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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Monte Carlo

October 17th, 2011

Monte Carlo - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray / Digital Copy Combo Pack

Monte Carlo played counter-programming to Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which is not an enviable position to be in. In addition, it was aimed at teen and preteen girls, which is a target demographic that is arguably the most difficult to sell to. This certainly proved to be the case with this film, as it missed the top five during its opening and quickly disappeared from theaters. It did top its $20 million production budget domestically, so if it can find a receptive audience on the home market, it could still break even. Is this likely?

The Movie

Selena Gomez stars as Grace, a typical high school student who is finally graduating. She's not part of the in-crowd and is just counting down the days till graduation. After graduation, she plans on taking a vacation to Paris and has been saving up for a long time. She's going with Emma, who is her best friend, but not exactly a reliable sort. She's older than Grace, but not particularly mature and not the person you want your 18-year old daughter to be alone with an a foreign city. So Grace's mother and father decide Grace's uptight step-sister, Meg, should go with them. None of them are overjoyed with the situation.

The vacation doesn't go as planned, as the tour is more of a sprint than a leisurely stroll through the sites of Paris, the room is cramped and has a view of a naked man taking a bath. And then when they are on the Eiffel Tower, they see their tour bus leave without them. It's too much for Grace to handle. While walking home, it begins to rain and Grace runs into a fancy hotel to get out of the weather. It is there that Emma and Meg first see Cordelia, a rich, spoiled heiress, who is Grace's double. Through a bit of mistaken identity, Grace, Emma, and Meg stay the night in Cordelia's room and the next morning are rushed off in Cordelia's car to the airport and then to Monte Carlo.

At first Meg is petrified at the thought of Grace assuming Cordelia's identity, but by the time they get to Monte Carlo and Grace learns she will have to impersonate Cordelia at a fancy ball, even she thinks the plan has gone too far. If it weren't for the prodding of Emma, they would have ended the charade there. Fortunately, it's not too hard for Grace to pull off pretending to be Cordelia, she just has to act nasty and even Corderlia's Aunt Alicia falls for it, at least at the beginning.

Meanwhile, Emma's boyfriend, Owen, tries to get in touch with her. However, when Grace took over Cordelia's identity, they three ladies left their stuff behind in France and he can't reach her. Panicked over the thought of losing Emma, he races off to Paris to find her. He does have some reason to fear, as Emma has attracted the attention of Prince Domenico da Silvano. She's not the only one with romantic entanglements. In Paris Meg meets Riley, an Australian tourist. And when the three ladies travel to Monte Carlo, she finds him again. Finally, Grace meets Theo, who immediately hates her, but he only knows her as Cordelia, and Cordelia has a nasty reputation.

Obviously it's only a matter of time before Grace is found out, and all of the people come together in one room for the final confrontation. And no, that's not a spoiler. It's a necessity of the genre.

I am not in the target demographic for this film; however, I've seen enough films aimed at teenage girls to know when one is working and when one is not. And this film works. It is light entertainment, fluffy in its wish-fulfillment escapism. It's predictable, it doesn't offer any deep insights into the human condition, but it is filled with charming actors who help bring more to roles that are not particularly challenging. A few characters are allowed to develop more than others. Meg goes from a woman still grieving over the death of her mother, to someone who accepts life a bit more.

I think for most teen and tween girls, deep character development will play a secondary role to the clothes and the glamor Grace, Emma, and Meg experience once they arrive in Monte Carlo. There is certainly plenty of that. There are fireworks at night, scenic views from Eiffel Tower, beautiful dresses, and of course there's plenty of romance.

The Extras

Extras on the DVD include seven minutes of deleted scenes, including a scene where Cordelia learns her fate (it's not kind to the people of Minnesota). There's a game called Monte Carlo Match Up, which is a personality quiz. Apparently I'm Grace. I was expecting to be Meg. There are two featurettes, Ding-Dang Delicious: The Boys of Monte Carlo is a six-minute on the guys in the movie, and finally a four-minute behind-the-scenes featurette called Backstage Pass.

The Blu-ray has a few extras, starting with Monte Carlo Couture, a six minute featurette on the style of the film. Jet Setter’s Dream runs six minutes and talks about the locations in the movie. Gossip with the Girls has the three main actresses talking for six minutes about the filming. There are also BD-Live extras, including a music video by Selena Gomez for her song, "Who Says", as well as Live Lookup and the usual trailers. The Blu-ray also comes with a digital copy.

The technical presentation is solid with good details, solid colors, deep blacks. It's not a showy movie, but there's nothing in the transfer that fails the film. The audio is likewise solid but uncomplicated.

The Blu-ray costs 33% more than the DVD going by the MSRP, but 47% more once's discounts are in place. It does have some exclusive extras, including some that push the technology, as well as a digital copy of the film. It's not a bad deal, but I would check compare prices first.

The Verdict

Monte Carlo is good for a romantic comedy, and while it falls for many of the clichés that are common for the genre, its buoyed by a charming cast. There are enough extras on the DVD, but it's not overloaded. The Blu-ray / Digital Copy Combo Pack has exclusive extras, but it is pricey compared to the DVD. If you are part of the target demographic, it's worth picking up, but keep an eye on the price of the two versions first.

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