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Monte Carlo: Fun But Forgettable Chick Flick
The night before jetting off to Paris, best friends Grace (Gomez) and Emma (Cassidy) are saddled with Meg (Meester), Grace’s stepsister, which puts a dampener on things before they even set foot on the plane. Upon reaching Paris and facing the squalor that is their room and the pure disappointment that is their Paris-in-60-seconds tour, they find themselves running about in the rain, thoroughly dejected.
To get out of the downpour, they duck into the nearest building; a swanky hotel where heiress Cordelia Winthrop Scott, who just happens to look exactly like Grace, has a suite that she has abandoned in favour of Majorca. Grace is mistaken by the hotel staff for Cordelia, and the three girls are collectively packed off to Monte Carlo where a ball and auction are being held in Cordelia’s honour. In order to raise money to build schools in Romania, a magnificent necklace of Cordelia’s will be auctioned off for millions of dollars. Along the way, Meg meets Riley, an Australian adventurer, while Emma dates a prince while trying to get over her ex, Owen (Monteith) and Grace falls for Theo (Boulanger) who thinks she’s Cordelia.
This is the kind of film you watch for the sparkly dresses, cute guys and the adorableness that is Selena Gomez, Katie Cassidy and Leighton Meester; especially Meester: her Meg goes from frigid and snarky to bubbly and love-struck in the space of two minutes, and while the transformation is highly unrealistic, the film is all the better for it. Cassidy as Emma the Texan waitress is the soul of adventure in the group. It’s mainly due to her influence that they take full advantage of the case of mistaken identity.
Gomez plays both Grace and Cordelia. Grace doesn’t really have a fixed personality and is essentially the middle ground between Meg and Emma. She’s not as buttoned up as Meg nor as freewheeling as Emma; she fluctuates between both extremes as is convenient for the story. However, Cordelia is a snooty ice queen that is thoroughly self-absorbed and doesn’t care one iota about the Romanian kids that she’s supposed to be raising money for. Outfitted with a permanent grimace, she’s a funny alternative to Gomez’s sweet-as-pie persona.
For a film called Monte Carlo, surprisingly little attention was paid to showcasing the glamour of Monaco. Paris fared slightly better with shots of every touristy spot there. While the cinematography was pretty, it failed to display that sense of grandeur that Paris demands. This is also partly due to the extensive use of ‘La Vie En Rose’ in the soundtrack, the most obvious song choice ever.
All in all, this is a sweet chick flick that relies on the charms of its leads rather than the story. It’s sweet and fun but ultimately forgettable.
The first half focuses far too much on Kelsey and Lynette and not enough on say, Rebecca Hall who plays Alan’s sister Mel. In fact, the film in general is pretty light on Hall and she just randomly drops out of the film without having her arc tied up, even though she’s the most magnetic performer in the whole thing. Canterbury, on the other hand, has far too big a part and while he’s decent as Kelsey, his pouting does become a bit one-note after a while.
The second half is, thankfully, far superior, mainly because Alan and Ben grow out of their immaturity and are forced to make some big decisions that shed some light on their relationship and back story. This is also where Sandvig and Ritter’s chemistry shines. They really nail the old friends dynamic and it stretches and warps as a wedge is driven between them, challenging their entire way of life.
Hayley (Pill) and Michelangelo (Parenti), an American tourist and a handsome Rome resident, meet, fall in love and soon after become engaged; an a occasion brings Hayley's parents, Phyllis (Davis) and Jerry (Allen) over from New York. Her father, a retired Opera director who is restless in his new lifestyle – regularly comparing it to death – soon becomes obsessed with Michelangelo's father, Giancarlo (Armiliato); a happy-go-lucky undertaker with a hidden talent.
In a different stand of the story, successful American architect John (Baldwin) returns to Rome to relive his young adulthood years where he meets a young architect-student Jack (Eisenberg). Jack is living with his girlfriend Sally (Gerwig), who complicates matters when she decides to bring in her flighty and alluring best-friend Monica (Page) for the summer.
Another side plot is of Antonio (Tiberi) and Milly (Mastronardi); a newlywed couple visiting Rome for their honeymoon. Things gets messy for the young lovers when Antonio accidentally encounters haughty prostitute, Anna (Cruz), while trying to impress his snotty relatives for a possible job promotion, while Milly gets up to adventures of her own while lost in search of a hair salon.
Finally, there is Leopoldo (Benigni); a working-class family man who one day awakens to find that he's become famous, for no apparent reason. With reporters following his every move, Leopoldo becomes one of the most famous men in Italy.
The film's major problem is that it ultimately doesn't give each of the stories enough attention to fully develop. It seems a case of too much to say, not enough time to say it, and the script often wanders into incoherence and pointless noise.