Samantha Mackenzie (Katie Holmes) has never been just 'one of the girls'. As daughter of the President of the United States (Michael Keaton), she has led a privileged, but restricted life, attending political functions and smiling for the never-ending barrage of cameras. Now she is off to college (with secret service men in tow) and her roommate Mia (Amerie) is a fun-loving party girl used to getting all the attention to herself. Sam finds it tough to fit in, until along comes James Lansome (Marc Blucas), who makes her feel that for once, someone likes her, just for herself.
Review by Louise Keller:
First Daughter is a perfect first date movie, a sweet coming of age fantasy about the daughter of the US President who dreams of love and living life on her own terms. The story is not new, but Katie Holmes brings freshness and appeal to the central role and we have fun with her as she learns about life in and beyond the White House when she goes to college. It might be derivative and predictable, but versatile actor turned director Forest Whitaker knows how to make us care for his characters, making this an enjoyable experience for its target market.
The relationship that work best is the flush of first love between Holmes' Sam and Mark Blucas' hunky James Lansome, who is not only her faculty advisor, but seems to know a thing or two about escaping from the prying eyes of the intrusive media. The attraction is immediate, and for the first time, Sam enjoys simple things. Chomping into a hamburger tastes like freedom and life has never felt so good. Less successful is the casting of Michael Keaton as Sam's President father, who never rings true, either at work leading the country, or in those late-at-night kitchen get-togethers, when he and Sam share a slice of chocolate cake and chat. Pop-star Amerie as Mia, Sam's effervescent room-mate, injects good energy, and it's through her character, we get a feel for college-life. There's a sub-plot in which Mia begins to resent Sam for stealing the limelight from her, and a hint of a romance of her own.
Structured like a fairy tale in which the White House symbolises the castle of the beautiful princess, Sam may like parties and pizza, but she knows she is no ordinary teenager. And although she is rarely alone, Sam often feels lonely. Having a stylist and public relations consultant at hand may give her a wardrobe and an insight into what to say to the media, but she is confused about whether we has an opinion of her own. She has been dreaming of the moment when she goes to college, and fantasises that life will be different. But how different can it be, when the secret service is still your shadow and the other students peer at you as though you are a novelty item? It is an election year, and the pressure is on. Her dress-sense is fodder for the tv talk shows and her school attire is more attune to fraternising with the Dean than with the students.
The story may sound familiar - especially if you have seen the similarly themed Chasing Liberty, which starred Mandy Moore as the rebellious President's daughter who also has issues with and a romance with a secret service agent. Both films work on their own level, and in First Daughter the budding romance between Sam and James has plenty of appeal. There's genuine chemistry between Holmes and Blucas, and the scenes in which Sam tries to make James jealous are predictably fun. Dressed in a white singlet, push-up bra, teeny denim shorts, long lace-up boots and a platinum wig, Sam dances on tables and makes both James and her father cringe as she makes the front page of the Washington papers.
First Daughter is an updated version of Roman Holiday, and there's never any doubt as to where the story is heading, as Sam finds herself and her Prince Charming.
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FIRST DAUGHTER (MA)
CAST: Katie Holmes, Marc Blucas, Amerie Rogers, Michael Keaton, Margaret Colin, Lela Rochon
PRODUCER: John Davis, Wyck Godfrey, Mike Karz, Arnon Milchan
DIRECTOR: Forest Whitaker
SCRIPT: Jessica Bendinger, Kate Kondell
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Toyomichi Kurita
EDITOR: Richard Chew
MUSIC: Michael Kamen, Blake Neely
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alec Hammond
RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 3, 2005
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: April 28, 2005