Chasing Liberty

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Inky: **

Starring Mandy Moore, Matthew Goode, Mark Harmon, Caroline Goodall

Rated PG-13 for sexual content and brief nudity.

Previews (yours may vary): A Cinderella Story, Eurotrip, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen

Mandy Moore deserves much, much better than this film.

Chasing Liberty is just, plain and simple, not very good. The dialogue is gratingly bad (“So, you two are in love, huh?”) and basic (“You LIED to me?!”), many characters are painfully underdeveloped, and the Europop soundtrack is increasingly annoying, culminating in a needless flashback sequence near the end, silently surmising the entire plot.

The movie isn’t a totally unpleasant experience: Moore is endlessly appealing and cute, there are several nice little moments, the locales are beautiful (Prague! Venice! London!) a few of the jokes are well-delivered (higher praise was never spoken), and the chemistry between Anna (Moore) and her bodyguard/ boyfriend/ sex object Ben (Goode) is magnetic.

And, as I said before, Mandy Moore is better than the film itself. She clearly has acting talent, a gift not shared with her fellow pop princess Britney Spears. The girl can play drunk well, cry on cue, and has a smile bright and attractive enough to power up Iraq. Hopefully she’ll break out of her little teen-dramedy streak soon (Ahhh, and I see at she already has: Moore has signed on for a thriller with a working title of “Au Pair” for 2005, about a – you guessed it – au pair who takes a job watching two children and discovers sinister goings-on in the household. How deliciously creepy!)

Chasing Liberty is a teened up Roman Holiday without Cary Grant. It’s about Anna Foster, First Daughter, a sexually repressed young woman who is desperate to get out of the White House and into some guy’s pants. When her family is in Prague, she goes to a club with permission from her First Daddy, only to discover the place is crawling with Secret Service. She freaks, flags down a stranger with a moped, and away they go on an exotic European trip. Skinny dipping, love parades, and bungee jumping ensues. Yay! Of course, it turns out said stranger is actually a Secret Service guy (what are the chances, that in a huge street full of people with mopeds, she flags down the one guy working for the President? Amazing!), and the idea is she is experiencing something akin to rebellion, only not really, as pretty-boy Ben can save her little rebellious butt any time anything goes wrong. But of course, they fall in love. So inconvenient. Mayhem (and virginity-losing) ensues.

Chasing Liberty is a fluffy Saturday matinee that you’ll have fun watching with lots of friends (hey! That’s what I did…) but will forget within the month. It’s fun, it’s frothy, it’s like Diet Coke: good at first sip, but ultimately not very good tasting or good for you. Enjoy.