Chasing Liberty (2004) - Review

by - April 27, 2019

Synopsis: Anna wants to be like other girls her age but she's the US president's daughter and always guarded. In Prague, he breaks a promise, leading Anna to run away and explore Europe with a stranger named Ben.

Every family has a rebel. Even the First Family.

Tired and frustrated of her lack of freedom and privacy after a botched date, the First Daughter, Anna (Mandy Moore), makes a deal with her father, President Foster (Mark Harmon) that she'll be able to attend a concert while they're in Prague with only two agents watching her instead of the dozen that always seems to be around. During the concert, Anna realizes her father broke his promise and with help from a friend, manages to escape on the back of a handsome stranger's motorcycle. His name is Ben (Matthew Goode) and unbeknownst to Anna, he is Secret Service. Ben tips off the two agents assigned to Anna (Jeremy Piven and Annabella Sciorra) but the President decides to let Anna "explore her freedom" since she is unaware of who Ben really is and he orders Ben to stay with his daughter.

Things begin to go sideways as Anna's definition of "freedom" includes skinny dipping in full view of people with cameras. Incensed, the President orders her back to their hotel but Anna rebels by jumping on a train to Berlin, taking Ben with her. Thus begins something of a journey around Europe with Weiss and Morales close on their heels.

There are two and a half good things going for Chasing Liberty. Matthew Goode, the gorgeous scenery of Prague and Venice and the subplot of Weiss and Morales's romance blossoming as they try to find Anna and Ben. I have nothing against Mandy Moore, and I think she's grown quite a bit as an actress since this movie was made in 2004, but she's a bit one dimensional in this. Her character did nothing for me but make me roll my eyes over and over again. There wasn't much depth to her and she ticks off so many rebellious teen tropes in her attempt to experience freedom for the first time, the first of which is to shriek with giddiness that she manages to shake her Secret Service followed by impulsive choices that include stripping her clothes off in public, drinking excessively, and trying to lose her virginity to Ben in the bed of a stranger's home. She's also annoyingly offended when he initially declines the invitation like she was entitled to his....well, you know... and then jumps into the back of a truck of two stoic, creepy looking dudes to escape him.

Goode does the best he can with his role as Ben, but he's not given much more than to babysit Moore, the adult to her petulant teen (okay, she's eighteen but she's nowhere near mature enough to be considered an adult). I didn't sense much chemistry between the two and sort of wished he would just leave her alone in the middle of Venice after one of her tantrums. Honestly, Piven and Sciorra made more of a connection than the two leads.

There's some really terrible editing that makes the movie feel like it was made for television commercial breaks and it felt longer than it needed to be, given how very little plot there actually is. It's predictably predictable and Goode and Moore just don't have the chemistry to make the expected ending satisfying. Goode is a delight to watch, but if you want to see him in a decent rom-com where he's following a beautiful woman around a gorgeous, foreign countryside, I would opt for Leap Year.

Starring: Mandy Moore, Matthew Goode, Mark Harmon, Jeremy Piven, Annabella Sciorra
Directed by: Adam Cadiff
Rated: PG-13
Watched: 04.27.2019
Fun Facts:
- Anna's mother plays Mia's mother in The Princess Diaries, a movie which co-stars Moore.
- The movie was inspired by Chelsea Clinton who was photographed trying to blend in with other students at a Stanford basketball game.
- The plot is reminiscent of Roman Holiday.
Notable Song: Life Will Go On by Chris Isaak

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