Movie Review: ‘Monte Carlo’
I’m not going to be the only critic to describe this as Sex and the City Lite and certainly not the only one to say Monte Carlo is a vapid, humorless, moronic, laughably imbecilic piece of little-girl-fantasy trash. I may not even be the only person to yell out unsolicited but desperately needed advice such as, “Button your goddamn shirt!” or “Do any of these people know what the word ‘statutory’ means?” But I probably will be the only one to say that anyone who likes this movie is an idiot.
The premise is your standard Prince and the Pauper—or at least half of it—high-school graduate Grace (Disney Laboratories’ Latest Release, perhaps best known for role in The Wizards of Waverly Place), her…uh…stepsister? (I don’t think the relationship is ever made explicit) Meg (Leighton Meester), and best friend Emma (Katie Cassidy) take their dream trip to Paris. The trip ends up being all kinds of stink until Grace is mistaken for heiress Cordelia (also Gomez). That takes them from the dirty hovel where they’re staying to a plush suite complete with a view of the Eiffel Tower (but then, what movie set in Paris isn’t?).
They decide to go with the rouse, which takes them to Monte Carlo (Monte Carlo) where Grace meets up with her obligatory love interest Theo (French actor Pierre Boulanger), Meg meets up with hers (Home and Away’s Luke Bracey, wearing the unbuttonedingest goddamn shirt in Christendom), and Emma pines for her would-be fiancée Owen (Glee’s Cory Monteith), who, bless him, decides to travel to Europe to find her.
The girls indulge in escapist dress-up fantasies, traverse inexplicably vacant beaches or traffic-free country roads, and reap all the gloss of the high life. There’s also polo, pretty outfits, shoes, ugly cityscapes of Paris, dancing vegetables, and a face-smacking tacked-on subplot involving stolen jewels.
With equal tacking is the “moral” of being yourself, but, please, let’s be honest. The only message this is going to convey to anyone unlucky enough to see it is “Love is something that takes time—several minutes or even days, perhaps—requires a series of coincidental meetings, and works fine when you have no obligations or responsibilities.” That and “Look at how we drape ourselves in all this tinsely crap! You don’t need it to be a good person, but damn if it doesn’t help!”
The worst thing is that Gomez clearly has talent, despite looking 12, which seriously mars her romantic subplot, and Boulanger almost escapes the dreamy foreigner stereotype the movie tries relentlessly to force on him. If Monte Carlo had any ambition at all to be something other than a lemon of a vehicle, it could have. If it wanted to make use of a strong cast instead of relegating them to a dustbin, it could have. If you can avoid this movie at all, you should.
Monte Carlo is rated PG. Directed by Tom Bezucha. Written by Tom Bezucha, April Blair, and Maria Maggenti. Based on the novel Headhunters by Jules Bass. Starring Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy, Pierre Boulanger, Catherine Tate, Luke Bracey, Cory Monteith, Andie MacDowell, and Brett Cullen.