Mandy Moore continues to be the most painless of former pop princesses, even if she’s perpetually posing for one of her Noxema commercials. In Chasing Liberty, the first of two movies slated for release this year on the subject of Presidential daughters, she continues her trend of solid performances in barely mediocre, unchallenging movies.
Moore stars as first daughter Anna Foster, a girl who grew up in the presidential limelight when the now eighteen year old’s father (Mark Harmon) was elected president six years ago. But, she explains, before that he was governor so she’s grown used to living with fame; or so she claims right before her father’s secret service wrecks a promising first date. Chafing for freedom and failing to appreciate the silver spoon she’s grown up with, Anna escapes her father’s governmental clutches while visiting Prague, to sneak off across Europe with a handsome British stranger (Grant Hillman)… who happens to be in her father’s federal employ.
Chasing Liberty seems to be shooting for the better work of Hollywood’s golden age and might have once been suited in some skewed way for the likes of Peck and Hepburn. But Anna’s adventures in Europe get bogged down by an unnecessary political wrapper. Liberty could have been better had it taken a more serious route and turned into a simple movie about two penniless strangers backpacking across Europe. Instead it keeps turning back to the presidency to provide quirky father moments and secret service comedy relief, which while amusing, take away from some of the innocence and wonder that legitimate fifties filmmaking managed to capture.
Like just about everything Mandy Moore has done thus far, Chasing Liberty isn’t bad. In her own way, Mandy Moore takes things up a notch further than before, drinking and swimming pseudo-nude, perhaps in some tiny effort to break away a little from her squeaky clean, “Seventeen” persona. But she never takes it far enough to accomplish much, and seems permanently hogtied by an arbitrary need to stay teen and parent friendly. Mandy Moore has potential as an actress, but if she’s ever going to take that anywhere, she’s going to have to grow up. Maybe she’s content to be nothing more than a former pop idol who pops out a watchable movie or two every January. The kinds of movies teenagers tell their parents they are going to see, when they’re really sneaking out to see The Matrix. If so, then next January we’ll see another movie from her just like this one, or like the one she did last year, or the one she did the year before that. The subject changes, but the immaturity at the core of her acting and her movies remains the same. Maybe someday Mandy Moore will wake up and get brave.
Reviewed By: Joshua Tyler