Selena Gomez recasts herself into a grownup in a safe Monte Carlo
Though positioned as "Transformers" counterprogramming, "Monte Carlo" is all about transformation.
Hollywood wants to transform former kiddie star Selena Gomez into a commodity marketable to young adults, and Gomez herself gets to do some mighty morphin', in a dual role that has her playing a Texas teen and snotty British heiress.
Yes, she gets to do two accents, and not just one at a time. To prove her versatility, she can often be heard in the course of "Monte Carlo" doing both accents in the same sentence.
Gomez starts out as Grace, a small-town girl graduating from high school and taking a dream vacation to Paris with her quarrelsome stepsisters (Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy). Grace is mistaken for jet-setting rich girl, and decides to let it ride - assuming the other girl's identity long enough to take a free trip to Monte Carlo.
From there, the movie runs the standard three-coins-in-the-fountain playbook, as all three young ladies find romance with cute international guys.
It's good, clean fun, although "Monte Carlo" goes a little overboard with the borrowed-wardrobe angle, and ogles the jewelry a little too eagerly. Never to early to introduce girls to the "Sex and the City" values of rampant materialism.
To be fair, "Monte Carlo" eventually restores the line between fantasy and reality, and while Grace has fun pretending to be a snob, we know she'll return to her good-girl roots.
"Monte Carlo" even throws in a subplot about charity work, just to make sure it ends on the right note.
The movie has its heart in the right place, but it doesn't have much personality. It's inoffensive but bland, safe but predictable, and you have the feeling throughout that Gomez is being managed, maybe a little too carefully.