This weekend Fox 2000 studios released the movie Monte Carlo starring Selena Gomez. Upon first seeing the trailer three months ago, I began thinking that this was another Lizzie McGuire movie minus Hilary Duff. Although there were plenty of similarities to the Disney movie, there was a little more depth to the film than what I had been expecting. Despite this depth, Monte Carlo proves to be a generic pre-teen/teenage romantic comedy with some pretty good camera work.
Let’s start off, as I always do, with a little plot summary. As you may have seen in the trailer, Monte Carlo centers on a Texas girl named Grace (Selena Gomez) who has a mediocre life in her hometown, but aspires to have something more exciting. Through hard work and some generosity from her parents Grace and her faithful sidekick Emma (Katie Cassidy) are able to go on a tour of Paris France and see the city of lights. Also tagging along for the trip is Meg (Leighton Meester), Grace’s responsible stick in the mud step sister who is not too thrilled on sharing the trip. Regardless the three arrive in Paris and find their accommodations stink and begin hating their reward for their hard work. During one rainy night, the girls take refuge in a hotel where they by chance run into Cordelia Winthrop Scott (Selena Gomez) an heiress and selfish brat who hates responsibility. Soon enough Grace, who looks just like Cordelia, poses as the heiress and the trio begins living the high life.
Gomez takes the major role in this movie as she plays two characters with very different attitudes. When Gomez plays Grace, she acts like an unsure teen looking for something more than she already has. There are times where Grace is a rebel and likes to break the rules, and other times where she is a law abiding citizen and follows the rules. Gomez does a pretty good job at portraying the character, but there are times where the character feels to fantasized and unreal, which made me role me eyes. The very brief time she plays Cordelia, Gomez manages to play that spoiled brat that she’s played as in the Wizard’s of Waverly Place, but picks up a pretty good English accent along the way. Although a little overdramatic at some points, Gomez still plays the role of the spoiled daughter quite well. Katie Cassidy plays the wild, irresponsible, rebel Texan who cares nothing for the rules as she pursues the idealistic high society life. Despite how predictable Emma is, Cassidy does a fine job portraying the character really laying it thick on the country accent and capturing that bubbly laughter that is stereotypical of blonde characters. Where Emma is kind of the devil on your shoulder character, Meg is the angel of reason kind of shifting toward a more ethic and good nature role. Meester actually portrays this character very well, which surprised me since I had seen her play a wilder role in the Good Girls Go Bad music video. I was very impressed with her acting as that awkward good natured girl, who reminded me of Bella from the Twilight series but nowhere as overdramatic or cheesy.
Despite the good acting, the movie’s story is incredibly predictable and shallow with very little surprise to it at all. A majority of the movie is something from a pre-teen/teenage dream of living the high life without paying any of the expenses. A majority of the time the girls are playing dress up in expensive jewelry, dresses, and makeup, which although makes them look even more beautiful, really does nothing for the story for me. When not dressing up, the girls are out schmoozing with three different boys and each experiencing a different aspect of Monte Carlo. As I sat there and watched the movie, I was able to predict what was going to happen way in the movie, which made it boring for me for the most part of the movie. Unlike some movies that have action or witty dialogue to make up for the predictability, Monte Carlo really had juvenile dialog, very weak comedy, and very little catchy music to really keep the pace going. And unlike Larry Crowne, which I also saw this weekend, the romance we have seen is extremely fantasized and unrealistic often moving too fast or seeming too cheesy.
However this movie was not all bad as I may have made it sound. One thing is the movie is cute and may make you say awwww at a few scenes. The backstory of the characters is also pretty well done, it’s just short and not as emphasized as it should be. As I mentioned earlier, the acting is very well done, even by the guys in this movie. Most of the ladies will be ecstatic to know that Cory Monteith is in this film and pretty much plays a role extremely similar to Finn, minus the singing. Perhaps the biggest strength of this movie though is the cinematography work. The cameras have done a fantastic job capturing the beautiful scenery of Paris and Monte Carlo. My breath was taken away at the famous monuments, the spectacular views of the city, and the natural beauty of the countryside, all filmed at just the right angle for maximum enjoyment. The camera work also does a nice job at bringing emotion to the scenes that the film would otherwise lack. There are times where I felt the scene would be completely lacking of any romantic feelings, had it not been for the camera filming at just the right angle, and probably a little help from some music as well. Although the girls have natural beauty to them, the camera also helped make them even more stunning.
Overall Monte Carlo is a fun rainy day movie that is definitely worth a Netflix view. Cute characters, beautiful scenery, and some great acting give the movie a little kick, but it’s still more a dress up movie than anything else. For those of you that have eight to twelve year old nieces, sisters, daughter, etc. I think you all will enjoy this movie. Those looking for a real plot, funny comedy, and good character development, this is one to avoid. My final rating on Monte Carlo is a 6.0-6.5 range. Tune in tomorrow for a look at my review on Priest, which is getting ready to come out on DVD.