Monte Carlo

I think it goes without saying that movies like Monte Carlo aren’t made for us.  Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that we are a group of cinematic heathens, devouring or destroying everything flashed across the silver screen.  So stepping into a mostly empty theater for the likes of this is always an odd experience for us, especially in a summer with so much that was made specifically for our special brand of cinephile.  As a nearly thirty year old male, its of little surprise that I don’t have much familiarity with the cast of this teen-sized Sex and the City nor does the general plot carry much interest for me.  But, because we love you and want to save you from wasting your hard earned money on a cinematic lemon, Matt and I decided to grin and bear it and were actually a little surprised with what we found.

Monte Carlo is the story of a young woman named Grace (Selena Gomez) who was over high school before it began.  Since she was fourteen years old, Grace has been scrimping and saving for a glorious graduation trip to Paris that she intends to take with her best friend Emma (Katie Cassidy), a slightly older and slightly simpler co-worker at the local diner.  On the eve of her life changing trip, Grace’s parents decide to drop the bomb that her uptight step-sister Meg (Leighton Meester) will be joining the pair on their journey.  After arriving in Paris, Grace discovers it isn’t all its cracked up to be when she realizes that their whirlwind tour is just that, leaving them with only brief glances at all of the wonderful sights she had been planning to see for years.  But after getting ditched by their tour group at the Eiffel Tower and stumbling into a particularly glitzy hotel to get out of the rain, they discover their golden ticket.  Namely Grace’s doppelganger in the form of a rich Paris Hilton-esque socialite named Cordelia who is planning on ditching out on an important charity ball in Monte Carlo to go hang with friends on a private beach.

Paris is TOTALLY fun...except all the rape and pickpockets

Grace decides to step into the heiress’s Manolo Blahnik’s and take her private jet to Monte Carlo.  What follows is the kind of fun that I can only imagine are the stuff of tween dreams.  The trio bump elbows with royalty, wear expensive clothes and attend lavish parties all while trying to not get caught in their deception.  Of course, no good tween comedy would be complete without a little romance and all three ladies meet men and learn a little about themselves in the process.  Through a traveling Aussie named Riley (Luke Bracey), Meg learns to let go and enjoy life a little.  Emma goes on a date with a prince that helps her realize that Owen (Corey Monteith), her boyfriend back home, is the guy for her.  And Grace meets Theo (Pierre Boulanger), an employee at the lavish hotel they are staying in, who teaches her that true happiness comes from being yourself.

Even though the film is, in reality, just another retelling of The Prince and the Pauper (which, lets face it, Mickey Mouse did better then anyone), I found it hard not to find a little enjoyment in it.  Its bouncy and innocent approach almost makes up for the lack of creativity or believability.  The three girls cover a wide enough spectrum that just about any teen girl will find something to identify with.  Gomez does her best and sails by mostly on charm alone though it should be noted that both her performance and accent as Cordelia proves she has little skill as a performer beyond being cute and likable.  Meester does her best to bring depth to Meg and does an admirable job considering the material she has to work with.  The real winner here is Cassidy who is funny, charming and engaging as Emma.

Like a trio of Cinderellas....Cinderelli? Whats the plural of Cinderella?

Monte Carlo is cinematic cotton candy but as that is all it is trying to be, it succeeds.  Ultimately, the target audience will never question why Grace would so willingly ditch her single-minded goal of being in Paris for a week or why the editing is so flat or why the visuals are so uneven.  It is fruity chewing gum offering little more then three beautiful girls and a matching set of handsome men playing out a teenage girls dream vacation.  Unlike most of the teen fare though, it wasn’t condescending or cheap which helps it come off less like Prom and more like the fun and airy rom-coms of the 60s.

Rating:  6/10

~ by Andrew Craig on July 14, 2011.

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