Eighteen-year-old Anna Foster wants the American dream: life and liberty to pursue happiness. But as the only child of the President of the United States, every detail of Anna's life is constantly monitored by the media, the public and her very protective parents--who are backed up by a battalion of Secret Service agents that safeguard Anna from any danger, including the perils of first dates. Charming and irreverent, Anna just wants the freedom to live life like any other teenager--which means ditching the agents who are seriously curbing her good times. While on a diplomatic trip to Europe with her parents, Anna extracts a promise from her father, the President, which allows her a night alone, unescorted. But when her dad has a change of heart, Anna decides to take things into her own hands. In a wild escape, incognito Anna meets mysterious stranger Ben Calder, who reluctantly aids her European getaway. Reveling in her newfound independence, Anna decides to take Europe by storm, accompanied by the ever-so-dashing Ben. As Anna's madcap European adventure takes her farther from her family and brings her closer to Ben, she's dreading the day her holiday will come to an end. Because the most powerful man in the free world is her father, Anna knows that she has a lot more to worry about than getting grounded. But before she can face the President, she has to find a way tell Ben the truth about her identity and risk getting her heart broken--the one thing her father can't fix.
Though its title suggests the flat-footed literalism of "Poetic Justice," there actually is a Liberty being chased in this romantic comedy. That's the code name of Anna Foster (Mandy Moore), a freedom-hungry First Daughter and a pouty, selfish 18-year-old trapped in a security bubble. But the movie stumbles trying to stay in the footfalls left before it by "Roman Holiday" and "It Happened One Night." Liberty eventually runs off through most of Europe with Ben Calder (Matthew Goode), who rescues her from her plexiglass prison. Resemblances to screwball comedies aside, it should also be noted that "Chasing Liberty" is the sacrificial first studio release of 2004; this means that the movie is like a Secret Service agent taking a bullet for the President. — Elvis Mitchell
2004-01-09 | Elvis Mitchell | Read the New York Times Review of Chasing Liberty