Starring: Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy
Director: Thomas Bezucha
Running Time: 109 mins
Monte Carlo is an American film about three young women who travel to Paris for the trip of a lifetime, however they are swept away to Monte Carlo after one of their party is mistaken for a wealthy heiress.
Expectations are always an important factor in how much you enjoy a film, and I expected Monte Carlo to be absolutely awful. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the movie, as it proved a simple and often even likable affair with some fun performances and a couple of good laughs, enough to make me smile, and never going too far into generic Disney-style cheese to prove annoying.
This is a really strange one for me, because everything about it seems like the ultimate Disney Channel Original Movie formula. A young Selena Gomez in the lead role, a pseudo-princess story involving a glamorous European destination, and all the romantic tropes you can possible imagine, yet there’s something about Monte Carlo that means it isn’t actually as painfully generic and cheesy as that may suggest.
The performances, for one, are surprisingly enjoyable, and do more than just follow formulaic character trajectories that we’re used to seeing in movies like this. Selena Gomez is very likable in the lead role, and at a point in her career just before breaking out of the Disney machine and into the more grown-up world, there is a pleasing balance in her performance between the simplistic and easy-going child performance, and a more mature and experienced turn that makes her a lot more watchable throughout.
Her co-stars Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy don’t have all that much to do throughout, yet they make themselves known on screen alongside Gomez, and with the exception of a couple of rather shouty asides, as well as their respective romantic story lines, they are also fairly fun to watch throughout.
Now, is Monte Carlo really a great piece of cinema? No. But the truth is that it really isn’t trying to be, and all it really wants to do is provide an hour and a half of solid, simple and smiley family entertainment, which I think it does rather well.
Its humour isn’t spectacular, but director Thomas Bezucha gives the movie a light-hearted enough atmosphere to make it a lot easier to laugh and smile at the simplest gags. Also, its story is beyond predictable, and despite the romantic element of the movie falling a little too close to more formulaic Disney tropes, the story about three girls travelling in Europe and getting caught up in a case of mistaken identity is actually full of energy and action, to the point that I’ll happily admit I enjoyed watching right the way through.
Overall, then, it’s fair to say that Monte Carlo isn’t a movie that will stand the test of time, and nor is it one that will really entertain you to the core. However, it’s a light-hearted, easy-going and simple movie that made me smile from time to time, and without ever being annoying or too cheesy, it manages to make what seems at first like a typical Disney Channel production work rather well, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.3.