Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo

**

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

This coy, chaste and overwhelmingly pink and fluffy story aims to bring sugary wish-fullfilment to pre-teens - all wrapped up in middle American packaging that's so conservative, even the most maiden of aunts might long for something more racy.

Selena Gomez plays Grace, fresh from high school and about to use her Texas diner-job savings for a trip of a lifetime to Paris. She's taking along her ditzy pal Emma (Katie Cassidy), providing she can get her to tear herself away from her dependable, stay-at-home mechanic boyfriend Owen (Cory Montieth). At the last moment, however, her mother and step-father (Andie MacDowell and Brett Cullen) insist that her uptight and grieving step-sister Meg (Leighton Meester) goes along for the ride.

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Off they jolly well go and discover that the trip of a lifetime is the bickering budget break from hell. Then, before you can say contrivance, Grace has been mistaken for her doppleganger, a snooty British heiress called Cordelia (Gomez getting to the be the latest in a long line of American actresses to chase British vowels around their mouth as though they were gobstoppers). Since the real Cordelia has conveniently gone AWOL, the Texas trio jump on her bandwagon and find themselves whisked to the wealthy end of Monte Carlo.

There, Grace begins to fall for le French love interest (Pierre Boulanger) while trying to keep her secret from Cordelia's suspicious aunt (Catherine Tate) and Emma has a twirl around the dancefloor with a duke, which makes her long for the home comforts of her own dimmer switch(!) Meester, meanwhile, has the most 'grown-up' of the storylines, getting back a little piece of inner sunshine courtesy of cute Aussie Riley (Luke Bracey).

Harmless enough to a point, the film does have periodic moments of farce that pay off - but the idea that girls should aspire to little more than acquiring a boyfriend, a home or a brand-new pair of Blahniks will be desperately depressing for any parents dragged along. Plus, the decision to give Grace two thoroughly white-bread parents smacks of sterilisation and the fact that her real dad is never even mentioned is just plain odd given that Meg's plotline hinges on grief.

Still, adults may find solace in some of the unintentionally funny lines between Meg and Riley - look out for the subject of 'riding' - even as they begin to wonder if they will ever get round to locking lips. No alcohol is consumed, no tongues used and no fur ruffled in this bland offering that will leave anyone over the age of 12 cold.

Reviewed on: 22 Oct 2011
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Three young women vacationing in Paris find themselves whisked away to Monte Carlo after one of the girls is mistaken for a British heiress.
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Director: Thomas Bezucha

Writer: Thomas Bezucha, April Blair, Maria Maggenti, Kelly Bowe, Jules Bass

Starring: Selena Gomez, Katie Cassidy, Leighton Meester, Cory Monteith, Andie MacDowell, Brett Cullen, Amanda Fairbank-Hynes, Joe Camp III, Luke Bracey, Valérie Lemercier, Franck de la Personne, Máté Haumann, István Göz, Attila Árpa, Joël Lefrançois

Year: 2011

Runtime: 109 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

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