A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that characters treat drinking as a badge of liberation and adulthood. Although they are underage, Samantha talks about hiding beer in a cooler and Mia asks if the Secret Service agents will buy beer for them. Later, they go out drinking and Sam gets tipsy and begins dancing on a table. There are some mild sexual references and situations. Mia brings a boy she has just met into her room and tells Sam she can't come in for two hours -- but apparently they were just kissing. Later she says that she kisses boys indiscriminately, except for the one she really likes. Mia and Sam dress up to look like call girls, with lace-up boots, hot pants, and fake tattoo. Characters use mild language ("kiss my ass," etc.). A strength of the movie is capable and successful African-American characters and loyal inter-racial friendships.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
FIRST DAUGHTER centers on Samantha (Katie Holmes), the daughter of the President (Michael Keaton) who is just starting college as her father is running for re-election. She is looking forward to the freedom of being "just like everyone else" for the first time. But Sam's not like everyone else. The Secret Service detail and publicity are embarrassing and annoying. But it is finding out exactly who she is and what she wants that presents a greater challenge. Sam has to endure jealousy and teasing from her new classmates. She has to deal with seeing her embarrassing moments spread all over the media. Sam gets some support from her free-spirited roommate, Mia (Amerie) and her understanding dorm Resident Advisor, James (Marc Blucas) and to thank them she whisks them off on Air Force One for a road trip right out of Cinderella, a visit to the White House for an elegant state dinner. But Sam, Mia, and James all have lessons to learn and apologies to make before an ending that even Cinderella would consider happy.
Is it any good?
First Daughter is right off the conveyer belt. It's numbingly predictable due to a screenplay straight from the "how to write a script" formula book, which may be forgivable, but it is also thuddingly dull due to performances and direction that lack energy and commitment, which is not.
Holmes has shown herself to be a fine actress in The Ice Storm and Wonder Boys, but she seems a bit lost here. The movie feels more like product than story and will appeal primarily to middle school girls, who will enjoy the princess-y romance and won't mind that they deserve much better.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what Sam does and does not have in common with other college freshman. Why does Mia kiss guys she is not serious about but not the guy she really likes? What does it mean to say that someone is "always at home, no matter what anyone else thinks?" They could talk about how liking the way you are when you are with someone is a sign of a good relationship and about how both Sam and her father know that a good way to get people to do what you want is to let them know that you have high expectations, because they will want to live up to them. What does it mean to say that "every father has to learn to let go of his little girl and every little girl has to learn to let go of her father?"
- In theaters: September 24, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: January 25, 2005
- Cast: Katie Holmes, Marc Blucas, Michael Keaton
- Director: Forest Whitaker
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: language, sexual situations and alcohol-related material
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