First Daughter inhabits the same kind of fantasy world as films like The Princess Diaries, A Cinderella Story or The Prince and Me. It opens and closes with a fairy-tale narration (by the movies director, Forest Whitaker), but the story is not one of princes or princesses - at least, not the regular kind; here, the central character is the only daughter of the President of the US of A.
Samantha Mackenzie (Katie Holmes) loves and supports her dad, President Mackenzie (Michael Keaton) but she is also keen to break away from the family fold and a life that is constantly under scrutiny. It seems Samantha will be able to achieve this when she makes a much publicised departure for college on the other side of the coast. An ever-present army of minders and prying paparazzi that follow her around soon demolish that dream.
Samantha has problems from the start when she finds that her roommate, Mia (Amerie) is reluctant to share with her, until Samantha makes it a challenge that Mia cant refuse. Her attempts to lead some kind of normal campus life are disastrous and the last straw is when she goes to a pool party where over-zealous secret service men tackle a guy who is carrying a water pistol. Samantha rings her dad and pleads with him to lower her bodyguard quota and he agrees to limit it to just two - the silent, stony faced Agent Dylan (Dwayne Adway) and the much more user-friendly Agent Bock (Michael Milhoan).
When Samantha meets and falls for another student, James (Marc Blucas) her life begins to take on a smidgen of normalcy and she finally seems to have found some freedom. In an extravagant thank you to Mia and James, Samantha arranges for them to fly with her in Air Force One to a ball at the White House, but its a gesture that ends in tears when Samantha discovers who James really is.
Back at college, Sam reacts by shedding her nice girl image and performing a sexy table top dance in a bar, an embarrassing headline making stunt that brings her mother (Margaret Colin) running. She takes Samantha to Washington where she is expected to join her fathers campaign for re-election. Now back in the sober and sophisticated role of a first daughter, Samanthas brief fling at freedom and romance seems to be over. But, remember - this is a fairy tale of sorts, so convention demands a happy ending.