Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Chasing Liberty

Posted By on Wed, Jan 14, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Hollywood must be in possession of a highly scientific filmmaking machine, not unlike an easy-bake oven. Take three Mattel dolls, one publicity photo of Hugh Grant, one dusty VHS of Roman Holiday and a dash of European landscape and mix well. Bake for 111 minutes, frost with heavy promotions and, Voila! Chasing Liberty is ready to be served.

Perhaps this recipe for deconstruction is a little harsh for a film attempting at nothing but to make you feel good, which it accomplishes in a television-for-women kind of way. Unfortunately, Mandy Moore simply does not emit graceful elegance the way Audrey Hepburn did in her role as a lonely and sheltered princess. In fact, Moore is so disgustingly cute as the daughter of the president of the United States in Chasing Liberty that one must fight the urge to want to strangle her. While kudos are deserved for Moore or whoever decided she needn’t go on an anorexic mission to compete with the stick-thin women of today’s Hollywood, unfortunately her character — paired with the ruggedly handsome British newcomer Matthew Goode — doesn’t exude the maturity of her body, making the on-screen love match somewhat unbelievable.

While the acting is not terrible, the movie doesn’t show off any range the actors may or may not have. Watching the film is like watching television — predictable and unassuming. This is no wonder considering that most of the players have TV experience listed at the top of their résumés. Director Andy Cadiff’s most recent work includes the sitcoms “According to Jim” and “My Wife and Kids.” Not even the natural beauty of Europe as a backdrop in the film can save it from bad lighting and uninteresting angles.

Annabella Sciorra and Anthony Piven offer quirky and much-needed comedy as Secret Service agents sent to track down Moore’s character, Liberty. It would have been nice if the agents’ roles were expanded, since their love story is more credible and humorous than the match between Goode and Moore.

The bottom line: If you are looking for a first-date film or something to see with your kids, Chasing Liberty is a safe pick. If not, wait for it to come out on DVD and watch it from your couch.

Gina Pasfield is an editorial intern at Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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