MONTE CARLO - Another Vehicle For Selena Gomez
MONTE CARLO (romantic comedy)
Cast: Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy, Corey Monteith, Pierre Boulanger and Andie MacDowell
Director: Tom Bezucha
Screenplay by Bezucha, April Blair and Maria Maggenti
Time: 108 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: The big buzz about Monte Carlo is that Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts were originally picked for the leads - and then the film-makers decided to go with a younger cast, probably to attract the huge 'Glee' crowd. While that may be a good decision, the biggest 'downside' to the movie is not just its casting but the derivative, uninspired and predictable script.
Well, that, plus we suspect that Kidman and Roberts must have turned down this project after reading the script!
SYNOPSIS: High school student and part-time waitress Grace (Selena Gomez, below) has always dreamed of going to romantic Paris with her best friend Emma (Katie Cassidy). However, as luck would have it, her uptight stepsister Meg (Leighton Meester) also tags along for the trip which turns out to be a huge disappointment.
Things change when the trio pop into a five-star hotel and Grace is mistaken for a spoilt British socialite. The three friends are then whisked off to Monte Carlo where they have to attend a charity ball, meet the men of their dreams - and get involved in the case of a missing multi-million-dollar necklace!
HITS & MISSES: As soon as the girls get to Paris, the movie is shrouded in a pervasive mood of sloppily contrived events and 'convenient' coincidences. Even if we accept the odds that Grace gets to meet her lookalike Cordelia Winthrop Scott (Gomez) at a place and time when Cordelia plans to 'disappear', we are 'forced' to accept many other ridiculous plot contrivances - just so that the mistaken identity caper can run its course. Indeed, the storyline reminds us of a host of other mistaken identity tales - and it is utterly predictable. Ditto that for its love stories.
Monte Carlo is obviously another vehicle for Disney starlet and singer Selena Gomez (after last year's Ramona & Beezuz). While it is obvious that Gomez has great potential as an actress, she doesn't exploit her talents here. There is little chemistry between her Grace and Theo (Pierre Boulanger) and her portrayal of Cordelia borders on 'campy'. Meester fares better as the cautious Meg; at least her relationship with Aussie Riley (Luke Bracey) has its sparks. Glee's Corey Monteith is largely wasted as Emma's boyfriend, Owen. The technical credits are okay.
THE LOWDOWN: Strictly for the 'tween set' and Gomez fans.