Title: Chasing Liberty [Sarah’s Take]
Released: 2004

The Republican National Convention is over, the Democratic National Convention is in full swing, and the presidential election is just around the corner. The air is buzzing with politics, and there’s no better time to educate ourselves about the presidency than right now. Thankfully, we have someone we can rely on to help us make sense of all things White House, and that person, of course, is Mandy Moore, a.k.a. The President of the United States of Beautiful. Join me, fellow patriots, in an analysis of Chasing Liberty, which is arguably the best film that features both the fictional President of the United States and a shirtless Matthew Goode.

The So-Called Plot

Mandy Moore (we never use her character’s name, because it’s MANDY MOORE) is the President’s daughter, and she’s getting pretty sick of having all of the Secret Service on her ass 24/7. So when she has to go to Prague with her parents, she seizes the opportunity to run away for a weekend of freedom with the help of Ben (Matthew Goode), a dead sexy British guy on a moped. But what she doesn’t know is that Ben is actually a Secret Service agent, ordered by her father to keep watch over her while she sows her wild oats. Will Mandy find out Ben’s true identity? And will Ben be able to resist the charms of Mandy Moore and keep things strictly professional? If you’ve ever seen a romantic comedy before, you know the answers to these questions. YOU GENIUS YOU.

Bee tee dubs, I watched this movie with Alix, who’s in town visiting before she moves to Scotland. Here’s Alix’s take on the plot: “This is like Roman Holiday… but not.”

Casting Callback

Besides Mandy, who is obvs a shining star, this film features Matthew Goode, who–and I NEVER say this–is totally hot enough to deserve Mandy. I mean, HELLO.

Matthew Goode
 as Ben Calder

In addition to saving Mandy Moore’s life, Matthew actually saves this movie from being an utter and total crapfest. Instead, with his charm and good looks, this movie is merely a mediocrefest.

And one of the many reasons that this movie actually sucks so hard is spelled J-E-R-E-M-Y P-I-V-E-N.

Jeremy Piven as Alan Weiss

Jeremy Piven plays a douchebag Secret Service agent, because every single casting director in Hollywood has his number on speed dial under 1, which stands for “#1 Douchebag.” He’s really good at it! So props for that? I guess? He sexually harasses his female partner until she falls for him, and he constantly makes jokes that aren’t funny. And when I realized that my fictional tax dollars were paying his fictional Secret Service salary, I BECAME FULL OF RAGE. Jeremy Piven totally does not deserve to be within 100 feet of Mandy Moore, let alone co-star in a movie with her.

Chemistry Grade: D

How, you might ask, it is possible for a movie starring the luminous Mandy Moore and the delicious Matthew Goode to score anything below an A+ in the swoon department? Fellow patriots, I grappled with this same question myself while watching this film. I banged my fist! I chugged my wine! I exchanged eye rolls and prolonged groans with Alix! But there was nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, that I could find hot about the relationship between these two characters. Maybe it was because Mandy Moore’s character was atrociously annoying? Or perhaps it had something to do with the fact that a Secret Service guy having sex with the 18-year-old First Daughter at a campsite is just NASTY? Seriously, what this movie did to these two insanely attractive actors is an honest to god crime that should be punishable by a court ordered inclusion of shirtless Matthew Goode clips in the DVD bonus features.

Most Mandy Moore-tastic Scene

Um, when she smiled at the end? I’ve… got nothing. But of course, Mandy is not at fault. (Mandy Moore is NEVER at fault.) The responsibility for this travesty lies firmly on the shoulders of the writers who created such an obnoxiously whiny brat of a character and then the director who forced Mandy to play her. Y’all, this girl Anna is THE WORST. She constantly complains about being the first daughter even though she gets to play Scrabble and eat snacks on Air Force One and go to fancy pants parties in Prague and LIVE IN THE FREAKING WHITE HOUSE. Her life is SO HARD, and she never gets to do ANYTHING SHE WANTS so she throws tantrums and runs away to other countries and jumps into trucks with Italian migrant workers and UGH I HATE HER. In other news, I hope Sasha and Malia NEVER SEE THIS FILM.

Mandy Moore Hair-O-Meter (5-10): 7

I was tempted to give Mandy’s hair the lowest score possible (a 5), but I bumped it up to a 7, because look how it started:

I mean, compared to that hot mess of Sun-In, her hair for the rest of the movie is, like, a Pantene commercial.

Best Mandy Moore Outfit

The movie starts out with a montage of Mandy Moore trying on clothes for her hot date. This montage tells you everything you need to know about the fashion in this movie.

Yes, that is a tie-dye crop top with a zipper collar.

Look, Mandy, I’m sorry to do this to you, but this outfit needs to be seen by the world so that this kind of crime is NEVER COMMITTED AGAIN. Seriously, who did this to you? WHO DID THIS TO YOU? I WILL MAKE THEM PAY.

And then there’s the pink formal gown she wears to the Prague party.

Y’all, Mandy Moore is not a large person. At all. But this dress makes her look, as my mom would say, “a bit hippy.” Or, as Alix would say, “HER HIPS LOOK HUGE.”

Amidst all of these sartorial disasters, at least there was one item of clothing that was pretty cute. This shirt!

Unfortunately, it was paired with the baggiest, most fugly jean cargo capris I have ever seen. Alix took a picture of the back just so you could stare into the eye (or butt, as it were) of FASHION HORROR.

Honestly, her best outfit was when she was wearing a sheet, and Matthew Goode was wearing something like this:

Wait, what am I talking about? The fashion was AMAZING IN THIS MOVIE.

Mandy Moore Incandescence Level: Mind-Blowingly Low

I’ve already discussed how the character of Anna tarnished Mandy Moore’s sparkle and shine. I’m still really shocked and appalled that Hollywood let this happen and LOOK I CAN’T TALK ABOUT IT ANYMORE BECAUSE I’M REALLY UPSET OK?

Can Mandy Moore Save This Movie: No

It breaks my heart to deliver this verdict, but it’s true. Even Mandy Moore, Light of Our Lives, cannot save this movie. Even Matthew Goode, with his sexy accent and bare chest, cannot save this movie. Even the bottle of wine and four champ cans that Alix and I shared could not save this film.

But hey, at least we live in a nation where we’re free to watch any Mandy Moore movie we want! So just don’t waste your liberty on this one.

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.