European visit is saving Grace
By Stephanie Merry
Friday, July 1, 2011
In the digital age, when youth-speak stereotypically translates to emoticons and acronymed interjections, there’s something unexpectedly heartening about watching “Monte Carlo,” which follows a trio of young women who can string together full sentences made up of actual words. The teen-geared movie relies on age-old plot devices and storylines — mistaken identities and a rags-to-riches Cinderella story are all part of a coming-of-age framework — that are familiar territory. But it’s also dependable entertainment for young girls, not to mention a movie parents should appreciate given its dearth of expletives and conspicuous absence of texting (let alone sexting).
Grace (Selena Gomez, also known as Justin Bieber’s cute-as-a-button girlfriend) lives in Texas, a land of Dairy Queens, diners and cowboy boots like something out of a William Eggleston photograph, but dreams of traveling to Paris. Finally escaping what she might term the H-E-double-hockey-sticks of high school, Grace plans a trip to France with her best friend, Emma (Katie Cassidy), a boilerplate of a 20-something high school dropout complete with miniskirts, platform heels and platinum hair. An initial kink in the pair’s travel plans arrives in the form of Grace’s new stepsister, who is forced by the girls’ parents to go along on the adventure, to everyone’s chagrin. Meg (Leighton Meester of “Gossip Girl”) is a wet blanket. She hasn’t cracked a smile since her mother died some years ago, and her favorite pastime appears to be reprimanding people.
Upon landing in France, the world travelers immediately apprehend that they have signed up for the wrong tour. Not only is their guide a shrill speed walker, but their itinerary is so jam-packed that the girls get only a passing glimpse of Notre Dame and 20 minutes at the Louvre. Luckily, they stumble upon a new excursion, thanks to some auspicious timing. Grace’s striking resemblance to an infamous tabloid fixture and British socialite, Cordelia Winthrop Scott, gains the trio a private jet to Monte Carlo to enjoy the lifestyles of the rich and famous, including eye-popping diamond jewelry, polo matches, designer ball gowns and an array of makeup that could rival the beauty closet at Elle magazine’s corporate offices.
The three young women juggle their madcap charade with new love interests, including the young Frenchman Theo (Pierre Boulanger), who in a Mr. Darcy-esque turn treats Grace like dirt before winning her over with his charm and accent. Meanwhile, a dreamy Australian might be just the thing to help sourpuss Meg loosen up.
While there’s plenty of scenic eye candy, including charming shots of the Eiffel Tower through the trees and the lovely red roofs set against the blue water overlooking Monte Carlo, the movie could have benefitted from shaving about 20 minutes off. There’s no need to prolong the inevitable. It’s clear how things will end, but that doesn’t change the fact that starry-eyed girls and rabid fans of Gomez will probably go gaga for the movie. It is ultimately a sweet story, after all, and a few scenes might even make them LOL.
Contains objectionable aside from identity theft.