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Fox Home Entertainment presents
First Daughter (2004)

"All I want is normal."
- Samantha (Katie Holmes)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: February 02, 2005

Stars: Katie Holmes, Mark Blucas
Other Stars: Amerie Rogers, Margaret Colin, Lela Rochon Fuqua, Michael Keaton
Director: Forest Whitaker

MPAA Rating: PG for language, sexual situations, and alcohol-related material
Run Time: 01h:44m:00s
Release Date: January 25, 2005
UPC: 024543160458
Genre: romantic comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- CB+B C-

DVD Review

First Daughter is a "cute movie"-lovers movie. Cute movie lovers are those people who will pay to see anything in the theater and, as long as the story is light and fluffy and everything wraps up nicely in the end, they will proclaim it a "cute movie." Sometimes the qualifier is applied too liberally ("Aw, the ending of Kill Bill 2 was cute!"), but the latest uninspiring film on the resume of Dawson's Creek star Katie Holmes fits the bill perfectly.

Of course, another hallmark of the cute movie crowd, at least in my experience, is a vehement insistence that those who don't like such films are too critical and should just shut up (a phenomenon I experienced first-hand after seeing Legally Blonde 2 with a friend and his girlfriend, as every time he and I would discuss a part of it we hated, she'd say, "You guys, come on, that was a cute movie!", except angrier). So if you don't mind extremely formulaic, blandly acted, by-the-numbers cute movies, you'll probably like First Daughter, a fairly average entry in a very crowded field.

It's not unusual for two similar Hollywood movies to go into production at the same time, but usually it's because the concept is fairly broad—two films about a volcano destroying a city or an asteroid threatening earth. Not two films about the president's daughter wishing for a normal life and falling in love. Nevertheless, both First Daughter and the Mandy Moore vehicle Chasing Liberty came out in 2004 (and in fact, at one point, were scheduled for release on the very same weekend, before Fox bumped the former to fall). High-concept Teen Romance version 2.0, with Holmes, is from a script by Jessica Bendinger (Bring It On, a cute movie that works) and Kate Kondell (Legally Blonde 2, a, uh, sequel to Legally Blonde), directed by sometime actor Forest Whitaker.

Holmes is Samantha, a recent high school graduate who just wants a little independence from her parents, except her dad (Michael Keaton) is president of the United States, which makes it a bit difficult. She starts college but finds it difficult to have a normal freshman experience while surrounded by secret service agents (who don't understand drunken debauchery and frequent anonymous sex is number two on the list of college activities, just below sleep and slightly ahead of downloading term papers, illegal MP3s, and pornography). (Or so I hear.) But then she finally meets someone she connects with: dreamboat James Lansome (Marc Blucas, the most boring black ops military commando ever to boff Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who hasn't grown any new charisma in the years since he left that series). Except Lansome (I guess they felt just going for it and calling him John Handsome was too on-the-nose) has an unspoken duty, a covert job he must perform, a service that he must keep secret, if you will. Oh, I'm sorry, did I give it all away?

Holmes, who was, as far as I'm concerned, the only valid reason to watch Dawson's Creek from the third season onwards, is fairly likeable despite a somewhat shallow, bratty character (her quest for a "normal life" seems more like petty resentment towards poor old dad), but she's surrounded by a bland cast (in addition to Blucas, there's Amerie Rogers as the Black Best Friend Who Keeps It Real) and a script pieced together from every other romantic comedy ever made. It's a nice-looking movie, at least (though Whitaker lays on the "fairy tale magic" a little thick), but it's never really entertaining or engaging, just one of those movies that you watch because it's on and that's about it—an okay timewaster but not really worth your time.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: This double-sided disc offers both anamorphic widescreen and an open matte full screen transfers. The picture quality is pretty good—colors are saturated, and the image shows off detail well, despite a slight softness. It's nothing outstanding, but pretty standard for recent romantic comedy.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 audio is what you'd expect from a romantic comedy: Heavy emphasis on the front soundstage, with little input from the surrounds. Dialogue is always clear, and there are a few instances of stereo separation, and that's about it.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
2 Deleted Scenes
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by actors Katie Holmes, Marc Blucas, and Amerie Rogers
Packaging: Keep Case
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Actors Katie Holmes, Marc Blucas, and Amerie (single name like Madonna, they joke, ha ha... Your last name is Rogers, deal with it) contribute one of the most obscenely boring commentary tracks of all time. First of all, they don't even talk that much, not even with the three of them there—they go through long periods of silence even few minutes. Also, they say absolutely nothing aside from, "I like this scene," or maybe, "You are so good here, Katie." I'm not expecting great insights from a track like this (it's proof positive, as far as I'm concerned, that the drive for bullet points to list on the back of a DVD case has gotten out of hand), but it would be nice to be kept awake, or at least reminded that, yes, I did turn the commentary on.

Aside from a dull pair of deleted scenes (none of which are worth much, though a certain segment of the audience will enjoy the sequence with Katie Holmes dancing drunkenly on top of a bar, in a cowboy hat, no less), the disc includes two featurettes, one an explanation of the choreography in the ballroom dance sequences (zzzzzzzz..., even if there is some cute footage of Holmes), and the other, a tribute to the late Michael Kamen, who scored part of the movie before he passed away and was replaced by Blake Neely. Neely, a longtime friend and co-worker of Kamen's, shares some of his memories of the Oscar-winner, to whom the film itself is dedicated. Which is nice and all, I guess, but it's sort of like when they dedicate an episode of The Amazing Race to victims of the tsunami disaster. Like, thanks.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

First Daughter is a fairly routine entry in the most well-mined of genres; I can't even praise the premise as original, considering the same exact movie opened around the same time. If you're a huge Katie Holmes fan, try a rental, but otherwise, limit your presidential offspring fantasies to the Bush twins.


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