Monte Carlo (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Monte Carlo (2011)

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It's, perhaps, a bit fruitless for me to bat away at a film as innocuous as Monte Carlo.  It really only wants to entertain, but beats around with yet another rendition of the old "Prince and the Pauper" story Disney alumni like to appear in every so often.  Ultimately it's all for the needy children, but why isn't the studio making  a movie about them instead?

Oh, yes, the illusion of glamour needed to maintain the "Disney prince/princess" facade for much longer.  My mistake.

To be fair Disney had nothing to do with Monte Carlo but given Selena Gomez's status as a Disney icon it stands the producers of the film wanted to follow the Hilary Duff success wagon as much as possible.  Gomez already has her own line of hit singles and television shows (all of which have gone unseen and heard by myself) so the standard progression is a movie with the most rudimentary plot.  No, dues must be paid before challenging work can be done.  Just ask Justin Timberlake.

I say this not to bury Gomez but to despair the resources that went into this film.  The rags/riches switch off plot takes Gomez's recently graduated college student to France where she's mistaken for a rich British heiress.  It's a testament to Gomez's ability to come off convincing in this dreck I actually did a double-take when her British double arrived, swearing she might have been a different actress.

Selena Gomez does not appear in this shot.

But this is the same story we've seen time and time again.  The student is saddled with her sister (Leighton Meester, who is not batting well with movies this year) and best friend (Katie Cassidy) on the trip.  They bicker until the student is confused for an heiress then life proceeds along swimmingly until the inevitable confusion is cleared up and all are revealed to be good people.

Huzzah for the movies in being able to teach us valuable lessons like "Don't work and you'll be mistaken for old money" or "When caught in your deception, just remember you're doing it for the children".  Remind the audience of these lessons constantly as a reminder there is no true conflict in life, just a case of horribly staged and executed montages of the leads walking down a tower.  When the height of tension and conflict stems from a normal daily activity something has gone awry with your film.

Aiding nothing is the complete lack of imagination in dealing with their surroundings.  Prior to the confusion, the trio stay in one of those quaint hotels where the electric grid for the entire town is connected to one electrical socket in one hotel room.  Wouldn't you know it - plugging in normal appliances causes the system to go haywire and explode.  Maybe France has the worst wiring in all of Europe.  I will need to rely on our French-language readers and residents to provide this information.

I really should be watching Drive again, or at least perusing what Gomez passed up to be in this.

What's sad is there is a certain amount of pathos to Gomez's performance even if it's completely lacking in the rest of the film.  In spite of the rampant idiocy and forced moralistic conclusions I bought she was a high school student in pain and ready to get on with her life.  But, once again, that's something real and interesting rather than another half-baked fantasy retold many times over.

As for her friends and other supporting cast, I can say even less.  Katie Cassidy perfected the Texan accent to the point where she doesn't come across as a caricature and Leighton Meester, through no fault of her own, managed to have her character survive the entire movie.  Good for her.

In the end, a film which makes me want to watch the Lizzie Mcguire movie is, by comparison, going to suffer immeasurably.  That film at least has energy to go along with it's recycled nonsense.  Quietly intoning "it's for the children" just isn't the same.

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Monte Carlo (2011)

Directed by Thomas Bezucha.
Screenplay by Thomas Bezucha, April Blair and Maria Maggenti.
Starring Selena Gomez.

Posted by Andrew

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