Okay, here is the situation. A teen starlet, beloved
for her kids’ sitcom on a cable network and also a hit-making pop singer,
has been working her way into films. Her first few attempts did not seem to
make much of a splash, so they set up a grand romantic comedy for her.
The teen queen will be doing a loose variation on the
classic Mark Twain novel The Prince and the Pauper, playing a normal
American girl who is taking her dream vacation to Europe, only to run into a
celebrity who looks exactly like her. Through a series of wacky
complications, the normal girl and her friends get to live out the life of
the celebrity, all the while afraid that people will catch on to her ruse.
And she meets the cutest European guy, who thinks she’s hot too!
Plus, the actress gets to stretch her acting muscles,
also playing the snooty, bitchy celebrity.
No we are not in a time warp to 2003. The starlet is
not Hilary Duff and the movie is not The Lizzie McGuire Movie.
Monte Carlo just sounds a whole lot like it.
Oh, there are some differences. Lizzie took
place in Rome while Monte Carlo takes place in Paris and (naturally)
Monte Carlo. In Lizzie she was impersonating a famous pop singer, in
Monte Carlo the celeb is merely a famous spoiled rich heiress. And,
frankly, Lizzie had a much more adventurous climax, subverting some
of the audience’s original expectations. Most everything in Monte Carlo
is straight from the tween comedy rulebook.
And of course, there is the actress, Selena Gomez of
the Disney Channel’s The Wizards of Waverly Place.
However, the situation – both in front of and behind
the camera – seems awfully familiar.
You can say, “What’s the big deal? There have been
dozens of variations of The Prince and the Pauper over the years,”
and you’d be absolutely right.
However, Hilary and The Lizzie McGuire Movie and
her ensuing career should be a warning to Selena Gomez.
Eight years later, even though she’s still under 25
years old, Duff’s career is pretty much at a standstill. That is mostly
because she pandered to her tween-age audience with fluff like Lizzie
McGuire Movie, A Cinderella Story, The Perfect Man, Material Girls and
the like. She never learned to grow as an actress. (Well, in fairness, she
did take on a risky role in the awful black comedy War, Inc., but she
just picked a really bad vehicle for her image reformation.)
Little girls grow up and change. What they like at 11
will be insufferable to them at 16. This is your audience, Selena. Unless
you grow with them, you will be left behind.
Making movies like Ramona and Beezus, Another
Cinderella Story (a Hilary Duff sequel, for goodness’ sake!),
Princess Protection Program and (naturally) Wizards of Waverly Place:
The Movie will not bode for a long career. So, if you want to still be
working at 30, you may not want to follow Duff’s career path.
That said, for a tween girl romantic fantasy, Monte
Carlo is not an awful film. It has cute kids, gorgeous scenery, light
romance, haute couture, mildly amusing dialogue, fancy cars, beaches…
and did I mention gorgeous scenery? Monte Carlo is worth seeing just
to get a cinematic tour of Paris and Monte Carlo.
Sadly, the writers don’t seem to know all that much
about Europe. Or perhaps they care so little about their setting that they
set up an elaborate sight gag in which one of the girls tries to plug in her
cell phone charger and ends up blowing the entire hotel's electricity - not
even knowing that an American electrical plug would be physically impossible
to fit into a European outlet. It is a completely different shape; even the
densest tourist couldn’t possibly make that mistake. But the screenwriters
do. More likely, they assume their young audience would never know
We also have one of the girls' boyfriends from back
home - who it was established earlier had never left Texas - deciding on a
whim to follow her to Paris. Apparently he is able to get a passport (which
normally takes weeks) and a flight all within a few hours.
Interestingly, Gomez is kind of likable in the role –
however her acting specialty (see her earlier roles as well) seems to be
petulant sulkiness. Every once in a while you just want to tell her to
lighten up already.
Actually her two girlfriends – played by Gossip Girl
faves Katie Cassidy and Leighton Meester – are more interesting as
characters and the actresses are more assured than their more hyped co-star.
Most of the guys here – including a handsome Australian
tourist whose accent appears and disappears regularly and a handsome French
philanthropist who keeps his accent straight through – are generic guy candy. Cory Monteith of Glee is
kind of wasted as the hard-headed Texas boyfriend.
There are worse ways to spend a
couple of hours than
Monte Carlo. It is formulaic and safe, but it does just barely deliver
the goods that its rather undemanding target audience is looking for.
But Selena, you are turning 19 in less than a month
after this film’s release. The clock is ticking on your career. Assuming
you have higher aspirations for your life than just being the possible
future Mrs. Justin Bieber, you may want to look at some more adventurous
Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: June 30, 2011.