With a deep-seated yearning to enjoy the pleasures Europe holds, graduating high-schooler Grace (Gomez) receives her diploma, packs the last necessary items into her bag, and is all set to go to Paris France with her older, flighty best friend Emma (Katie Cassidy). Plans are thrown for a loop when suddenly, Mom (Andie MacDowell) and Grace’s step-father decide they want the two free-spirited girls to have a little more stability so they send along Grace’s straight-laced, more conservative soon-to-be step-sister Meg (Leighton Meester). Emma is only too pleased to be leaving since she is having a spat with her hometown, but devoted boyfriend (Cory Monteith) while Meg is currently studying business in college, and according to everyone but her could use a break. Even though Grace is the only one who has been dreaming of this moment since middle-school, she begrudgingly realizes that the only way this trip will still happen is with Meg tagging along… so with an upgrade to first-class, off the girls go.
Stopping at the Eiffel tower during one of the BORING, droning tourist informational lectures, the girls find themselves left behind. Upset and claiming all responsibility that the other two girls were dragged into her dream, Grace randomly wanders the streets with her companions, confused at her surroundings, and while slipping into a posh hotel during a rainstorm, Grace is mistaken for a wealthy heiress! Stunned at first, and in spite of their own conscious speaking in the form of Meg, the girls accept the all-inclusive trip to Monte Carlo… which was meant for the British heiress Cordelia (dually played by Gomez).
Anyone who has dreams of someday visiting such treasured sights will get an eyeful of beauty in this production. Beauty that seems all the more realistic because the filming actually took place in many of the recognizable locations and those that did not were still at some exotic locales. Contrary to what some people may think, this movie features some lovely scenic treasures – and we don’t even have to go through the hassle of airport shenanigans; how great is that!? Simple things like a nighttime shot of the Eiffel tower through a bedroom window or a wide perspective shot from the balcony boasting the entire city make the movie impressive by its own right. In that, the movie excelled – but of course, being on location in the “City of Lights” only fueled the movies' tendency towards romantic sensibilities. Some of the filming is a little awkward, and some scenes called for a different angle or would have benefited from an altered set-up, but mostly, everything remains charming. I loved that the movie retained such a picturesque experience even in its impractical moments. (If you have an adverse reaction to sappy sentiments… well, this movie is chocked full of such notions.) Its script is overflowing with mushy sections that lead to flowery dialogue… and, even still, the film is wonderful.
Believe it or not, the three girls make the characters interesting, even if they don’t have that much depth – and Selena holds her own against the older Katie and Leighton. I appreciated that there was an age difference between the characters since Selena is several years younger than her co-stars, and that all three of them were older to begin with. (And, all the guys are cute, too while being appropriately respectful of their female counterparts. And Glee fans will likely be thrilled with Cory’s appearance.) Everyone’s respective accents constantly slip, but Katie pulls off a decent Texas drawl while Selena manages a convincing British lilt when she is stepping into Cordelia’s shoes – as Cordelia. Nevertheless, it probably doesn’t send the best message for promoting safety in foreign travel since the girls separate for one night and spend it out “on the town.” Meg hangs out with a guy she hardly knows and is invited to go elsewhere with him. Nearly all the clothes were pretty (I loved Meg’s pink ball gown. I don’t know where I’d wear it but I really want it! LOL!). Nothing should keep any potential viewers from seeing this. If you think that this is merely for the enjoyment of young girls, I think you might find there is a pleasant surprise in store. Similar to Letters to Juliet or Leap Year, it’s just a pity Monte Carlo didn’t put up a stronger showing in theaters because it’s reminiscent of wholesome entertainment – a rare commodity in Hollywood today. See this with your little sisters or mom (mine loved it) and be swept away on an adventure. And, now I’ve used nearly every descriptive adjective… you decide if this jewel (ooops – guess I did miss one!) is worth it: I can almost guarantee you’ll be smiling as the credits roll.
Monte Carlo arrives on DVD this Tuesday, October 18th.
(Cautions consist of some immodest clothing. There are a couple of chaste kisses; Emma tells Meg off by using a milder visual version of “kissing a**.” One use of a** is present, and a handful of milder slang words. One-time conversation suggests Cordelia has been a bit of a scandal. Monte Carlo is rated PG.)