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Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo

Rated PG, 109 min. Directed by Tom Bezucha. Starring Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy, Cory Monteith, Andie MacDowell.

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., July 8, 2011

Isn't Selena Gomez just the cutest? A lesser planet in the Disney Channel's star factory (well, until she starting dating the Bieb and became international tabloid bait), Gomez has lately been shifting her attention away from the tweener sitcom Wizards of Waverly Place, where she cut her teeth, and toward the big screen, debuting, quite capably, in last year's Ramona and Beezus. This teen-targeted European vacation piffle isn't a step forward or back – more like a slow, picturesque jog in place – and it's so inoffensive as to border on, oh Jesus, do I even have to say it? The premise – a high school loner named Grace (Gomez) longs to travel to Paris, but when she finally gets there, the dream is fast deflated – is simple enough (took me 22 words), but writer/director Bezucha inefficiently draws out this first act. In the process, he encourages expectations of a more earnest, grounded-in-reality picture than the one Monte Carlo morphs into when it hard-turns into mistaken-identity whimsy. Grace, it turns out, is a dead ringer for a spoiled British heiress named Cordelia. When Cordelia decides to go off the map (party in Ibiza, y'all!), Grace rather seamlessly steps into Cordelia's couture shoes and jet-setting itinerary. Once in Monte Carlo – and sheesh, for a kid so consumed with getting to Paris, she sure shucks it fast – Grace and her traveling companions, best friend Emma (Cassidy) and grieving stepsister Meg (Gossip Girl's Meester, perfectly lovely), part ways for the film's best stretch, wherein each American gal is romanced by an international lover, faintly recalling the Fifties' sudser Three Coins in the Fountain. But the cross-cutting last act, in which all parties, real and fake, descend on the same Monte Carlo hotel for a reckoning, requires an editor with better comic timing; what's meant to be madcap plays as something far pokier.
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