Main cast: Katie Holmes (Samantha Mackenzie), Marc Blucas (James Lansome), Amerie (Mia Thompson), Margaret Colin (Melanie Mackenzie), and Michael Keaton (President Mackenzie)
Director: Forest Whitaker
As a tale of the daughter of the President of United States wanting to be free and falling in love with some cute guy who turns out to be an agent under orders from her father to watch out for her, First Daughter is similar in many ways to the movie that came out earlier, Chasing Liberty. Maybe you’re wondering which one you should watch.
Yes, sure, Katie Holmes’s character here is more intelligent than Mandy Moore’s in the other movie, but here’s the deal-clincher: this movie doesn’t have a romantic happily-ever-after. Chasing Liberty is the worse movie but it offers a satisfying resolution to the love story while First Daughter preaches a message that great responsibility often means that you have to be lonely for the sake of others. But in this movie, where Samantha Mackenzie goes to college and attempts to fit in with the “normal” kids around her, I don’t think I am fully made to understand who Samantha is making this sacrifice for.
The trouble is that this movie seems to be targeted at a demographic hat hasn’t watched a movie since 1945. I don’t know whether to laugh or boo in derision when Samantha is condemned at the front pages of the country’s newspapers (it must be slow news day) because she dares to have fun at a party. It’s quite ridiculous when Samantha is grounded so brutally by her parents for showing up at a party in an outfit that modestly reveals some cleavage, her crime being, according to her parents, “dressing up like a go-go girl”. Yes, a “go-go girl”. It is very difficulty for me to even imagine that this story can take place in today’s more cynical environment where we have tolerated adulterous leaders, unfaithful kings, drunkard politicians, and drug-addicted senators for worse things than getting a little tipsy at a party.
The ending of the movie is unsatisfying because this movie exaggerates the reaction to Sam’s harmless attempts at having fun like a typical college-age young woman that I end up feeling that Sam’s parents must be borderline psychotic if they don’t even allow her to sneeze without asking them for permission first. In this, her beau James seems like the only one who genuinely sees Sam as Sam and not some President’s Daughter, but this movie forces Sam to give James up. For what? For a life where she can’t even drink without having the people around her going hysterical?
While First Daughter is better acted, it’s more depressing than Chasing Liberty, which won’t be so bad if it at least makes sense while being depressing. This movie is stuck in some bewildering time warp that requires a huge suspension of disbelief – or the age of the members of the audience falling below 13 – to enjoy.