Monte Carlo doesn’t break any new ground and is in fact predictable in almost every aspect of the story. The direction is only average even though they managed to film in two of the most beautiful cities in the world and yet thanks to Selena Gomez and the safe story, there’s a certain amount of charm. Now, this isn’t a film that will resonate for me beyond this review but I think enough of it works to make it at least a lukewarm recommendation.
Genre(s): Comedy, Romance
Fox | PG – 109 min. – $39.99 | October 18, 2011
Directed by: Thomas Bezucha
Writer(s): Kelly Bowe (story), Thomas Bezucha & April Blair & Maria Maggenti (screenplay)
Cast: Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy, Cory Monteith, Andie MacDowell
Theatrical Release Date: July 1, 2011
Features: Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, BD-Live
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Disc Size: 40.6 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.25/5
Plot: Grace (SELENA GOMEZ) is a high-spirited high school grad looking forward to a vacation in Paris with her best friend Emma (KATIE CASSIDY) but plans get changed when her mother and stepfather make her take along stepsister Meg (LEIGHTON MEESTER) as a measure of maturity to keep the girls in check, something which irks both ladies.
In Paris, they discover their tour isn’t up to par as they zip in and out of locations barely able to take in the sights but things seem to get worse when, while on top of the Eiffel Tower, their tour bus takes off leaving them stranded with their luggage left at a flea-bag motel. As they journey back to the motel, in the pouring rain, they happen to stop off at a high end hotel to dry off where a snob heiress named Cordelia is set to check in and this wealthy socialite just so happens to be the spitting image of Grace. Not only do they look alike but Cordelia decides that rather than checking in and going on her schedule, she takes off for her own ventures. With some reservation, when Grace is mistaken for Cordelia, they take the opportunity to stay in Cordelia’s luxurious room and in the morning, her trip to Monte Carlo to participate in a charity event.
Once there, Grace (as Cordelia) meets an ambassador’s son named Theo (PIERRE BOULANGER) who initially detests the socialite and her fake exterior, based on the paparazzi rags, but the two of course take a shining to one another as the film progresses. The other two girls have their own suitors, though. Meg meets Australian free spirit Riley (LUKE BRACEY) while Emma is courted by a snobbish rich young man which makes her appreciate the boyfriend (CORY MONTEITH) she left at home in Texas.
Monte Carlo hardly breaks new territory as we’ve seen the whole teen girl self-exploration storyline before, even combined with said girl taking a trip abroad to find herself. Based on the novel “The Adventures” by Jules Bass, she combines those elements with the journey through a foreign city aspect of the Aubrey Hepburn classic, Roman Holiday. So obviously it’s not very original but even so, it was fairly entertaining.
Performances-wise, no new ground is being broken either, but there’s something about Selena Gomez that is naturally charming even when her character doesn’t have a whole lot of depth beyond “finding herself”. I haven’t seen Gomez in a whole lot save for last year’s Ramona and Beezus and when channeling surfing, her show “Wizards of Waverly Place”, and while it could be public perception, she seems down to earth and it comes across on the small and big screen. For Monte Carlo, despite the contrived plot, you can at least find her believable enough to follow her until the clichéd finale.
The same goes for the two bickering gal pals, even Leighton Meester’s Meg character who’s still reeling over the death of her mother. It’s not a great job by Meeter who at least is a half-decent actress, though The Roommate was hardly her finest hour, but I’m not entirely sure who could’ve fleshed out that supporting character. Katie Cassidy for her part plays up the more free-spirit of the trio pushing the plot forward in an unbelievable manner (her character is the one who spurs the others into the mistaken identify adventure).
Monte Carlo was directed by Thomas Bezucha who also served as a co-screenwriter. He previously helmed the indie drama Big Eden in 2000 and then the pleasing romantic comedy The Family Stone. Here, like many comedies, it’s finely photographed utilizing the usual sights in and around Paris but it’s hardly a travelogue or postcard to the City of Love (or the City of Lights, the only running joke that fell completely flat in the film). In any case, Bezucha does an OK job fluidly taking the plot from Point A or Point C.
Obviously Monte Carlo is geared towards a much younger audiences, probably in the 12-16 year old females, so the humor or story will not resonate with anyone older or of the opposite sex, like me. That being said, there were moments I actually chuckled and even when the film goes into cliché-land, it was at least tolerable and enjoyable enough. Although I will hardly remember this movie a month later, it does at least have a certain charm about it that I give it a moderate recommendation.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.0/5
Deleted Scenes (6:46; HD) – There are a couple of deleted/extended scenes that are fine but unnecessary for the final cut.
Monte Carlo Match-Up is a test you can take answering a variety of questions to find out which girl you’re most like.
Ding-Dang Delicious: The Boys of Monte Carlo (5:45; HD) as you can imagine focuses on the three boys/young men in the movie. It’s basically just the cast and crew talking about the characters and how funny/great/awesome/whatever the actors are.
Monte Carlo Couture (6:00; HD) focuses on the wardrobe designs for the film from the glamorous dresses to the casual wear.
Jet Setter’s Dreams (6:09; HD) – This featurette is about shooting in Budapest which doubled for Paris and Monte Carlo before moving production to France, and then Monte Carlo, for some on-location shooting.
Backstage Pass (3:48; HD) is a featurette probably made for Disney (where Gomez’s show, “Wizards of Wavery Place” airs) as it’s just a glimpse at the making of Monte Carlo with comments by Selena Gomez.
Gossip with the Girls (5:52; HD) has the three ladies chatting about making the film.
Theatrical Trailer (2:26; HD)
Live Extras is the BD-Live portal where you can check out new Fox titles or enable the studio’s signature Live Look-Up which plays along with the movie and allows you check the bios for the cast. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Digital Copy of the movie is also available if you’re so inclined. It can either be downloaded via a disc or using your mobile device, downloaded using Wi-Fi with pocket BLU. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Preview – Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer
VIDEO – 4.25/5
Monte Carlo comes to Blu-ray presented in its original 1.85 widescreen aspect ratio and 1080p high-definition transfer. While the picture hardly pops off the screen, it’s still a well detailed transfer with a fine amount of natural film grain and only a moderate amount of noise. The detail level is good from close-ups on the actor’s faces to background objects which are also crisp. The color array does come across as a bit too warm though I suspect that’s how it was shot than a flaw with the transfer.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
The disc features a decent if not merely adequate 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Dialogue levels of course are fine but it’s the other elements like the music, score and background noise that, while clear enough, don’t feature much depth. I didn’t notice much coming from the rear channels as the front and center speakers get the most use.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, Monte Carlo doesn’t break any new ground and is in fact predictable in almost every aspect of the story. The direction is only average even though they managed to film in two of the most beautiful cities in the world and yet thanks to Selena Gomez and the safe story, there’s a certain amount of charm. Now, this isn’t a film that will resonate for me beyond this review but I think enough of it works to make it at least a lukewarm recommendation especially if you have younger kids.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.