Chasing Liberty (2004)
Main cast: Mandy Moore (Anna Foster), Matthew Goode (Ben Calder), Jeremy Piven (Alan Weiss), Annabella Sciorra (Cynthia Morales), and Mark Harmon (President James Foster)
Director: Andy Cadiff


Chasing Liberty is a memorable romantic comedy in that it is simultaneously unfunny, the main players have zero chemistry, and the script seems to be written by someone that has no idea what romance is supposed to be. "Romance" in this movie is non-stop bickerings where love means the guy having to rescue the gal all the time and a kiss out of nowhere is the sign of true love. It may work for a very badly-written young adult romance novel and only as that. But this movie has some mild sexual situations that earn it a PG-13 rating, so its priorities seem to be way off.

Anna Foster is eighteen and she is still stuck in second base. The reason for this is that her father is the President of the United States and he is so protective of her that his Secret Services agents end up messing up her dates and scaring those teenaged boys off for good. During a diplomatic trip to Prague, she runs away for one night of "freedom", unaware of the fact that the twenty-three year old hunk she has tagging along with her, Ben Calder, is actually a Secret Services agent sent by her father to keep an eye on her. One night turns into a cross-Europe romp and it's love for our two youngsters, but can love survive Ben's deception?

The script for this movie is atrocious. Anna is way out there when it comes to having a generous supply of dumb inside her pretty head. She does a lot of stupid things here like climbing on a roof only to slip and fall, and love apparently comes in the form of the guy that saves her from herself. This movie expects me to believe that it is okay for a President to waste a large number of Secret Services people to keep an eye out on his daughter (insert your Bush daughters joke here) and Anna is "mature" to run away and force her father to waste precious manpower chasing after her. Or that Ben, for a supposedly very good agent, will abet Anna in some of her escapades. Or that he doesn't have a cellphone and has to use public phones to call the President. The secondary romance between agents Alan Weiss and Cynthia Morales follow the same trajectory as Anna and Ben's: incessant bickerings and temper tantrums because apparently chemistry-free actions are now a foreplay to real love. This is a pity because the criminally underrated Jeremy Pivens almost has a chance to shine as a romantic guy here.

Mandy Moore is the only one here that seems to be remotely human. Her range is limited to lifting her eyebrows to convey anger and pouting to convey petulance, but she has a way of lighting up the screen just by being there. She is done no favors by being paired with Matthew Goode. Goode seems to be the result gone awry of an attempt to clone Freddie Prinze, Jr in a mad scientist's laboratory: he acts in perfect robotic monotone to the point that when he declares his love to Anna, he does it with the solemnity of someone asking for the salt at the dinner table. The romance is badly written as it is, but when the lead actor seems to be channeling the warmth of a dessicated slug, Chasing Liberty is dead on arrival.

Mandy Moore really needs to fire her agent pronto.

Rating: 46


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