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First Daughter
2004 - PG - 104 Mins.
Director: Forest Whitaker
Producer: John Davis, Arnon Milchan
Written By: Jerry O'Connell, Jessic Bendinger, Kate Kondell
Starring: Katie Holmes, Michael Keaton, Mark Blucas, Amerie Rogers
Review by: Joe Rickey
Official Site: www.firstdaughtermovie.com
   

Let's play
Katie Holmes one up's Mandy Moore playing the daughter of the President of the United States of America in this romantic comedy/drama costarring Michael Keaton and directed by Forest Whitaker, a talented actor/director who previously helmed the Sandra Bullock film ‘Hope Floats’ in 1998. Samantha Mackenzie (Holmes) just wants to have a normal life as she goes off to Redmond College. The problem is she happens to be the daughter of the U.S. President (Keaton), affectionately referred only as President Mackenzie. That, one would think, would put a kibosh on any chance of her having a normal, everyday ordinary college life. She though, is determined to do just that, so she politely asks her father to allow her some freedom; stating that it is not necessary for her to have two secret service agents following at all times. Her father appears to relent. Unbeknownst to her though, he later sends a secret service agent (Mark Blucas) to pose as just another college student. Naturally, the two begin to fall in love. How will she handle it after inevitably discovering his true intentions?

A more pertinent question would be how exactly did two films get made and released within the same year about the exact same topic? If you saw ‘Chasing Liberty’ back in January, imagine ‘First Daughter’ as that film minus the European vacation trappings. On a side note, both films originally had the title ‘First Daughter’, but after some posturing, ‘Liberty’ got an earlier release date and this film received the more identifiable title.

When compared to ‘Chasing Liberty’, ‘First Daughter’ can’t help but come out as the better of the two. Whereas the Mandy Moore film was rather methodically paced and only buoyed by the screen presence of its star, this film features a better script, assured direction by Whitaker, and a similarly effervescent starring turn by Katie Holmes, not to mention a relaxed turn by Michael Keaton as the policy concerned president; he’s obviously enjoying himself here.

The film’s storyline doesn’t contain any surprises; even less so if you have seen the aforementioned ‘Chasing Liberty.’ Director Forest Whitaker senses this so he makes certain to play most every scene as the way it should be: light, humorous, and just a little bit tongue in cheek. He basically gives his actors free reign to add that little something to their performances; especially in the case of Michael Keaton.

Speaking of the performances, in the lead role Katie Holmes is effective at handling both the comedy and drama; showing much more enthusiasm for her participation here than she did previously in ‘Abandon’ back in 2002. It’ll be interesting what she does with her role in the upcoming ‘Batman Begins’ in 2005. Meanwhile, as her romantic interest, Mark Blucas is effective if not a little bland at times. Other supporting performances by the likes of Amerie Rogers as Holmes’ first friend she meets at college are okay. She does what she can with the underwritten part.

‘First Daughter’ is an effective little mix of romance, comedy, and drama; the perfect late September surprise.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental.
  3.5 out of 5 stars

 
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