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Overall Rating

Awesome: 15.91%
Worth A Look: 9.09%
Pretty Bad: 20.45%
Total Crap: 25%

3 reviews, 26 user ratings

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First Daughter
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by Luke Pyzik

"Dawson's Crap"
1 stars

There is little doubt in my mind that Katie Holmes is a movie star. She has the kind of natural charm and unforced vulnerability that make it hard not to like her. For examples, see “Pieces of April,” “Wonder Boys,” and, yes, even “Dawson’s Creek,” particularly in the first season, where the small moments of adolescent truths that crept through the soap opera ham were almost always a result of her delicate work as Joey Potter. So here is “First Daughter,” an overlong, toothless romantic comedy about the President’s daughter going away to college, and a bad choice for the first movie in which Holmes is required to carry the entire load.

The movie begins with fairy tale narration and Old English font type credits. The fairy tale motif seems to exist as some kind of defense mechanism – like the filmmakers know the screenplay is so incredibly lame and clichéd that the only way anyone will bite is if it’s dressed up as some kind of romantic throwback to a classic fable. Holmes stares as Samantha, daughter of President Mackenzie (Michael Keaton), a thinly veiled Democrat running for re-election. Samantha is off to a West Coast university by way of Air Force One and Presidential motorcade, but whines that she’d rather hop into a busted old Volkswagen and drive herself to college. Boy, talk about ungrateful. Maybe those protesters waving signs reading, “Equal Education for All” have a point.

Samantha arrives at school and meets Mia Thompson (Amerie Rogers), her loudmouth, egocentric roommate who first hates Samantha, then loves her, then hates her again, and then loves her once more. Sybil would have made a better roommate. The movie might work better if we weren’t supposed to actually like Mia, but we are required to think she’s sweet simply because she is Samantha's only friend, when in reality Mia is an abusive sociopath. A better movie would be a dark comedy where the President’s daughter ends up bunking with Bluto from “Animal House.”

Samantha is, of course, unhappy with her Secret Service detail, as the hulking men in suits are cramping her style – like when they tackle a kid who is stupid enough to approach Samantha with a water gun at a pool party. The President reluctantly complies to cut back her security, and things begin to turn around for Samantha at school. She even finds herself being courted by a hunky and understanding RA named James (Marc Blucas). James is the kind of sweet-hearted, ultra-attractive man god that often turns up in movies like this. He is so nice, in fact, most women would take his excessive congeniality as a clear indication that the guy is carrying roofies.

James has a less sinister secret, one that will come as no surprise to those that know the production history of “First Daughter,” and how its release date was pushed way back to separate itself from the Mandy Moore vehicle “Chasing Liberty,” which happens to have the exact same plot. No one will be shocked to learn that James and Samantha will have a falling out only to reunite at the big Presidential gala, but for some odd reason the audience is treated as if we are unsure of how the movie will resolve itself. The painfully stretched out ending slogs on until it mercifully ends at the 104-minute mark. If ever there were a movie that should be 90 minutes, it is this one.

“First Daughter” has been directed by Forest Whitaker, an actor turned director who is also responsible for helming “Waiting to Exhale” and “Hope Floats.” He has acted in movies directed by the likes Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Jim Jarmusch, and Robert Altman, and I can’t for the life of me understand what attracts him to his own directorial projects, but I would sincerely like to ask him. I admire Whitaker as an actor, and would like to know what his mindset is when deciding to step behind the camera for these atrocious movies.

There are a few moments in “First Daughter” that expose small truths of what it must be like to be the President’s spawn, like when she has to watch herself being criticized on television by the likes of Joan Rivers and Jay Leno, or when she changes the channel from the Shopping Network to ESPN for the sake of her loyal Secret Service agents. If only the movie were built around moments like these instead of creatively bankrupt clichés, the movie might be as sweet as it thinks it is. Yet somehow, throughout the whole debacle, Holmes manages to maintain her dignity. She has the kind of talent that can lead her to being the next Holly Hunter or Jodie Foster, so long as she avoids choosing movies like this and becoming the next Sandra Bullock.

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originally posted: 09/28/04 06:23:13
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User Comments

8/05/13 Laura Cameron This needs a sequel 5 stars
7/09/10 christine mclaren enjoyed the film.good family entertainment ! would love to see a sequel. 5 stars
6/25/07 charlotte People don't realize that political families are normal too! It is hard to balance that! 1 stars
6/21/06 Brenda I absolutly loved the movie and am hoping there will be a sequel because it was a cliffhang 5 stars
10/31/05 Jan I'm all grown up and I liked it. Great for mom renting a movie for girls night "in." 4 stars
7/30/05 Meri nice girl movie, cute clothes and guys, doesn't require much of a brain activity 3 stars
5/22/05 Tam K. I think the movie was cute, romantic, and funny. There should be a seqel 5 stars
3/05/05 kimerie jones this movie was not really funny but I enjoyed it because it was romantic. 3 stars
3/02/05 David Tsung katie was good but story line was so simple 2 stars
2/07/05 craig varney don't have to worry about a sequel 1 stars
2/05/05 Susan Chamberlain It was OK. I expected a little more. 3 stars
2/05/05 COlleen GOldrick cute for kids 3 stars
2/05/05 Melissa loved Katie Holmes, story line could've been better 4 stars
1/29/05 tatum One of the blandest films ever made 3 stars
12/12/04 kouZo crakked my nuts....not for cinema better shown on tv 3 stars
11/21/04 Hilary Adamson Only fluff would cast K Holmes as 1st daughtr; only farce would cast M Keaton as President. 2 stars
11/21/04 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne Can't choose between being biting or sappy. Ends up just bappy. 3 stars
10/27/04 Lizzie I loved the movie. Katie Holmes palyed the character well. 5 stars
10/19/04 KIM i loved it very cute 5 stars
10/08/04 Amanda E what is that song they play in the movie and the trailer..the bah-dah dah..kindof 4 stars
10/05/04 Brenda Loved it 4 stars
9/26/04 Kris no words 1 stars
9/24/04 ender I was forced to watch Chasing Liberty once, but I certainly don't want to watch it again. 1 stars
9/20/04 Ray Big deal 2 stars
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  24-Sep-2004 (PG)
  DVD: 25-Jan-2005



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