Review in a Hurry: Tween idol Selena Gomez tackles not one, but two roles for her big-screen adventure, playing both a Texas waitress who travels to Paris and the snotty, rich, tabloid celebrity whom she gets mistaken for. Along the way, she ends up crushing on some dude with a crazy ‘do, naturally.
A flick with a Disney star usually means broad humor, but thankfully the laughs come without pratfalls. Selena fans will be pleased that she’s just as spunky as ever. Parents will not be bored…at least too much.
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The Bigger Picture: Grace (Gomez) dreams of getting out of her small Texas town. She’s spent four years working at a diner saving for her dream trip to Paris with her BFF Emma (Katie Cassidy). Mom (Andie MacDowell) is anxious for her daughter to see the world but has one condition: Her older stepsister, Meg (Leighton Meester), will be the trip’s chaperone. Meester (Blair from Gossip Girl) makes with her brand of know-it-all sass.
But when the trio enter a ritzy motel to get out of the rain, Grace gets the royal treatment. Turns out she’s a ringer for British socialite Cordelia Winthrop Scott. So Grace impersonates! Don’t feel bad for Cordelia though, as it comes as no surprise that she’s a grade-A jerk. Although, as Cordelia we’re not sure why Gomez sounds like a snotty version of Angelina Jolie…but…just go with it.
Gomez might be the stunner in a fancy evening gown, but it’s CW alumnae Meester and Cassidy (Supernatural, Melrose Place) who shine. Meester can make any role more interesting than it deserves. Cassidy plays a gal from a small town who loves shiny, pretty things. Her enthusiasm feels genuine.
So maybe it’s not Gomez to blame but the character of Grace. Grace feels some remorse for her identity thievery but only at the very end of the movie. After all, there are those lovely dresses to be worn, boys to swoon over and did we mention a $ 3 million necklace that gets “misplaced.” Of course it does.
In the spirit of situational comedy, the “OMG! What do we do next?!” kind, the script clicks. What young gal wouldn’t want the opportunity to be famous, have it all and party in a gorgeous place like Monte Carlo? Director Thomas Bezucha filmed on location in Paris and Monte Carlo, and both look superb.
The film’s lessons on friendship and growing up are effective. Nothing’s ever as dire as things were for those sisters of the traveling pants, but that’s fine. Sometimes girls just want to have fun.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Glee‘s Cory Monteith plays Owen, boyfriend to Cassidy’s Emma. In a subplot that sidetracks the fun, he travels to Paris to declare his true love for her. Monteith is solid, but cutting away from the three gals living it up in Europe is distracting.
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(Originally published June 30, 2011, at 6 p.m. PT)