‘Monte Carlo’ offers innocent, predictable fun

Charlotte Kyle
Features Editor

Photo courtesy of allmoviephoto.com

I love ridiculous plots, cheesy romantic moments and dorky jokes.

Because of that, combined with my love of teen star Selena Gomez, I was absolutely convinced I would love “Monte Carlo.”

The film, which hit the theaters this summer and is now available on DVD, stars Gomez, Katie Cassidy and Leighton Meester – a dream team of teen telecasts.

Gomez plays Grace, a Texan teen ready to graduate high school and take a European vacation. She’s an outcast in high school and works at a diner – see Hilary Duff in “A Cinderella Story” without the evil stepmother.

Her best friend Emma (Cassidy, “Melrose Place”) will take the trip with her. In an effort to force Grace to bond with her step-sister Meg (Meester, “Gossip Girl”), the duo’s parents decide to send her along for the journey, too.

The gang, of course, ends up on the worst tour ever – one that features a montage of Paris sights and wacky antics in a small, crappy hotel room. As if Grace’s life couldn’t get any worse, Meg and Emma can’t stop fighting because they’re total opposites and have never gotten along.

The drama feels forced, and while Gomez plays the gal-in-the-middle role fine, it’s hard to buy into the tension when all signs point to “let’s be BFFs” in the end.

The plot gets crazier, of course, when Grace is mistaken for a British heiress named Cordelia. Emma convinces Grace to play along and suddenly the girls are living the good life – all Grace has to do is pretend to be British and mean.

The sidekicks in the film get their own plots while Grace is pretending to be an heiress.

Uptight Meg finds herself enamored with a carefree stranger who teaches her to relax.

Adventurous Emma, who left her boyfriend (Cory Monteith, “Glee”) back in Texas, becomes the object of affection for a Prince. She finds herself trying to adapt to the rich lifestyle she always wanted.

These plots aren’t quite as interesting, but both actresses are believable in their roles. The characters aren’t fleshed out enough to make a lasting impression and the love interests are rather bland, but if you get past the predictability you can enjoy their side adventures.

There have been a lot of comparison by Disney fans to 2003’s “The Lizzie McGuire Movie” and while both movies feature mistaken identities and riding on mopeds, the movie feels like a Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen movie more than anything.

It has all of the elements of a straight-to-DVD Olsen movie: love interests for each main character, montages of riding in cars set to a score of upbeat pop songs, montages of trying on clothes and doing make-up, probably some other type of montage and a ridiculous, unrealistic ending in which the main characters don’t get in trouble while the bad guy is punished just for being a bitch.

The only difference is that this movie was promoted as Gomez’s first grown-up role, and it actually hit theaters.

Let’s get this straight: this is not a teen movie. Despite the older cast, this movie is aimed at your little sister or your kid cousin. Sure, you can watch it and you might even enjoy it for what it is, but any inconsistencies and plot holes were ignored since the target audience probably wouldn’t catch them.

If you don’t take the movie too seriously then you can have a good time watching it. You just have to remember it is a rated PG fluff flick.

Gomez is ridiculously charming as both Grace and Cordelia. The Disney queen had to not only use her natural Texan dialect but also learn a British accent and a Texan-impersonating-a-British-accent-badly accent.

Something about Gomez lights up the screen, and her chemistry with both Cassidy and Meester is perfect. Fans of the actress will ignore any faults with the movie simply because she’s cute.

She plays the comedy role well and pulls off the emotional scenes like a pro. The flaws of the movie are not hers, but rather the story itself and the editing overall.

At the very least this movie proves that Gomez can carry a movie as a lead character and perform outside of the Disney Channel bubble.

Was this her breakout role? Probably not, but unlike her character in this film, she wasn’t quite ready to leave her younger self behind.

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