A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is aimed squarely at 13-year-old-girls. It contains implied nudity, strong language and smoking and drinking (it takes place in Europe where drinking is legal at age 18). Characters also lie and steal without any second thoughts or consequences. Liberty and Ben leave a restaurant without paying and lie to get a free gondola ride. A girl begins to explain the appeal of a pierced tongue, but is stopped before she can finish. Liberty complains about not getting a chance to get to "third base." Liberty twice takes her clothes off in front of Ben (nothing shown), once intending to seduce him, but he refuses. Even after they declare their feelings for each other, they do not have sex, a refreshing departure for the norm in this genre.
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What's the story?
Pop princess Mandy Moore plays the President's runaway 18-year-old daughter in this formula romantic comedy designed for middle school girls and not of much interest or appeal for anyone else. Liberty (Moore) is a sweet kid who understands that being followed by secret service agents and having her picture taken with tourists and dignitaries is part of the job description. Like any other 18-year-old, she thinks her parents are too protective. On a trip to Prague, her father (Mark Harmon) breaks his promise to limit her secret service protection to two agents, so she runs away, with the help of a handsome guy with a cool British accent named Ben (Matthew Goode). It turns out that he is in the secret service, too, but ordered not to tell Liberty, so that she can have the illusion of an adventure. But things do not go as planned, and they end up having more of an adventure than they thought.
Is it any good?
There are pretty things to look at in CHASING LIBERTY, especially Prague and Venice, and newcomer Goode, who is very good indeed. And we want to root for the overprotected Liberty, never alone but always lonely, to take some risks and have some fun. But Moore is so limited as a performer, the plot and dialogue are so superficial and unimaginative, and the lack of chemistry between the leads is so intrusive that a recap montage of the would-be high points near the end just seems painful.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Liberty's situation is just an exaggerated version of the struggles that all parents and teenagers have over independence. Why did Liberty try to get Ben to have sex with her? Why did he turn her down? What made them like each other? Families might want to read up on Alice Roosevelt, the headstrong and outspoken daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt. When asked why he did not stop her from getting into trouble, he replied that he could control the affairs of state, or control Alice, but could not possibly do both.
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