Monte Carlo – 2011
Directed by Thomas Bezucha
Starring Selena Gomez, Katie Cassidy, Leighton Meester, Catherine Tate, Andie MacDowell, Pierre Boulanger, Cory Monteith
Written by Bezucha, April Blair, Maria Maggenti, based on the novel Headhunters, by Jules Bass
Doppelganger. Whenever this is the basis of your film, you can safely adjust your expectations. This is not going to be Sound of Music, or Mamma Mia, for that matter. What Monte Carlo is, for all intents and purposes, is a location piece. To get there, we have to buy that 2 friends, Grace (Gomez)and Emma (Cassidy) have worked their way to a trip to Paris. Grace’s step-sister, Meg (Meester), is given a the trip as a gift by their parents to have her keep an eye on the other two, and to help her loosen up a tad. They discover that the trip is a tour with a really tight schedule, and it takes about a day and a half for them to lose their place.
Enter the look-alike, Cordelia, who happens to be a dead ringer for the biggest name star, Gomez. Fortunately we don’t see much of her, just enough for the protagonists to get an idea and…take her place. Off we go, to France’s most beautiful neighbor. What great use they make of the site, as well. To be fair, I am partial to movies with wonderful locations. Fools Gold was a steaming pile, but the exotic locale in The Bahamas and great looking actors having fun made it fun for to watch. Monte Carlo, without the location, is a minimal fare, to be sure. The actors have fun, but they have more skill than you’d expect from something of this caliber. Of particular interest is the subplot with Cassidy and Monteith. Cassidy (daughter of David and one of the stars of the summer television experiment Harper’s Island in 2009) has a subtlety to her performance, particularly on the yacht scene, that belies her looks. She really could amount to something if she gets beyond friend roles.
As for the destination of the film, we get to see many beautiful spots of Paris, Monte Carlo and, surprisingly, Budapest Hungary, which serves as a double for many shots in the film. This reviewer could probably live without going to France. Wouldn’t want to let my patronage go to its head. If there is a way they would let us into Monte Carlo, or if we could spend a few days in Hungary based on what is shown here, it would not be wasted time.
The last 1/3 of the movie is filled with wacky hi-jinks, and perhaps because they are done in as subtle a way as the rest of the film, they do not make as big a distraction as one would expect. The ending is pure hogwash, but it is more fun than it would have been in the hands of a Disney. When it comes to movies about young girls, out on their own, growing up a bit and cliched physical humor, Disney doesn’t do low-key.
(*** out of *****)