MonteCarloPosterIs this film available for rent on Netflix Watch Instant, the iTunes Store, and Amazon Prime? Aurora is fortunately not available for rent through Netflix Watch Instant, the iTunes Store, or Amazon Prime.

Starring: Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy, Pierre Boulanger, Catherine Tate, Luke Bracey, Cory Monteith, Andie MacDowell, Brett Cullen

Directed by: Thomas Bezucha

Written By: Thomas Bezucha, April Blair, Maria Maggenti

How the sheer fuck did a novel called “Headhunters,” which was about four middle-aged women from New Jersey who prowl for rich husbands, turn into a script about three lonely Midwesterners in their 30’s (one of whom included Nicole Kidman) to then become a throw away pile of shit about three young women getting involved in a case of mistaken identity and starring ex-Bieber Selena Gomez? Where did that severe lapse in imagination and judgment occur?

Now you may be wondering why this fool ass would even consider watching a movie intended for the tween crowd, ESPECIALLY after having just reviewed a serious and critically acclaimed foreign film by a director who launched his country’s first cinema movement?!? Let us just say that I had a bet with a friend and I lost that bet with a friend and the losing of that bet with a friend meant I would watch Monte Carlo from beginning to end without fast-forwarding and then review it for this blog. Look at it this way: you get to now see me vent my rage at having to watch this movie so that should provide you with a bit of entertainment.

As goes with the rest of this film’s unsubtle approach (subtext is clearly not in this movie’s vocabulary), Selena Gomez’s character is named Grace as in Grace Kelly, who starred in that other film set in Monte Carlo, Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief (and I am sure Grace Kelly is rolling in her fucking grave at the thought of Selena Gomez attempting to pay her tribute). Anyway, Grace is about to graduate from high school in her small Texas hick town. She and her best friend, Emma (Katie Cassidy), have been saving up their tips from their waitress job for a graduation trip to Paris. However, her mom (Andie MacDowell) and sort-of stepdad (Brett Cullen) throw cow shit all over Grace’s fairy tale trip by forcing her and Emma to have her stepdad’s difficult and negative daughter, Meg (Leighton Meester), accompany them on the trip. The three of them get to Paris and accidentally run into Cordelia Winthrop Scott (also Selena Gomez), an ungrateful and undeserving British heiress bitch. After the paparazzi mistake Grace for Cordelia, Grace’s friends realize that there is nothing wrong with their friend impersonating another person for a few days and living the rich life. Hot sex, violence, and profanity ensue. Actually, none of that happens, but you will wish it did after (or if) you get through this film.

Two thoughts immediately popped into my head as soon as the film’s opening credits rolled. For one, how the mighty have fallen when someone as formerly great as Andie MacDowell decides to take a thankless 5-minute role of playing a boring mom. Well done managing that career, Andie. Second, who did Michael Giacchino (Star Trek, The Incredibles) owe a favor to in order to be saddled with composing this film’s music score? More importantly, why the hell was he even hired when most of the film’s music is (a) comprised of songs (and admittedly very good ones at that) and (b) the orchestral music is barely noticeable and when it is, it sucks?

I am not a complete prick and I understand shitty, brainless films like Monte Carlo are not intended for my demographic or for people with high IQs. I am also perfectly comfortable with myself to give credit to the elements that work in the film. Monte Carlo really boils down to being a travelogue and like any good travelogue (i.e. see Rick Steves), it has pretty cinematography (by DP Jonathan Brown, who is the son of the inventor of the Steadicam) that shows off the wonders of Paris and Monte Carlo during their best moments (in the spring season). If you, like me, have lost a bet and you are forced to watch Monte Carlo, I suggest you purchase the soundtrack and watch the movie on mute with the soundtrack playing in the background. You will have a far better cinematic experience than I did.

I was obviously already aware of the train wreck viewing experience I was about to embark on with Monte Carlo, but my fears and expectations were confirmed during a high school graduation scene in which a character quotes from Gandhi. The quote is: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” This becomes the theme of the movie and it defines Grace’s journey. I have no problem with Gandhi serving as an inspiration for a character, but when it is being used in a tween comedy that is made by people with TV backgrounds, you should excuse my lack of faith in their ability to come up with a meaningful and original way to incorporate this quote into the story and characters. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by how the filmmakers would use this quote and just as I suspected, they fuck it up – at the very end of the film, almost as something the filmmakers tacked on in order to justify Grace’s materialistic and shallow goals and interests, we find Grace in Romania as a volunteer at an elementary school. She is asked by her supervisor to go out and run some errand when she runs into the French prince who she had a romantic fling with earlier in the movie. Presumably, she will now quit her volunteership that probably didn’t do dick for that school and its poor Romanian children and live the life of a golddigging trophy wife to a prince.

There are many reasons why I normally cannot get into romantic comedies, especially those that are made for younger audiences. I can understand why Hollywood would want to have its main characters to be conventionally beautiful looking because audiences who watch these films want to see a fairy tale romance they can escape to and in their shallow, brainwashed, undeveloped minds, this means the lovebirds must look pretty. However, what I do not get is why all the other characters have to look pretty as well and why every piece of scenery and setting has to look perfectly clean and polished? Grace, Emma, and Meg come from a small town in Texas that is populated by people who clearly all came from Los Angeles. Places such as the diner and high school look like the quaint places that we city folk imagine small country towns to look like. It was impossible for me to imagine Grace coming from a poor, working class family when her mom is former Vogue model Andie MacDowell.

The plot to Monte Carlo smacks of something that was cobbled together by Selena Gomez’s publicists, studio executives, and a focus group comprised of ditzy teenage girls. Shit happens that either does not make any sense or its simply a stupid creative decision. For example, why did Grace have to save up for her high school graduation Paris trip by waiting tables when her older sister (who already graduated from high school) had dad not only pay for her trip, but she also got an upgrade on her flight? That would be enough to set my own sister on fire. Another general thought: If these girls are so hard-up for visiting Paris, then why the hell do they spend like half a day in the city and then spend the rest of their vacation in Monte Carlo (a city that dumbshit Emma has never heard of and yet she seems to have heard of Reykjavík)? What ultimately disturbed me about Monte Carlo was how the film clearly celebrates the excesses of wealth, social status, and the attainment of a rich husband above everything else. For these girls, becoming rich is the end goal. Sure, the film throws out a bone about saving poor Romanian children, but it spends no more than a few minutes mentioning it without going too deep into the issue for fear of boggling the minds of the film’s target audience. Ladies, if you want to see this same story, but with a bit more intelligence and better humor and dialogue, check out Only You (1994) instead.

If Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, and Katie Cassidy are going to represent Hollywood’s next generation of thespians, then it is safe to say that film is already dead as an art form. To be fair, the three screenwriters who wrote Monte Carlo did not help in the least bit to make these “actresses” look good. The dialogue is so cringingly fucking horrible that I can now see why the director figured it would be best to distract his audience away from the characters by focusing the film more on beautiful scenery. The three girls are obnoxious, one-dimensional, and Selena Gomez should never be allowed to use a British accent again (despite the fact that she reportedly spent weeks training herself to speak British).

Monte Carlo is, predictably, a nuclear disaster. I would not wish this film on my worst enemy and if you have even an ounce of self-respect, you will avert your eyes from the title and move on down the aisle to something that will be more nourishing for the body, mind, and soul. This film is like a sexless version of Sex and the City that sputters before it even has a chance to take off. Skip this colossal waste of time.