Chasing Liberty

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Cast:
Mandy Moore as Anna Foster
Matthew Goode as Ben Calder
Jeremy Piven as Alan Weiss
Annabella Sciorra as Cynthia Morales
Mark Harmon as President James Foster
Caroline Goodall as Michelle Foster
Martin Hancock as McGruff
Stark Sands as Grant Hillman
Sam Ellis as Phil
Béatrice Rosenblatt as Gabrielle
Joseph Long as Eugenio
Miriam Margolyes as Maria

Summary:
Chasing Liberty ends up being a teen romance that’s a lot funnier and more entertaining than you might expect even though it is still very predictable.

Story:
Anna Foster is the daughter of the President of the United States. She enjoys the responsibility of her role, but she longs to break free from the spotlight and the Secret Service just for once. The close security has interfered with her ability to date, have fun, and be free.

When her father goes to Prague for a summit, she joins him. She also sees it as her opportunity to slip away. Anna skips out on her Secret Service guards thanks to a mysterious young Brit by the name of Ben Calder. She has fun on the town with Ben. Little does she realize that he, too, is a Secret Service agent assigned to protect her.

Wanting to give his daughter a little supervised freedom, the President orders Ben to accompany Anna around town without letting her know he’s an agent. However, when Anna gets a taste of the free life, she decides to run off to the Love Parade in Berlin against her father’s orders. She gives the Secret Service the slip again and Ben is left to keep up with her on his own. But what will happen when the two start to fall in love with each other?

Chasing Liberty is rated PG-13 for sexual content and brief nudity.

What Worked:
Teen romantic comedies aren’t really my thing, but I have to say that Chasing Liberty was a lot better than I expected. Yes, i’’s completely predictable. Yes, Mandy Moore is so sugary sweet you’ll get a cavity from watching her on screen. Yes, it’s primarily a chick flick. However, what makes it really entertaining is the wonderful sense of humor it has. From opening jokes about Clinton through the rest of the film, it’s a lot funnier than you might expect. This makes it better than a simple rehash of “Roman Holiday” with an American presidential twist.

While Moore’s romance in the middle of things is the primary focus, it’s everything else happening on the side that makes the movie enjoyable. For example, in the opening sequence we see Anna on a date with a boy from school. With tons of agents supervising everything, you know something is bound to go wrong and it does. Then there are running gags about the stereotypical agents guarding the President. Moore makes jokes about their sunglasses and bad suits and that get a number of laughs.

One of the most entertaining side stories is a blossoming romance between two agents. Jeremy Piven plays Alan Weiss, a macho man always hitting on his partner played by Annabella Sciorra. Their developing relationship as they frantically pursue Anna across Europe is one of the highlights of the movie and a nice occasional break from the sappy and predictable teen romance. Piven’s fun sense of humor keeps things lighthearted throughout the story.

The production makes the most of their European locations. Prague, Venice, and Austria look absolutely beautiful. It’s easy to see why a teen would want to break loose and explore the cities. The music in the film is also an eclectic mix of styles. From orchestra to hip hop to opera to Euro pop, it’s all here. There’s probably some form of music in here that you will enjoy.

What Didn’t Work:
While I thought Mandy Moore and Matthew Goode did a decent job in their roles, they didn’t do much else besides look cute. While Moore can probably get by on that alone, Goode was pretty lifeless through the movie. I would have liked to see a little more fire in him. You never get a real sense that he’s both being driven insane by Anna and falling in love with her at the same time. I would have liked to see him totally flip out at least once. Even his final declaration of love for her is kind of weak.

Parents who like squeaky-clean Mandy Moore may be surprised by her not so innocent on screen characters. Anna is shown getting drunk while underage, swimming butt nekkid in the middle of Prague, making every effort to lose her virginity with a guy she has known for 24 hours, and eventually rolling in the sack with him 24 hours after that. All of this is shown without any hint that it might not be such a good idea. If parents are dropping their kids off at movies expecting a Disney romance, they should think twice. Then again, this movie is cleaner than a lot of stuff on prime time television these days.

Finally, the Presidential banter in the movie is a bit cheesy. I really don’t know how to describe it, but the casual way Mark Harmon’s President character talks about other foreign leaders, affairs of state, etc all seem a bit forced. It’s like he couldn’t seem presidential unless he greeted the leader of France’s daughter as if she was family, joked about setting up embargoes, and other things.

The Bottom Line:
Chasing Liberty is probably worth checking out at least once. If your date wants to drag you to this movie, you may not want to run screaming 15 minutes into it.

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