Movie Review: Monte Carlo
Stars: 2.5 out of 5
'Monte Carlo' is an airy delight that does not take itself too seriously, so neither should the audience. It is a tale of mistaken identity that will appeal to tweens. It stars rising Disney star Selena Gomez as Grace Bennett, a small-town Texas girl who has been dreaming of a trip to France all through high school. She gets a part-time job as a waitress and saves nearly every penny of her tips to finance the graduation trip of her dreams. Her waitress pal Emma (Katie Cassidy) is all set to go along for the ride.
Grace's mom and step-dad (Andie MacDowell and Brett Cullen) throw a wrench in the plans when they insist that Grace's stuffy step-sister, Meg (Leighton Meester) go on the trip with them. The audience is led to believe that the two do not get along, although the exact reasons for the rift remain a mystery.
The girls land in Paris and the audience is treated to a quick tour of some of the more stunning Parisian landmarks. During the tour, Grace is mistaken for a rich socialite named Cordelia Winthrop-Scott. The two girls are dead ringers for each other, although Cordelia is a snob of the highest order whereas Grace is of course sweet as pie.
After some encouragement from Meg and Emma, Grace decides to pose as the socialite, taking advantage of all the luxuries and benefits of being rich. At this point, the movie could have taken a darker turn as one about identity theft, but Monte Carlo keeps it light and fluffy. The girls are not portrayed as doing anything bad. In fact, they dress up and go to a charity to raise money for a cause that the real Cordelia felt was beneath her.
The ladies jet across Europe in Cordelia's private plane and enjoy her pricey designer wardrobe and even pricier jewels. They eat and live like queens, not thinking of any real consequences that could come from their actions. In the interest of continuing to keep things light, the movie never gives them any serious ones to face.
Along the way, they meet some boys and begin to show a growing interest in two in particular. Grace becomes smitten with Theo, an idealistic young French boy who is equally in like with Grace. Meg meets Australian backpacker Riley (Luke Bracey) whose dreamy accent and charm helps loosen the uptight Meg and let her have the release she never got when her mother died several years earlier. Emma courts temptation by nearly hooking up with a stranger, only to stay loyal to her sweet boyfriend back home, Owen (Cory Monteith of Glee fame).
Like any mistaken identity movie, the real Cordelia must emerge and reveal Grace as an imposter. As the movie chugs to its inevitable conclusion, the three girls begin to forge a bond. Particularly touching is the growing understanding and trust between stepsisters Meg and Grace, who seem to bury their mysterious hatchet by the time the end credits roll.
'Monte Carlo' does not break any new ground and is reminiscent of 'The Princess Diaries,' with Gomez every bit as charming and likable as Anne Hathaway was. The audience can almost see her star status rise as she deftly plays dual roles. The movie is obviously marketed to tweens, but parents who are forced to watch with their daughters will likely enjoy the movie too. There are plenty of eye candy shots of both Paris and Monte Carlo to please an older crowd. Parents should just sit back and enjoy all 109 minutes of this sweet and sometimes touching comedy.