X-tina’s been stripped of all good-girl pretense, and Britney’s now the queen of the shotgun annulment. Hilary, Ashley, and Mary-Kate are still girls. This leaves Mandy Moore as the Noxzema-cleanest not-yet-woman next to Kelly Clarkson. With Chasing Liberty, she adds to her charm bracelet of conservative movie gems including the Christian apologia A Walk to Remember and How to Deal, with its anti-choice subplot (next: the pregnancy-themed Saved). Now we get a would-be screwball that celebrates personal freedom while winking toward Patriot Act-style parental control.
Dew-kissed Moore is Anna, a likable Babs or Jenna—the daughter of Clinton’s successor. After security ruins one of Anna’s dates, she makes Dad (Mark Harmon) promise that in Prague, where they’ll be for the G8 (Pops will discuss “how best to distribute our technology to developing countries”—awww!), he’ll let her go clubbing. Security ruins that too, cutting short a rocking cameo by the Roots with Cody ChesnuTT. She hits the cobblestones on the scooter of Brit photographer Ben (Matthew Goode), but as we soon learn, though Anna does not, Ben’s on Dad’s payroll, assigned to let her experience “freedom.” Proceed with several countries’ worth of Moore chastely skinny-dipping, bungee-jumping, and bugging Ben for some real secret service (duty prevents him, almost).
Moore’s lip-glossed petulance never catches fire with Goode’s canned drollery. Plus, all romantic rhythm is scuttled by frequent omniscient check-ins with worried Daddy back in WTO-land, and a subplot featuring bumbling secret agents (Jeremy Piven and Annabella Sciorra), who aren’t given anything fun to bumble. Our central twosome meets some unsavory characters, but Anna’s companion has more than usual interest in her safety. His professionalism and devotion deliver her from the bad, bad Berlin Love Parade, back to the safety of her clean, white house. Yes, we eagerly await Pieces of April pout queen Katie Holmes’s upcoming First Daughter—Pieces of Liberty, anyone?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 6, 2004