
Dwayne Adway as Agent Dylan
Hollis Hill as Agent Colvin
Ken Moreno as Agent Mercer
Andrew Caple-Shaw as Agent Dryer
Alex Avant as Shift Leader
Barry Livingston as Press Secretary
Piper Cochrane as Communications Director
Adam Donshik as First Lady’s Chief of Staff

Special Features:
Commentary by Katie Holmes, Marc Blucas, and Amerie Rogers

Deleted and extended scenes

Making of choreography featurette

The Final Score: Remembering Michael Kamen

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1) and Fullscreen (1.33:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish and French Language
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 104 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

“Once Upon A Time…there lived a lovely little girl named Samantha. She had everything she could possibly wish for, and lived in a beautiful white house, The White House. Katie Holmes stars as Samantha Mackenzie – a sheltered young woman who just wants a normal school experience, away from the influence of her parents. Only trouble is, her dad (Michael Keaton) is the President of the United States! But nothing will stop her, so, under Secret Service surveillance and a nonstop media glare, Samantha meets – and falls hard – for a handsome college student…who has a secret existence of his own.”

First Daughter is rated PG for language, sexual situations and alcohol-related material

The Movie:
Unfortunately, First Daughter suffers from a number of problems. First and foremost, it is wholly unoriginal. There’s almost a whole genre of films about the poor sheltered princess/celebrity who just wants to have a normal life and find love. They break away from their restricted world and fall for a cute guy only to have their fame drive them apart….at least until they reunite for the happy ending. First Daughter includes every cliché from that genre. Even the one twist that the film has to offer was already done in Mandy Moore’s “Chasing Liberty” (which ironically had the working title “First Daughter”). Unless you’re looking for something utterly predictable, then First Daughter is going to be a disappointment.

The next problem is that the movie varies dramatically in tone. It starts out looking like a cute fairy tale ala Ella Enchanted. It then swings to a serious drama as the Secret Service believes Samantha’s life is threatened (think The Bodyguard). Then at other times it almost looks like a sex comedy as Samantha goes to frat parties, gets drunk, and does other activities that aren’t so kid friendly. All this makes me wonder who they were making this movie for. It has elements that I wouldn’t want little kids watching, yet it is too sappy and lighthearted for adults. This makes it ultimately unsatisfying for everyone except teen girls.

Despite being weak in almost every other respect, this movie had a good cast and crew behind it. Director Forest Whitaker shows yet again that he’s able to handle a wide range of films. There are also a number of clever cuts and transitions between scenes. Then you have music by one of my favorite composers Michael Kamen. This was the last movie he worked on before his untimely death. As for the cast I don’t think any guy can complain about staring at Katie Holmes for 104 minutes. She’s so adorable and sweet in this movie that you might get a cavity from watching it. Marc Blucas makes a good leading man as well. He’s able to handle the serious scenes as well as the romantic ones. I’ve always enjoyed Michael Keaton, so it was fun to see him in this brief role as the President. Margaret Colin also looks amazingly similar to Katie Holmes, enough so that they really seem to be related. Finally, there’s Amerie as Samantha’s roommate Mia. Unfortunately she’s shallow, petty, and annoying in this movie so it’s a little hard to like her. I think she’d be better in other roles.

I don’t think I would recommend First Daughter to anyone besides Katie Holmes fans and teenage girls. It’s just not going to appeal to anyone else.

The Extras:
Besides including both the widescreen and fullscreen versions of this film, this DVD has a few bonus features to offer:

Commentary by Katie Holmes, Marc Blucas, and Amerie Rogers – Unfortunately this commentary was a little dry. The main actors don’t have a lot of direction in their commentary and it comes across mainly as a bunch of folks kicking back watching old home movies. They mainly reminisce about the shoot rather than offer any insight into the story or characters.

Deleted and extended scenes – There are only two deleted scenes. One shows Samantha going to get tons of birth control in order to make James Lansome jealous. The material is a little racy if they were aiming it at kids, so it is better left out. The other deleted scene is an extended version of the bar dance. Samantha does a lot more racy dance and you quickly understand why James would intervene. Both scenes make Samantha seem a little wilder.

Making of choreography featurette – This feature shows how they did the ballroom scenes from the film. It turns out that they did a fair amount of training in order to look authentically proper in the dance numbers.

The Final Score: Remembering Michael Kamen – This is a tribute to the late composer Michael Kamen by his collaborator Blake Neely. He talks about Kamen’s method of working, his start on this project, and his last days. It’s a brief but moving featurette.

The Bottom Line:
Not even a strong cast can save First Daughter due to the unoriginal story and the wildly changing tone of the film.

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