July 1, 2011 in Features

Comedy ‘Monte Carlo’ fails to be funny

Roger Moore Orlando Sentinel

From left, Leighton Meester, Selena Gomez and Katie Cassidy are shown in a scene from “Monte Carlo.”
(Full-size photo)

Selena Gomez is all girl in her first star-vehicle big-screen comedy, “Monte Carlo.” But that’s a problem, as she is so utterly out of her league with her grown women co-stars as to seem like a mascot to Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy.

“Monte Carlo” is a sad-faced and old-fashioned mistaken-identity comedy about a waitress from Texas named Grace (played by Gomez) who saved and saved for her dream trip to Paris to celebrate her high school graduation, only to have the trip go sour until she discovers she looks just like a snooty British heiress, Cordelia (also played by Gomez).

So Grace takes the place of Cordelia, with the willing support of her brassy, sassy all-Texas older pal Emma (Cassidy) and her reluctant, repressed stepsister-to-be, Meg (Meester, “Gossip Girl”).

Madcap mayhem ensues. Except it doesn’t. Whatever the Jules Bass novel that this is based on had going for it must have been lost in the vast committee of screenwriters and endless committee meetings of producers.

The vacation with the mismatched trio is going badly – a rushed, cattle-call group tour – when Grace is first mistaken for Cordelia. So the girls ease into faking their way from Paris to Monte Carlo, in private jets and Rolls Royce limos, Oscar de La Renta dresses and a Bulgari necklace that this frosty Brit is supposed to auction off in Monte Carlo.

Cordelia is all pricey sunglasses, rudeness and dismissive remarks into her cell phone: “Some charity thing – polar bears, hungry people.”

Gomez is meek as Grace, inept as Cordelia. It’s hard to decide which fake English accent is worse, the one that’s supposed to be authentic or the one Grace attempts as she pretends to be Cordelia.

Old gags abound as Meg takes a tumble for an Aussie vagabond tourist (Luke Bracey) and knocks over a row of moto-scooters. Cassidy gets a lovely scene in which she recognizes the emptiness of this class of folks she has envied from her working class perch in Texas.

You take movies like this for what they are and for whom they’re intended. But even as teen wish-fulfillment fantasy, complete with young women playing dress-up, “Monte Carlo” fails.

There isn’t a single funny bit player in the cast. Why hire Cory Monteith (“Glee”) to play Emma’s beau back home if you’ve got nothing for him to do?

The apple-cheeked Gomez (real-life apple of Justin Bieber’s eye) was better in “Ramona and Beezus,” playing younger and more in her comfort zone.

She’s not old enough to hit the casinos in Monte Carlo, and maybe she won’t be up to playing young adult roles until she is.

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