Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Teen Comedy, Romance
Opens locally Friday, July 1st, 2011
Run Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes, Rated PG
Starring: Selena Gomez, Katie Cassidy, Leighton Meester, Luke Bracey
Co-written & Directed by Thomas Bezucha (The Family Stone)
Expectations are a funny thing. Go into the wrong movie with great expectations, and you are bound to end up hating what you see, or at the very least, you'll walk out disappointed. Go into a movie not expecting much, and you are often times surprised. In the case of "Monte Carlo," my below average expectation level heading into the theatre led me to be mildly amused with the outcome.
There's no hiding the audience this movie was met for: Teen and pre-teen girls. The story sees best friends Grace (Selena Gomez) and Emma (Katie Cassidy) planning a trip to Paris after graduation. Grace's seemingly uptight step-sister Meg (Leighton Meester) is sent with them even though she does not get along at all with Grace. On vacation, they come across the arrogant rich heiress, Cordelia Winthrop Scott, and notice a striking resemblance between her and Grace (they should, both roles are played by Gomez.) They get an opportunity for Grace to assume Cordelia's life, and they take it, soon finding out it was much more than they bargained for.
"Monte Carlo" uses the worn-out mistaken identity plot, plugs in three red-hot young actresses, puts them in exotic locations, and then surrounds them by hunky teenage hearthrobs. Sprinkle in some light comedy, a bit of romance, and a few positive messages and you have yourself a run-of-the-mill teen-comedy. The director Thomas Bezucha handles all of this schlop well enough, but it clearly never set out to be anything more than a digestable, simple film.
In the early portions of the film, I found it laughable that the characters were complaining in the middle of a paid-for trip to Paris. Poor, poor, rich gals. The film is predictable from the get go, a plot and premise we've seen all to often. Some of the intended comedy falls painfully flat, and we see where each character is going way before they do, since we've seen each of these characters before, only in other movies of the same type.
But despite all of this, I didn't find any of the main characters annoying. I know that isn't much of an endorsement, but I actually began to like the characters in the film...2-dimensional, cardboard characters that they may be. I didn't know too much about Selena Gomez or Katie Cassidy before this film, but after seeing it I can understand why they are talked about with such potential for success. Gomez's Cordelia was played a bit oddly, not quite selling the character's rich-bitch attitude...Cordelia dresses and acts like a wealthy heiress, but Gomez's youth takes away from her believability. When Selena is Grace however, she has all the makings of a charismatic young starlet...given material much loftier than this.
In the end, if you go into "Monte Carlo" expecting to be thrilled, over-whelmed, or given a life-changing experience, you will be greatly disappointed. But not every movie sets out to take over the world. "Monte Carlo" is a serviceable teen rom-com that I think it's intended audience will dig...even if they don't use outdated terms of endearment like "dig."
Be sure to check out my interview with Selena Gomez, when she was in Detroit promoting "Monte Carlo."
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