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:: First Daughter

Maybe some actors should stick to acting. Jerry O’Connell (Tom Cats, Jerry Maguire) collaborated on this story with writers from Sex and the City and Legally Blonde 2. For some reason Forest Whitaker, who was in Panic Room and directed Hope Floats, agreed to direct their schmaltzy teen flick, and moviegoers are now the ones suffering.

Katie Holmes plays Samantha Mackenzie, an all-American teen who’s as sweet as apple pie, adores her Daddy, but craves a little more freedom. She just happens to be the president’s daughter, the nearest thing to a princess in a nation with no monarchy. PR officers plan her life and secret service watch her every move. All she wants is to go off to college and have some fun, like a normal eighteen-year-old. There, she makes some friends and meets James (Marc Blucas), a very cute grad student. He seems to like her for who she is, and not just because she’s the First Daughter. Maybe she’ll have some fun after all…

To be fair, some of the acting isn’t too bad, but it can’t compensate for the script. Forest Whitaker even appears in the film as narrator, but still can’t get the story moving. As a director he hasn’t built the drama well, or maintained it when something of interest does happen. The plot thins towards the end, and the characters don’t always ring true. Samantha’s transformation from angelic first daughter, to nasty tabletop dancer after only a couple of drinks is just too much of a stretch.

The writing exaggerates U.S patriotism and wholesome family values beyond belief, making what could have been a sweet coming of age film into saccharine nonsense. First Daughter may appeal to young teenage girls but given the quality of other ‘Princess’ movies in recent years, there are far better alternatives.