This is not a joke. If there’s one thing in the world I take seriously, it’s Mandy Moore. I feel like her movies played a large role in my teenage years. And I still watch them more than most people probably do. Just the other day I sat down and watched the entirety of “Because I Said So” by myself. Because I own it and I wanted to.
Thank you, Kaely, for inspiring this idea. Sorry I’m not writing the entire post on our discovery of Mandy Moore’s hair color/character development correlation, but here’s a bit of our theory: in movies where her hair starts out blonde and remains blonde, she’s a bitch (i.e. “Saved!” and “Princess Diaries”). In movies where she starts brunette and stays that way, she’s the heroine (i.e. “Because I Said So” and “A Walk to Remember” and most of her other movies). In movies where she starts blonde and ends up brunette, she’s much happier and surer of herself once she has brown hair (i.e. “Chasing Liberty” and “Tangled”). Kaely and I are basically the Hardy Brothers of Mandy Moore movies.
Here’s my list of favorites:
6. “Chasing Liberty”
Remember that movie “First Daughter” starring Katie Holmes? It came out the same year as “Chasing Liberty” and it was essentially the same plot. Except horrible. “Chasing Liberty” is wonderful. Mandy Moore stars as Anna Foster, daughter of the president. She is stifled by her father’s shadow and longs to be free of the secret service’s overbearing presence. So her best friend Gabrielle (Beatrice Rosen) dyes Anna’s hair brown (see above) and she goes undercover as a normal American teenager going to a music festival in Berlin. Along with super-hot British photographer/undercover agent Ben Calder (Matthew Goode) and the amazing Scotty McGruff (Martin Hancock), she goes on a 3 day adventure around Europe. There’s romance, there’s intrigue, there’s betrayal, there’s skinny dipping and bungee jumping, there’s Jeremy Piven as a secret service agent. This movie has it all. It’s silly as hell but it’s also sweet and it reminds me of being 15 years old.
5. “How to Deal”
Sarah Dessen was my favorite as a teenager. Her books “That Summer” and “Someone Like You” were weirdly combined to create this horribly cheesy and wonderful young adult movie. My best friends and I were pretty much obsessed with the story of Halley, her wacko family, her best friend Scarlett (Alexandra Holden), and her love interest Macon Forrester (Trent Ford). After Macon’s best friend and Scarlett’s boyfriend Michael Sherwood dies, the three bond together to face the tragedy and Scarlett’s pregnancy. Halley’s dealing with her father’s (Peter Gallagher) remarriage, her sister’s (Mary Garrison) marriage, and her mother (Allison Janney) and grandmother (Nina Foch) being crazy. And meanwhile, Macon is helping her through it, being all adorable and perfect. My friends and I were obsessed with the Macon from the movies. The Macon from the book isn’t as wonderful from what I remember. But Trent Ford was perfect. He was never quite on par with our Shane West obsession, but he was up there. This is another movie that I probably shouldn’t still love, but I do. Deal with it (see what I did there…?).
4. “Because I Said So”
I think it’s safe to assume that by now we all know I love Mandy Moore. I also happen to love Lauren Graham, Piper Perabo, and Gabriel Macht. And they are all in this movie! Plus cake and polka dots! This movie is ridiculous. Diane Keaton plays Daphne, mother to the Wilder girls: Maggie (Graham), Mae (Perabo), and Milly (Moore). Maggie and Mae are both married, but Daphne is worried about youngest daughter Milly who is unlucky in love. Daphne decides to post an ad online for a boyfriend for her daughter. She picks Jason (Tom Everett Scott) as her perfect match. Milly dates both Jason and crazy hot single dad/musician Johnny (Macht) at the same time. It’s a love triangle with an obvious outcome, but it’s more the story of a mom and daughter. I usually hate movies that use the trope of “young couple falls in love, then their single parents also fall in love” because it creeps me out, but I don’t mind it in this movie. Also, did I mention all the beautiful cakes and fun polka dots?
This movie is a little different than the others on this list because Mandy Moore isn’t actually the star. I still love it, though. Jena Malone plays Mary, who goes to a super religious Christian school. She has a perfect boyfriend named Dean (Chad Faust) and a best friend named Hilary Faye (Moore). When Dean tells her he thinks he’s gay, she has sex with him to prove otherwise. Dean’s parents send him away to “solve” his homosexuality and Mary finds out she’s pregnant. Hilary Faye no longer wants to be her friend, so Mary befriends Jewish student Cassandra Edelstein (Eva Amurri) and Hilary Faye’s wheelchair-bound brother Roland (Macaulay Culkin). She starts a relationship with the principal/pastor’s son Patrick (Patrick Fugit) who is super cute. For those of you who haven’t seen it, this movie doesn’t sound like it would be that great, but it’s actually really funny. Also, Mary’s mom and Patrick’s dad are totally doing it in this movie. Why is that always a thing? Anyway, watch this movie. Mandy Moore is amazingly good at playing a fanatically religious teenager.
I’m about to blow some people’s minds: I like “Tangled” better than “Frozen.” Gasp! Let me give you a minute to compose yourself. Ready? Okay. I love Zachary Levi as Flynn Rider. I love Mandy Moore as Rapunzel. I love Donna Murphy as Mother Gothel. I love the animal sidekicks. I love the music. I love the lanterns. This movie is so sweet, and I know that if it had come out when I was little, Rapunzel would have been up there with Belle and Ariel as my favorite princess. Mother Gothel kidnaps baby Rapunzel for her hair’s magical ability to keep Mother young. Rapunzel thinks she is her real mother. She longs to go out and find the source of the lanterns she sees in the sky every year on her birthday. She eventually escapes with the help of Flynn Ryder, and they go on an adventure, falling in love along the way. If you haven’t seen it, then you should. As with basically every other movie on this list, if you can get a Mandy Moore movie along with Mandy Moore music, you automatically have a winner.
1. “A Walk to Remember”
Sigh. This movie. I actually kind of hate Nicholas Sparks books, but I read a bunch of them after seeing this movie. I watched it with my two best friends in middle school. And obviously Shane West became our obsession. Shane West was probably my biggest celebrity crush ever. I watched “A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” simply because of he was in it. “Get Over It,” which is a wonderful movie, is only made that much better because of the inclusion of Shane West. “A Walk to Remember” is just perfect. Landon Donavon (West) is a popular jerky guy, leader of his little group of “cool” friends. Jamie Sullivan (Moore) is a quiet, religious girl who keeps to herself. After Landon gets in trouble when a prank on another student goes wrong, he is forced to participate in various school activities, most of which Jamie already participates in. She helps him remember his lines for the play and they become friends. He eventually asks her out, which she reluctantly accepts. They fall in love, he finds out her secret, everyone cries and swoons in equal measure. Seriously, this movie made me cry so much when I was 13. I read the book too, but I actually like the movie better (it’s so rare that happens to me, but for some reason that seems to be the pattern for Mandy Moore movies based on books).
So, there you have it. Should I be embarrassed by my sincere love of these movies? Perhaps, but I don’t really care. Mandy Moore is my favorite, and I want to be her when I grow up. I leave you with this: