WHEN you wish upon a teen star like Selena Gomez, you can be sure all of her dreams will come true.
And so it is in this lively if improbable fantasy about a down-to-earth American girl who is mistaken for a British socialite and continues the ruse in one of Europe’s most glamorous, sun-baked locations.
Monte Carlo is frothy and inoffensive entertainment for young, undemanding audiences, who are content to be spoon-fed emotions and to believe that every girl gets her Prince Charming in the end.
Admittedly, she does it by lying and deceiving, but even the most haphazard path leads to true love and the all-important fairy-tale ending.
Director Thomas Bezucha keeps the tone light and breezy, complimenting the perky performances with a bouncy orchestral soundtrack courtesy of Michael Giacchino.
Grace Bennett (Gomez) graduates from high school and looks forward expectantly to a trip to Paris she has been saving for all summer in the company of best friend Emma (Katie Cassidy).
However, Grace’s parents Robert (Brett Cullen) and Pamela (Andie MacDowell) are worried that Emma will be a bad influence so they pay for step-sister Meg (Leighton Meester) to join the European expedition.
Once the girls arrive in the French capital, tensions are evident and the trio bickers incessantly.
At the Eiffel Tower, they are left behind by their tour guide and seek sanctuary from the rain in a five-star hotel where Grace is mistaken for celebrity Cordelia Winthrop-Scott (Gomez again).
Emma persuades Grace to carry on the deception.
“Keep up the accent and look down your nose. I’m sure Meg can help you with that,” she snorts.
They head for Monte Carlo where the real Cordelia is due to auction a diamond necklace to raise funds for a children’s charity under the watchful eye of the socialite’s suspicious aunt (Catherine Tate).
There, Grace – posing as Cordelia – falls for Theo (Pierre Boulanger) but laments, “I finally find a guy who likes me for me, and I’m not even me.”
Meanwhile, Meg becomes smitten with hunky Australian backpacker Riley (Luke Bracey) and Emma realises that her heart belongs to her Texan boyfriend, Owen (Cory Monteith).
Monte Carlo trundles from A to B without deviation or emotional upheaval, telegraphing each pothole on the road to young love well in advance.
Gomez is a likeable fresh-faced heroine, but her character is woefully undernourished while Cassidy and Meester make the most of their similarly two-dimensional travelling companions.
Tate provides fleeting comic relief as Bezucha steers his film lazily towards the inevitable feel-good, redemptive conclusion.
The film is preceded by a short but sweet computer-animated short called Scrat’s Continental Adventure, featuring the sabre-toothed squirrel from the Ice Age films.
In less than five minutes, he manages to upstage Gomez and everything that follows.