About midway through the new Katie Holmes film, First Daughter, I discovered a hangnail on my left index finger. Fiercely gnawing away at my digit, I drew a little blood, and for the first time in nearly an hour, I felt something. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant sensation, but it was liberating. I had found a means to distract myself from the screen, to divert my waning attention from the cinematic scourge that was devouring my will to live. I began frantically searching for new bits of flesh that I might chew upon, or, failing that, for someone to come along and stomp on my toe or somehow trigger a massive coronary, anything to release me from the numbness that had taken hold. I began to wonder if I’d walked into the wrong theater; if, perhaps, I was watching a lifeless zombie movie with a shitty fairy-tale soundtrack.
Such is the pain of The First Daughter, a movie so mind-numbingly dull, its high point is a lame zinger from Jay Leno, who is the comedic equivalent of a root canal. Why this movie was made is beyond me, and how the producers managed to snag Katie Holmes, Michael Keaton, Forest Whitaker — or even cameos from Joan and Melissa Rivers — is unfathomable.
Penned by Jerry O’Connell - who has all the writing talent one would expect of Cush, his onscreen character in Jerry Maguire - First Daughter is the “story” of Samantha Mackenzie (Holmes), who is about to embark on her first year of college. Only Samantha is no ordinary college student. She is the daughter of the President of the United States, a premise that one would imagine is teeming with possibilities, none of which anyone bothers to explore. Instead, O’Connell and his writing team attempt to turn the First Daughter into something along the lines of the Princess Diaries or What a Girl Wants, both terrible movies, but at least they had their heart in the right place and a lead character in the same demographic as the target audience. First Daughter, on the other hand, has absolutely no heart, and its star is a 26 year old who lost all virginal credibility when she slept with Pacey the first time she portrayed a college student in Dawson’s Creek four years ago.
Taking cheap shots at Katie Holmes, however, is too easy, and also unfair. The only thing Holmes — who was marvelous in the indie gem Pieces of April - did wrong here was to sign on to this wreck of a screenplay. And will someone please explain to me why it is that Michael Keaton decided to make this his first mainstream film since Jack Frost, six years ago? Better still, would someone please explain to me what the hell happened to Michael Keaton? Why is he wasting away as a schmaltzy President, a role more suited to Larry Miller (Nutty Professor II) than to the original fucking Batman? Did Hollywood blackball him somewhere along the way and forget to tell the rest of us? And what about Forest Whitaker? Why would he take the helm on this picture, unless he’s punishing himself for accepting roles in Battlefield Earth or Ghost Dog? Mr. Whitaker, please don’t do this to yourself. You deserve better; this film is below even Teck Holmes (yes, the Teck from Real World Hawaii), who plays a bit part as Samantha’s roommate’s boyfriend.
Any critic that has anything remotely positive to say about First Daughter is either lying to you or smoking some wicked bad ganja. It is insulting even to the intelligence of the tweeny-bopper audience for which it is intended. There is absolutely nothing redeeming about this hackneyed, insipid bauble, except that the credits eventually do roll, though even they come an hour and forty-four minutes too late.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba and managing partner of its parent company, which prefers to remain anonymous for reasons pertaining to public relations. He lives in Ithaca, New York.
First Daughter / Dustin Rowles
Film | May 12, 2006 | Comments ()