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Released in 1994, Guarding Tess was a comedy/drama starring Nicolas Cage as Doug Chesnic, a Secret Service agent tasked with protecting stubborn ex-First Lady Tess Carlisle (Shirley MacLaine) despite the fact he desperately wants to quit.

The first time we meet Doug, he's genuinely happy to not be Tess' personal bodyguard anymore and he's keen to move his career forward in Washington due to his relationship with Tess having been a tumultuous one as she's constantly disobeying protocol, making spontaneous demands and telling him off. Unfortunately for him, leaving isn't that easy since Tess can just call up the President directly every time and get him to encourage Doug to stay. This doesn't improve the characters' dynamic much as one of them tries to enforce by-the-book rules and the other makes a point of going against said rules. There's a predictability about this whole scenario: two people can't stand each other, they get to know each other, they start to like each other, yada yada yada, you know how it goes. It's whenever something out of the ordinary happens with Tess that things get interesting as we see Doug having to react appropriately and professionally while still being mostly pissed off.

Both Nicolas Cage and Shirley MacLaine are perfectly cast and very good in their respective roles, Doug and Tess start off as rather two-dimensional characters but, by the end, they've evolved quite a bit. The third act sees Tess actually get kidnapped and there's some suspense there as you wonder whether Doug and the rest of the Secret Service will manage to find her, and if they do, if she'll still be alive. Guarding Tess has its funny moments with Nicolas Cage reliably losing his cool every so often but it never turns into a farce, always prioritising character development. Again, while this is a well-made movie with some great performances, it's mostly exactly what you'd expect based on that type of plot. This is like one of those Oscar contenders you've never heard of but usually wins a Best Supporting Role statuette except this movie doesn't really stand out all that much. It's a well-told story and you do care about these characters, it just needed something a little extra.

There may not be too many huge surprises in this movie but it remains an enjoyable watch as what it lacks in originality, it makes up for in sharp writing, solid performances and sheer likability. There's very little wrong with Guarding Tess, just don't expect to remember it always.

Quite good.

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