Chasing Liberty (2004)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy, Road Movie, Teen Movie  |   Release Date - Jan 9, 2004 (USA)  |   Run Time - 111 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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The first of two president's daughter movies released in 2004, Chasing Liberty is also the more entertaining, since it doubles as a European travelogue. Both this and First Daughter address a girl's desire to escape the claustrophobic smothering of the secret service, but Liberty has the advantage of not dumbing down the material into a wish-fulfillment princess fantasy, despite the presence of teen-friendly Mandy Moore. Of course, it couldn't be designed for anyone but teens, but it treats teens as real people grappling with such mature issues as whether and how to lose their virginity. In fact, Moore's whole agenda in going on the lam is to get to the Love Parade in Berlin. A festival with that kind of name, featuring rave music, hints at a certain amount of sexual and drug-related behavior, and the producers deserve credit for not shying away from those associations. Moore wins equal points for continuing to mature as an actress, especially since she came on the scene as a pop singer. Her character is pretty grounded and believable for someone who wants a wild European adventure, and her scenes with Matthew Goode have chemistry and complexity. Characters who don't fare so well are the comic relief team of Jeremy Piven and Annabella Sciorra, the "cool" (i.e. non-thuggish) agents who trail Anna through Europe. Piven's innuendos and Sciorra's eyeball-rolling reactions to them -- which naturally dovetail into a romantic subplot -- could have been trimmed. Overall, though, Chasing Liberty earns credibility for refusing to sugarcoat the story it chooses to tell.