First Daughter

on September 24, 2004 by Paul Clinton
"First Daughter" replays the bird-in-a-gilded-cage theme for the second time this year (after "Chasing Liberty") with a Presidential daughter on the run from Secret Service agents protecting her from herself. This time around, director Forest Whitaker spoons out a storybook fantasy veneer (following opening credits, Whitaker gives us a dose of drowsy narration about a little girl, a teacup and her frog).

After graduating from high school, Samantha Mackenzie (Katie Holmes) complains that she can't be a "normal, run-of-the-mill kid." She heads to a West Coast school, where she wiggles away from her security detail to party with roommate Mia (Amerie Rogers) and take in a carnival with hunky cutie James (Marc Blucas). Her gentle-but-firm father, President Mackenzie (a respectable Michael Keaton), tries to keep her in line while juggling world affairs with a post-Sept. 11 backdrop.

Holmes, who's clearly nearer to 30 than 20, never quite fits into the college milieu; it's the equivalent of a girl who crams herself into a prom dress that's two sizes too small (though, for the rail-thin actress in question, such a garment could not exist). Holmes is a shadow of her former "Wonder Boys" self. She's shorn away that adorableness that gave her acting a seemingly natural quality in past roles.

"First Daughter" doesn't have the goofball jokes or flavorless acting of "Chasing Liberty," but that only places it a notch above a fairly low bar. Starring Katie Homes, Marc Blucas and Amerie Rogers. Directed by Forest Whitaker. Written by Jessica Bendinger and Kate Kondell. Produced by John Davis, Mike Karz and Wyck Godfrey. A Fox release. Drama. Rated PG for language, sexual situations and alcohol-related material. Running time: 103 min

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