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Chasing Liberty

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Chasing Liberty

Starring: Mandy Moore, Matthew Goode
Director: Andy Cadiff
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 111 Minutes
Release Date: January 2004
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Jeremy Piven, Annabella Sciorra, Mark Harmon, Caroline Goodall, Beatrice Rosenblatt, Brian Caspe, Sam Ellis, Martin Hancock, Joseph Long, Stark Sands

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

CHASING LIBERTY, a montage of Mandy Moore moments, has the flavor of a big slice of white bread. With few believable parts, the story is about Anna Foster, a spoiled First Daughter who plays tricks on the men and women who are willing to risk their lives in order to protect hers. While in Europe, she sneaks away even though terrorists would like nothing better than to snatch such a high profile prize. Nothing even remotely believable happens in this story about privileges having its problems. About the worst thing that Anna has to deal with is that she has trouble enjoying her dates as the Secret Service normally make her outings look like parades with a long caravan of cars.

Since CHASING LIBERTY is a comedy, we can and should give the narrative more latitude, assuming, of course, that it's funny, which CHASING LIBERTY is mildly, if only in a very low-key sort of way. There is, for example, the time that the President (Mark Harmon) says to the First Lady (Caroline Goodall), "Remind me to commission a government study to find out why anyone would pierce their tongue." Now that I think about it, I didn't really find that funny.

Well how about the time Anna and her new love interest, Ben Calder (Matthew Goode), a Secret Service agent with an English accent so thick and scholarly that he sounds like he must recite Shakespeare in his sleep, escape from the other agents by taking his motorbike down an alley too small for a car? (She doesn't come to realize that he is an agent of the government until six or seven countries later.) Actually, I've seen that scene a thousand times before, and it wasn't funny this time.

Well then, how about the scene in which, if you remember to bring your high-powered binoculars to the theater, you can just barely make out Moore skinny-dipping in the distance on a dark night? Hmm, that wasn't humorous or erotic, but it was enough to needlessly boost a PG film into the PG-13 category. So long as you don't allow your kids to bring a telescope or other such devices with them, you can consider the movie to be PG.

Well, now that I think about it more, there wasn't anything I liked about CHASING LIBERTY, with the exception of the final and inevitable big kiss, which occurs with a Puccini opera in the background. This scene soars, but it is the only one.

"It was bad before, but now it's pretty much beyond bad," Alan Weiss (Jeremy Piven) says to fellow agent and girlfriend Cynthia Morales (Annabella Sciorra) in the story's last act. "It's as bad as it gets." The movie is far from as bad as it gets, but Moore's lifeless performance adds nothing to the production. As lame as the script is, a single casting change could have saved it. With LIZZIE MCGUIRE's Hilary Duff as the star, it might have been cute.

CHASING LIBERTY runs 1:51. It is rated PG-13 for "sexual content and brief nudity" and would be acceptable for kids around 8 and up.

Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes

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