Chasing Liberty is a 2004 American romantic comedy film directed by Andy Cadiff and starring Mandy Moore and Matthew Goode. Written by Derek Guiley and David Schneiderman, the film is about the eighteen-year-old daughter of the President of the United States whose rebellion against the constant presence of Secret Service agents in her life leads to a European adventure and an unexpected romance. Chasing Liberty was filmed on location in Prague, Venice, Berlin, London, and Washington, D.C.
Anna Foster (Mandy Moore) is the daughter of President of the United States James Foster (Mark Harmon). After Secret Service agents ruin a first date, Anna demands less supervision. For his upcoming trip to Prague, the president agrees to assign only two agents to watch over Anna, whose Secret Service codename is Liberty. In Prague, Anna and her friend Gabrielle La Clare (Beatrice Rosen) attend a concert, where Anna discovers numerous agents in the crowd. Believing her father has broken his promise, Anna eludes her protectors with Gabrielle's help. Outside the theater, she asks Ben Calder (Matthew Goode) for a ride on his motorbike. Unknown to Anna, Ben is a Secret Service agent, and he informs agents Alan Weiss (Jeremy Piven) and Cynthia Morales (Annabella Sciorra) where she can be found. When the president learns of her behavior, he instructs Ben to guard Anna without revealing his true identity, to give her the illusion of freedom with a guarantee of safety.
Believing she is finally free, Anna jumps into the Vltava River naked, mistaking it for the Danube, and she and Ben climb a rooftop to watch an Offenbach opera being shown in a plaza. The next morning, Anna calls her parents. Initially relieved that his daughter is safe, the President's tone changes when he is shown photos of her undressing. Outraged at her father's tone, Anna decides she will go to the Love Parade in Berlin. She and Ben board a train, where they meet Scotty McGruff (Martin Hancock), a flighty romantic who gives them a stack of Six Million Dollar Man stickers, instructing them to post them in random places, and one day when they are unhappy, they may come across one and it will make them smile. Ben discovers that they have boarded a Venice-bound train going in the opposite direction from Berlin.
In Venice, after checking in with agents Weiss and Morales—who are now growing closer romantically—Ben joins Anna and McGruff and together they explore the city. After McGruff leaves, Anna realizes he has stolen her wallet. When Anna is recognized by tourists, she and Ben flee. With no money, they tell a kind-hearted gondolier, Eugenio (Joseph Long), that they recently married against her parents' wishes. During the free gondola ride, Ben kisses Anna to hide her from their pursuers. When he learns the "newlyweds" have no place to stay, Eugenio invites them to his house, where they are welcomed by his mother, Maria (Miriam Margolyes). That night, thinking their kiss was heartfelt, Anna offers herself to Ben, but he rejects her advances.
The next day, Eugenio drives them to the Austrian border, as Weiss and Morales show up at Maria's house and learn from Maria that Anna and Ben are married, which is then reported to Anna's parents. Upset at Ben's rejection, Anna hitchhikes a ride in a truck, leaving Ben to chase her through the Austrian countryside. Anna comes to a bridge, where she meets the Jumping Germans, a bungee jumping group. Ben arrives just as Anna is being strapped into the harness, and insists on jumping with her.
Later that evening at the Jumping Germans' camp, one of the Germans asks Anna to share his tent for the night. She refuses and flirts with Ben, who rejects her advances again. Upset, she declares that she will share the German's tent after all; Ben finally admits his feelings for Anna and they spend the night together. At the Love Parade, as Ben explains his actions on the phone to his fellow agents, Anna discovers his identity. Enraged at the apparent betrayal, Anna runs off, only to be harassed by a group of men who recognize her. Ben rescues her, and Anna and her family return to the United States.
While preparing for college, Anna reveals to her mother that her heart is "a little bit broken." At college, with Weiss and Morales (who plan to marry) still protecting her, Anna sees a Six Million Dollar Man sticker which reminds her of her European adventure. During Christmas break Anna's father tells her that Ben resigned from the Secret Service and is working as a photographer in London. During an exchange program to Oxford University Anna visits Ben at the opera, where they kiss, reconcile, and escape on his motorbike.
- Mandy Moore as First Daughter Anna Foster
- Matthew Goode as Special Agent Ben Calder
- Stark Sands as Grant Hillman
- Jeremy Piven as Special Agent Alan Weiss
- Annabella Sciorra as Special Agent Cynthia Morales
- Mark Harmon as President James Foster
- Caroline Goodall as First Lady Michelle Foster
- Tony Jayawardena as White House Guard
- Sam Ellis as Phil
- Terence Maynard as Harper
- Lewis Hancock as Press Secretary
- Garrick Hagon as Secretary of State
- Zac Benoir as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
- Jan Goodman as National Security Advisor
- Robert Ashe as Chief of Staff
- Beatrice Rosen as Gabrielle la Claire
- Martin Hancock as Scotty McGruff
- Joseph Long as Eugenio
- Miriam Margolyes as Maria
- Adrian Bouchet as Gus Gus
- The Roots as Themselves
The storyline was directly inspired by Chelsea Clinton, who was photographed trying to blend in with other students at a Stanford basketball game.
The problem that Anna Foster (Moore) faces in the film--excessively protective Secret Service agents who behave intrusively, like unwanted chaperones, whenever protecting the children of United States Government officials--had previously provided story material for the 1980 comedy First Family, which had starred Bob Newhart as the President of the United States.
The story in many ways echoes the 1953 romantic comedy Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn and Eddie Albert. Hepburn played a princess who slips away from her handlers to be squired around Rome, also on a motor scooter, by Peck, not realizing that he knows her identity and plans a magazine story. In both films, the leads are accompanied by a goofy friend, in this case played by Albert.
The exterior scenes of the White House were in fact filmed at Hylands House in Chelmsford, Essex, England, because of its resemblance to the White House. Blueprints of the White House were also used to create a digital replica, which helped make the exterior scenes look authentic. These blueprints caused the director some trouble when traveling to Washington, D.C., as his suitcase also contained source material about the Oval Office, among other things. He did make it to Washington, D.C.
- Washington, D.C., United States
- Prague, Czech Republic
- Venice, Italy
- Berlin, Germany
- London, England
- Hylands House, Chelmsford, Essex, England
- Barrandov Studios, Prague, Czech Republic
- Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England
The music soundtrack was nominated for the World Soundtrack Award in 2004.
- "American Girl" - written by Tom Petty and performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
- "Life Will Go On" - written and performed by Chris Isaak
- "If I'm Not in Love" - written by Dawn Thomas and performed by Faith Hill
- "Stop the Rock" - written by Hoxley, Gray, Gray, Noko and performed by Apollo 440
- "Vivi Davvero" - written and performed by Giorgia
- "Stay Away" - written by Robert Schwartzman and performed by Rooney
- "Melody" - written by Joe DuBass Henson, Darren Rose, Wasi and performed by 7th Sun
- "The Seed" - written by Tariq Trotter and Cody ChesnuTT and performed by The Roots
- "Deja Vu" - written by Frantisek Cerny and performed by Frantisek Cerny, Milan Cimfe and Pavel Karlik
- "If You Won't" - written and performed by Jesse Harris
- "Who Needs Shelter" - written by Jason Mraz, Eric Schermerhorn and Chris Keup and performed by Jason Mraz
- "Get Busy" - written by Sean Paul, S. Marsden and performed by Sean Paul
- "You're Free" - written by John Ciafone, Lem Springsteen, Ultra Naté, Paul Masterson and performed by Yomanda
- "Satisfaction" - written by A Benassi and performed by Benny Benassi presents The Biz
- "Wide Open Space" - written by Paul Draper and performed by Mansun
- "Nessun dorma" - written by Giacomo Puccini and performed by Amici Forever
- "To Be With You" - written by Caroline Lost, Christian Henson and performed by Caroline Lost
Chasing Liberty opened on January 9, 2004, worldwide in 2,400 theatres, earning $6,081,483 on its opening weekend. It went on to gross $12,195,626 domestically with an additional $117,697 in foreign revenue, totaling $12,313,323 in worldwide gross earnings, failing to bring back its $23 million budget.
The film received a lukewarm response from critics, but was nominated for four Teen Choice Awards. Chasing Liberty scored a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 116 reviews. Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post wrote, "Chasing Liberty will probably win over as many fuddy-duddy fathers as fillies with its mixture of sweetness tempered with genial cynicism."
Roger Ebert gave the film a two out of four star rating and found it "surprisingly good in areas where it doesn't need to be good at all, and pretty awful in areas where it has to succeed." Ebert did appreciate Moore's performance, writing, "Moore is just plain likeable, a slurpee blended from scoops of Mary Tyler Moore, Sally Field and Doris Day."
In his ReelViews review, James Berardinelli called Chasing Liberty "a fairly standard-issue teen romantic comedy."
In his review in the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle wrote, "Chasing Liberty is a kind of remake of "It Happened One Night" (1934), updated and retooled for a young audience that won't recognize the connection." LaSalle applauds the film's ability to evoke a young girl's experience of being on her own for the first time, writing, "Anna and Ben romp through Prague and, later, Venice, having adventures and misadventures and meeting various colorful characters, and it's all quite engaging. We understand what this freedom means to Anna, partly thanks to Moore's expressive intelligence, but also through director Andy Cadiff's technique. We see a rock concert, a late-night outdoor screening of an operatic film and the splendors of historic cities through the eyes of a young girl experiencing them for the first time."
- Chasing Liberty at AllMovie
- Chasing Liberty at Rotten Tomatoes
- Chasing Liberty at Box Office Mojo
- Chasing Liberty at The Numbers