by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Katie Holmes as SAMANTHA MACKENZIE
Marc Blucas as JAMES
Amerie as MIA
Michael Keaton as PRESIDENT MACKENZIE
Margaret Colin as MELANIE MACKENZIE
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Forrest Whitaker
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Before I go into the actual “First Daughter” movie, let’s get past the whole “Chasing Liberty” discussion. I don’t know who ripped off the idea from whom, but the plots are virtually identical. Sure, there are some location changes and characters that differ from film to film, but the general idea is the same.
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And that’s really what made “First Daughter” a little hard to watch. It wasn’t that it was a story about a president’s daughter. We’ve seen those before over the years. It was the romance she has and the not-so-subtle twists in the story along the way.
I’m not going to go into deep comparisons, but I will say that I thought that “Chasing Liberty” was executed with much more style and grace. And aside from Michael Keaton being about as unbelievable as a President as Mark Harmon was in “Chasing Liberty,” let’s look at “First Daughter” on its own.
Films are either vehicles for a specific actor or an ensemble piece. “First Daughter” is unquestionably a vehicle for Katie Holmes. And while she’s very cute, she just doesn’t have the presence to carry a film. Playing a love interest or one of many twentysomethings is more her forte. Much of the first act of “First Daughter” involves her smiling a lot and looking really timid. (However, it is worthwhile to note that the casting of her and Margaret Colin is brilliant because it is uncanny how much they look alike.)
There were some odd character choices, such as her roommate Mia (Amerie). Supposedly mismatched by the housing office, Mia has a constant chip on her shoulder and is endlessly irritated with the fact that Samantha gets more attention. But what did she expect? I’m sure that Chelsea Clinton’s roomies figured this was just part of the situation.
The intention was to show Samantha as a girl who had been sheltered all her life. She’d never been without the men in black looking over her shoulder. However, while her father had been a governor, he had only been President for four years. If the writers would have shown her father as a vice president for eight years, then a president, I would have bought her irritation a little more.
While this is strictly a “chick flick,” there should have been some sense of peril for Samantha. Sure, President Mackenzie tells her he gets sent threats on her every day, but we never see this. I’m not asking for a terrorist bomb in her Psych 101 class, but there needed to be something more than obnoxious reporters, squirt guns, paparazzi and a traffic accident.
The DVD contains a sampling of decent special features .There’s a commentary track by Katie Holmes, Marc Blucas and Amerie, which is about par for the course when it comes to strictly actor commentaries. It’s not much more than discussions of what the weather was like during scene or what was on the menu that day at the craft services table. However, if you’re interested in hearing a fluffy discussion from the actors’ point of view, you could do worse.
There are several deleted scenes which offer a little more background to the characters. Additionally, there are two featurettes, one on each side of the disk. One examines the choreography of the film and uncovers what I consider to be one of its greatest faults - too much ballroom dancing. The other is a tribute to composer Michael Kamen, who died before the film was finished. This is a nice, touching piece that opens your eyes to the other jobs on a movie besides directing and acting.
“First Daughter” is a good bet for those who like any type of romantic comedy. Case in point, my wife liked the movie more than I did. And I will concede that I would expect a lot worse when the film comes from the mind of Jerry O’Connell. I hope he doesn’t quit his day job.
Specifications: Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. Fullscreen (1.33:1) and widescreen (1.85:1) presentation. French and Spanish language tracks. Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.