Monte Carlo

24 Jul

Title: Monte Carlo
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Thomas Bezucha
Writers: Thomas Bezucha, April Blair and Maria Maggenti, based on the screen story by Kelly Bowe, based on the novel by Jules Bass
Starring: 
Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy, Pierre Boulanger, Catherine Tate, Luke Bracey, Cory Monteith, Andie MacDowell
MPAA Rating: 
PG, brief mild language
Runtime: 
109 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
5.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 
39%

 

Monte Carlo is by no means a good film. It is, however, one that was actually better than I imagined it would be. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the film is undeniably an exercise in predictability and silly moments that never once even attempts to derive from its well-worn formulaic approach, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that in the midst of all that fluff this was a movie that had a few genuinely charming moments in it. And it’s not as though you’d watch a film like Monte Carlo expecting some sort of cinematic masterpiece, you know it’ll be a tween-aimed, harmless film featuring some nice locations, some handsome faces, and a whole lot of stuff going on so that you don’t catch on to the fact that this really is about nothing that quickly.

Let it be said, however, that just how much you’ll fall into the whole cutesy act put on by Monte Carlo relies quite a bit on just how much you like Selena Gomez, our current Disney tween princess. I personally don’t really like Ms. Gomez all that much, I mean she has the charm and is cute, but for some reason she just doesn’t do it for me, it may be the fact that she’s dating Justin Bieber, I don’t know, I just don’t really like her all that much, but that’s just me and the fact is that she’s actually pretty damn likable to most people. So that makes her playing the lead here, a high school graduate called Grace, a smart move because she has the energy for it and she’s cute and the target audience of this film will totally buy her as this doe-eyed girl who had been saving up for years to get a graduation trip to Paris.

And of course, once Grace eventually finds herself going on that trip there’ll be a guy who’ll fall in love with her, there will be mistaken identities that get Grace to experience a lavish life, and it’s all fun but there’s really nothing going on plotwise for you to really connect. However, even though I don’t really like Ms. Gomez which disabled me from really loving this movie, I do really like Katie Cassidy and Leighton Meester, the two other young actresses that join her in the adventure. Ms. Cassidy, who was terrific in the otherwise crappy CW reboot of Melrose Place and was equally good in her arc on Gossip Girl, plays Emma, Grace’s best friend who tags along, while Ms. Meester, a star of the aforementioned Gossip Girl, plays Meg, Grace’s stepsister, who, much to Grace’s dismay, it’s been arranged will be joining the two in the trip.

The incident of the mistaken identity has Ms. Gomez playing two characters, the ordinary and plain Grace as well as Cordelia Winthrop Scott, a British girl who has the obnoxious name that obviously indicates she’s the heir to a huge fortune. And you know what’ll come next, because you’ve seen it before in a lot of movies, there will be hugely luxurious hotels, handsome young men, private jets and pricey clothes, it’s like a Sex and the City film without the sex part and aimed at girls a decade shy from a quarter-life crisis instead of at women in the midst of a mid-life one, and considering the line-up includes marquee names of the Disney and CW empires, not to mention Cory Monteith from Glee, you can bet that the target audience will fall for it handily enough.

Another thing that prevented me from really liking Monte Carlo at all was the fact that Ms. Gomez just doesn’t seem like a high school graduate. I know the girl is 19, the same age as me, but her whole Disney cred makes her seem more like 14 more often than not, and that made her performance as Cordelia totally horrible to watch, as though this was an ordinary teenager playing dress-up, and being challenged by the prospect of high heels, instead of an actress tackling a role more serious in its tonality and showing she has some range. Thankfully, Ms. Cassidy is solid, and Ms. Meester is actually good, which in a movie of this type is something worth congratulating.

But I was left wholly unimpressed by this film, the actresses are solid enough for this sort of entertainment, and I reckon that if I was a fan of Ms. Gomez, like the target of this film presumably is, I would probably like this film much better, and the locations are pretty damn cool, even though the opportunities provided by them were squandered by some totally underwhelming photography. And as the modern fairytale about a girl who finds herself by being someone else, Monte Carlo manages to nab a couple of charming moments that made me hold up some hope for its entirety, but it’s just too inconsequential and contrived a movie for there to be any sort of real meaning to it, though to be honest, this is summer time, and this is a film that’s breezy enough and as entertainment for tween girls it’s probably good enough. And I’ll give it a strong C instead of a C- for two reasons: One is that Catherine Tate makes an appearance and she alone merits a whole grade bump, and the other is that Michael Giacchino did the score, even though, considering this is the sort of film it is, it’s more often than not cut short in favor of silly pop songs.

Grade: C

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