DIR: Thomas Bezucha • WRI: Thomas Bezucha, April Blair , Maria Maggenti • PRO: Denise Di Novi, Alison Greenspan, Nicole Kidman, Per Saari, Rick Schwartz • DOP: Jonathan Brown • ED: Jeffrey Ford • DES: Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski • CAST: Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy

Monte Carlo is a fairly innocuous tween take on the ever-popular ‘mistaken identity’ genre. Starring Disney’s latest love child (but not yet wild child) Selena Gomez, who is a visual contradiction, despite looking a twelve year old in her glassy-eyed innocence, she is in fact 18, meaning that the hour or so I spent thinking ‘she has to be but a child!’ was time well spent.

Gomez plays Grace, a fresh-faced high school graduate who has been saving for years for her dream graduation trip to Paris. Accompanied by her best friends and, much to her chagrin, her step sister, Grace embarks on a whirlwind trip of mistaken identities as she is immediately mistaken for a famous, equally fresh-faced (or same-faced) British heiress. Here Gomez takes on the mammoth acting task of…looking like herself, something the acting greats like Lindsay Lohan have done with ease. Gomez pulls it off as she glides happily through her doppelganger’s daily luxuries, and encounters the inevitable love interest (Glee’s Cory Monteith naturally). I’m sure they’re all quite decent young actresses, but there’s very little acting to be done here, and what is accomplished is altogether forgettable.

There isn’t much to get your teeth into here. There is very little that is emotionally engaging, and perhaps one too many irritating side plots, but the pacing of the overall story is quick enough to maintain the attention of tweens and vaguely bored adults alike. Monte Carlo had the potential to become a guilty pleasure staple in the same vein as Amanda Byne’s offerings, but settles instead for mediocre entertainment. Although Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester attempts to keep things ironic, the audience are left floundering. Opportunities for good comedy moments are often overlooked here (we learnt from the Inbetweeners movie that a run-down hotel can provide much amusement) in favour of becoming an amalgamation of every teen holiday we’ve ever seen. Perhaps that is the draw that keeps us watching, the constant acknowledgment of oh, there’s a Mary Kate and Ashley/Lindsay Lohan moment etc.

Monte Carlo is almost annoyingly vapid, a Sex and the City for tweens, without the comedy writers, but, perhaps even more annoyingly, it has a subtle kind of charm. You won’t want to stay and watch, but much like being drawn to an episode of The Wiggles whilst sitting beside a two year old, you’ll be oddly hypnotised. It is harmless fun and, on the bright side parents; I can assure you that you won’t remember much of it when you leave the cinema.

Ciara O’Brien

Rated G (see IFCO website for details)
Monte Carlo is released on 21st October 2011



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