Feb 25, 2011

[Movies] Chasing Liberty (2004)

Chasing Liberty (2004)The movie career of singer Mandy Moore has never been particularly enamoring for me. Then again, I think this is the case with most people who try to make the jump from music to movies and it's not often that these crossovers prove successful.

In this regard, I do have to acknowledge that her handlers made sure to have her focus on roles that more or less intersected with her music fan base demographic. Thus her initial projects were teen-focused romance movies and related comedies in the hopes of drawing her music fans to her new venture. I can't really comment on whether or not this has been a true success but perhaps the fact that she continues to find employment in Hollywood speaks for itself.

On the other hand, I find myself at times frustrated with the lack of growth for talented (and admittedly charming) actor Matthew Goode, whom I first fell in love with in the stellar movie Imagine Me & You (which is a MUST see for those who are okay with LGBT content). He's had a few roles here and there but nothing quite like the limelight I feel he deserves. Or at the very least, I'd like to see him as a leading actor more. Or I wouldn't mind seeing him in more movies, period.

So obviously I watched this movie because of the involvement of the latter and just had to endure the former. What fun.

Chasing Liberty is a 2004 teen-oriented romance movie that some people tag as a romantic comedy, although I wasn't laughing at all during the movie. It was directed by Andy Cadiff, whose work was mostly in television and that strange Leave It to Beaver movie.

The movie has Mandy Moore playing Anna, the daughter of the President as portrayed by Mark Harmon (from TV shows NCIS and Chicago Hope). As expected, he's overly protective of his daughter and has her followed left and right by hordes of Secret Service agents including Alan Weiss (Jeremy Piven from Entourage) and Cynthia Morales (Annabella Sciorra from True Love and The Sopranos). President James initially agrees to allowing Anna to go to a concert in Prague with her friend Gabrielle (Beatrice Rosen from 2012) with only Weiss and Morales as escorts but once there she realizes that the venue is swarming with undercover agents.

66th Venice Film Festival, 10th day (11/09/200...Image via WikipediaIn frustration she leaves the venue and bumps into Ben Calder (Matthew Goode), whom she asks to take her away in order to escape her overseers. Surprisingly, Ben agrees and he drives off on his scooter with Anna in tow. However it turns out that Ben is in fact an agent as well and was tasked by the President to guard Anna while still giving her the illusion of freedom. So as they go all over Europe in order to reach the Love Parade in Germany and reconnect with Gabrielle. Meanwhile, Weiss and Morales try to keep tabs on Anna in her travels while maintaining an odd semi-flirtatious relationship with one another as well.

Given the movie's obvious target market, I expected a significant amount of tropes in this movie. In this regard, the movie totally delivered and every little plot twist was painfully easy to predict in terms of the outcome. We know that the fact that Ben being an agent will mean (1) they're going to fall in love with one another and (2) the truth will force Anna to leave in a huff and return to her parents. Given they're traveling across Europe, we can also expect that (1) they will need to meet at least one quirky new age character who will in turn (2) steal their money / wallets at a most inopportune moment. And these are just a few of the more obvious ones that pretty much form the backbone of the movie.

And that's part of the problem - the movie lacks a real plot to carry things through beyond these tropes and what the writers hoped to be comical moments. Anna and Ben pretty much go on this grand European tour since they seem to be unable to book the correct trains to get to Germany and learn very little along the way. They magically fall in love without actually forming a basis for a relationship other than perhaps the thrill of being on the run.

And as much as I love Matthew Goode, he so didn't pass for a 23 year old here. But at least he had a decent shirtless moment (although I wouldn't have minded more).

The writing was terribly lacking in giving the characters any real depth. All we know is (1) Anna's father is single-mindedly over-protective, (2) Weiss and Morales are in love but aren't ready to full admit it and (3) Anna is a brat who has no clear goals for herself. Worst of all, the writers totally failed in utilizing Goode to the fullest since he's at his best when given witty dialog to be all coy and charming with. Instead he was constantly playing the role of the confounded agent who can't control the impetuous young girl he's trying to protect and all he can do is offer weak resistance before shrugging and moving right along with her plans.

The one thing that I'm glad for is the fact that Mandy Moore didn't have a song playing in the movie itself that we could attribute to her. Nor did she play a character with musical aspirations. That's a good thing, most definitely, since she can't even portray that well on-screen.

Chasing Liberty is just another run-of-the-mill teen movie that's only main draw is based on whether or not you're a fan of Mandy Moore and / or Matthew Goode. It has little true story to speak of and it's not even funny. It gets 1.5 wasted opportunities to get Matthew Goode shirtless out of a possible 5. For the morbidly curious or the Matthew Goode fans in the audience like myself, you can get a copy of the movie on DVD via Amazon or your preferred retailer.

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