So when Anna (Mandy Moore) accompanies her father, President James Foster (Mark Harmon), and her mother, Michelle Foster (Caroline Goodall), to Prague, she takes the opportunity to have a night out on the town. When she spots a phalanx of Secret Service agents when her father promised there would be no more than two, Anna rebels, taking off on a motorcycle tour of Europe with a vacationing Brit (Matthew Goode).
What Anna does not know is that Goode's Ben Calder is a Secret Service agent himself, and that her father has decided to allow her the illusion of freedom for a week or two. In this post-Sept. 11 world, it was wise of writers Derek Guiley and David Schneiderman to have Calder be an agent, both for credibility and for suspense: How will Calder handle the inevitable attraction that will set in between him and Anna?
Meanwhile, the writers work in an amusing subplot, in which a pair of other agents (Jeremy Piven and Annabella Sciorra) following the couple confront their own blossoming mutual attraction. On the whole, the film is stronger in deft characterization than in inspired incidents.
While it is refreshing that director Andy Cadiff and the writers allow both couples time to develop relationships, "Chasing Liberty" threatens to turn into a travelogue, an all-out Grand Tour, with sequences in Venice, Berlin, London, etc. The film means to be an unpretentious, engaging romantic comedy but stretches its charm awfully thin with a 110-minute running time. It's hard to understand why no one considered tightening the script, eliminating repetitious material before going into production or editing the film more tightly after it was shot.
The young women and girls who comprise the film's target audience are more likely to be patient with its leisurely pacing than are their elders, even though Piven and Sciorra are delightful in romantic roles that don't usually come their way. Moore and Goode are sure-fire charmers, and while "Chasing Liberty" is easy to take, its slackness is wearying.
MPAA rating: PG-13 for sexual content and brief nudity.
Times guidelines: Suitable family fare.
Mandy Moore...Anna Foster
Matthew Goode...Ben Calder
Jeremy Piven...Alan Weiss
Annabella Sciorra...Cynthia Morales
Caroline Goodall...Michelle Foster
Mark Harmon...President James Foster
A Warners Bros. release of an Alcon Entertainment presentation of a Trademark Films production. Director Andy Cadiff. Producers David Parfitt, Broderick Johnson, Andrew A. Kosove. Executive producer Wayne Rice. Screenplay by Derek Guiley & David Schneiderman. Cinematographer Ashley Rowe. Editor Jon Gregory. Music Christian Henson. Costumes Rosie Hackett. Production designer Martin Childs. Art directors Hannah Moseley, Martin Kurel. Set decorator Tina Jones.
In general release.