Saturday, 17 September 2011


20th Century Fox Films
Now Showing

Three pretty, young things, European locales, mistaken identity and romantic misadventures: while the recipe for Monte Carlo isn't a particularly new or daring one, the results in Thomas Bezucha's film (produced by Nicole Kidman and Forest Whitaker) aren't as bland as you'd expect, and bound to sate the appetites of its intended teen girl audience.

Grace (Selena Gomez) is about to graduate from her Texan high school and embark on a much longed for life changing trip to Paris with gal pal, Emma (Katie Cassidy). But Grace's mum (Andie McDowell) puts the dampeners on when she insists Grace's older step-sister, Meg (Leighton Meester), accompany them.

What's worse, turns out the Paris holiday promised in the brochure isn't as magnifique as Grace had envisioned, with cramped accommodation and rushed bus and walking tours throughout the city; the one to the Eiffel Tower seeing our heroines left behind and caught in the rain.

And it's when the trio take refuge in the foyer of a luxury hotel that Grace is mistaken for British socialite and heiress, Cordeila Winthrop Scott (also Gomez). At first the girls, enticed by large lobster and a big bed, just crash in her suite for the night, before deciding that they'll take on the rest of the heiress's itinerary (Cordelia having abandoned her charity duties to chase the sun) and hop on over, all expenses paid, to Monte Carlo.

So ensues a series of dress ups, parties, and polo matches as Grace attempts, rather successfully, to pull the wool over the eyes of Europe's old and new money; the only one not convinced is Cordelia's aunt (Catherine Tate), who finds her niece to not be her usual mode of spoilt bitch. There's also a series of romantic misadventures for the young ladies, two with millionaires and one with a free-spirited Aussie backpacker (Luke Bracey).

It's all rather harmless and inoffensive, and a much more polished affair than that other recent 'girls abroad' film, Chalet Girl. But what Monte Carlo lacks is the spark of that film's leading lady, Felicity Jones; Gomez, Meester and Cassidy combined can't muster the verve of the pint-sized Brit.

All three hail from television (Gomez from the Disney Channel; Meester and Cassidy from Gossip Girl) and neither has much of a screen presence, although Meester bears a passing resemblance to a young Julianne Moore (she would do well to score a 'flashback' role in one of Ms. Moore's future prestige projects).

But I have a feeling the young, female target audience - know doubt more familiar with and admiring of the works of Mmes Gomez, Meester and Cassidy - will happily go along for the ride.

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