Looking Like A Million Bucks
If you had asked me who was Selena Gomez a few months back, I would have just blinked at you. If not for attending Justin Bieber's 3D documentary film, being intrigued by his internet fueled meteoric success and inevitably feeding off the tabloids on his career, I would not have known who the lead actress was, but now I do. Based loosely on the novel Headhunters by Jules Bass, the release of Monte Carlo this week in the US and Singapore would probably be deemed suicidal, if not for its appeal to the intended demographic left out of the testosterone filled Transformers, and the more mature movie going audience who would likely flock to Larry Crowne starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts (opens in Singapore next week to avoid a three-way battle).
And appeal to that group it does, playing up to its favourite things that if I were a girl I would gobble this up hook, line and sinker. There's travelling to Europe, Paris no less, with a BFF, and a sister you'd love to hate in tow, meeting attractive and more importantly, single guys at every turn, travelling in luxury from being ferried in private jets and limousines, rubbing shoulders with royalty and the rich and famous, as well as having an arsenal of gorgeous outfits to get into topped off by million dollar jewellery, participating in exotic games and attending the coolest parties. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?
But that's about it, with the film very much set in territory already explored in countless of films dealing with coincidental, mistaken identity, where the Prince and the Pauper switch places – this one being one sided and without permission – for the pauper to experience the high life, leading onto moralistic questions such as whether one will be enticed by things superficial and materialistic, or will one return to one's humble roots with morals, principles and values intact. It's the same old usual themes about wanting to fulfill personal objectives and dreams, whatever they may be, whether done so through hard work, or just by meeting the right people.
Selena Gomez takes on two roles here, although her role as the mean British heiress Cordelia Winthrop Scott looks like she's suffering from a constant PMS. Her other main role is of course as Grace, the simple waitress from Texas who had graduated and is taking her graduating trip to Paris with best friend Emma (Katie Cassidy), only for her parents to get her half-sister Meg (Leighton Meester) to tag along despite their hating of each other's guts. So begins the journey of self-discovery for all – Grace to decide whether she should keep up with the charade she and her pals find themselves in at the risk of being a fraud to Theo (Pierre Boulanger) of the Hotel de Paris, Emma to try and figure out if the high life and potentially rich royal-family linked acquaintance can be anything more than friends as compared to her troubled boyfriend Owen (Cory Monteith), and Meg learning to becoming less uptight while getting swept off her feet by Aussie tourist Riley (Luke Bracey).
Yes, that's all the romance lined up, as they zip around the different places in luxurious Monte Carlo, having the second act centered around closure in and around a million dollar necklace meant for a charity auction. In some ways that was the best part of the film as finally there is a sense of purpose and urgency to try and resolve everything amicably and set their identities straight as their charade comes to the inevitable close, with well timed, expected comedy to pave the way to a finale that ends all too conveniently.
Naturally the landscapes make up the film with its far flung, beautiful locations that would just make you want to save up enough to jet set in the same fashion, trying very hard to make you forget the many plot conveniences and coincidences, for the very obviously predictable way this teeny bopper film is appealing to the teenage female population through the latest It girl making that transition from music to film. Strictly or the fans only.