“Monte Carlo” sees three small town girls thrust into a world of Polo, fancy balls and good looking princes with exotic accents. It’s a buddy comedy plus one, (3 is the new 2 in comedy duos!) showcasing the talents of Disney star (and Bieber BFF) Selena Gomez, and Gossip Girls’ Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy.
Gomez is Cinderella… er… Grace, a recent high school grad who saved four years worth of tips from her waitressing job to pay for her dream—a trip to Paris. Along for the ride are her free-spirited best friend Emma (Cassidy) and evil step sister Meg (Meester). Instead of finding the new life she was expecting in France she finds nothing but pushy tour guides and fat men in berets until she is mistaken for heiress Cordelia Winthrop-Scott. For a few days she lives Winthrop-Scott’s glamorous life—it’s not stealing, she says, “it’s seizing the moment”—with her two American ladies-in-waiting before real life brings her crashing back to earth. But, because this is based on a fairy tale you know that by the end all three will wind up with the Prince Charmings they deserve.
Try as it might “Monte Carlo” doesn’t have the joie de vivre it should have to go along with its screwball premise. Mistaken identity is one of the cornerstones of the screwball genre, yet this movie is not screwy enough by half to be really entertaining. There’s some slapstick and attempts at comedy, but the pace is so s-l-o-w it sucks the funny out of what could have been an amusing little tween romp.
The Lisa Kudrow-esque Katie Cassidy gives it a go, bringing some spunk to the proceedings and Leighton Meester can do earnest rather well, but the film’s heavy lifting is left to Gomez who, as a lead actor, proves she’s charismatic, but not quite ready to headline a film.
For Gomez’s fans the setting, romance and clothes may be enough to sell the movie but anyone old enough to not know what “Wizards of Waverly Place” is may have a harder time finding enjoyment here.
“Monte Carlo” doesn’t fall down because of the predictable story—if you can’t figure it out on your own the trailer pretty much spells it out for you—or because of Gomez’s appalling English accent. No, it’s the film’s blandness that brings it down. If you’re in the mood for rags-to-princesses stories this weekend better off to rent either “The Princess Diaries” or “What a Girl Wants” instead.