Starring: Katie Holmes, Michael Keaton, Marc Blucas
Director: Marc Blucas
Running Time: 106 mins
First Daughter is an American film about the daughter of the President of the United States who, feeling like her life is too pampered, decides to go to college in California, as far away from the White House as possible, but the pressures of being part of the first family still remain as she attempts to navigate her own life as normal.
To be honest, I don’t really know what else I was expecting from a film like this. With the typical combination of an annoyingly trivial teen angst story, underwhelming comedy and half-hearted performances, First Daughter is one of many movies of this genre that just don’t provide any intrigue at all.
Let’s start with what I thought was the strangest part of this film: the performances. On the whole, I felt like the entire ensemble was miscast. Whilst I like Michael Keaton, I couldn’t buy him as the President, not to mention the weird caring/not caring father figure he plays; Marc Blucas was a convincing teenage heartthrob type, but his performance doesn’t quite work out with the direction his character goes later on in the film.
But the weirdest performance by a mile is from Katie Holmes. Now, there’s nothing that she does particularly wrong, although she’s not the most magnetic or dynamic on screen personality here, but it’s the fact that she’s just too old to play a high school/college aged girl. To the film’s target audience, 7 year old girls, it may work to give her character a little more maturity, but for anyone else, it just looks weird watching her (aged 26) playing this character. It’s a definite miscasting by the production crew, and that really makes for an odd and unconvincing watch throughout.
Beyond that, there is still all manner of problems. Most of all, the film’s focus on a teen angst story whilst providing next to no emotional depth is more annoying than anything else. It’s a genre that’s constantly irritating for anyone other than the target audience, but some films over the years (10 Things I Hate About You for example) have proven that it can work – when there is some care taken in the film’s emotional depth.
Here, however, we watch a group of human teenagers meander about the screen for the best part of an hour and a half complaining about the most tedious and generic ‘problems’. The fact that the film also takes them seriously, rather than introducing a note of more interesting reflection, is incredibly frustrating, giving me very little reason to stay interested throughout.
Overall, First Daughter is a predictably bad movie. Its dull, generic and irritating story about teenage problems is as painful as always, but it adds icing on the cake with a really weird cast, making this film both annoying and distracting all at once, which is why I’m giving it a 5.6.