Monto Carlo is purely magical - that's pretty much the theme running through the entire film. And it's not always in a good way. Everything about the film screams over-the-top absurdity.
The movie starts out fairly normal, with Selena Gomez's character Grace graduating high school and getting ready to go on a trip to Paris that she's been saving up for.
Grace sets off for Paris along with her traveling buddies, Emma (Katie Cassidy) and Meg (Leighton Meester), leaving behind their small Texas town. Their adventure of a lifetime doesn't start off so well, with Grace picking a crappy tour that allows them to see very little of Paris and sleeping in a dingy motel.
All that changes when Grace is mistakenly identified as Cordelia Winthrop Scott (also played by Gomez) and the girls are whisked away for the adventure of a lifetime.
In comes all those magical moments I was referring to. First off, if you ever think any of this could ever happen to you, then you are seriously delusional.
Everything from the missing jewelry to the nights of pure romance afforded to each of the girls is completely unlikely.
Grace, Emma, and Meg are all staying in an unbelievable suite at a Paris hotel when they are told they are leaving for the beautiful Monto Carlo (of which they have no idea where that is) and end up playing along with all the people who believe Grace is actually Cordelia (never mind Cordelia is an awful person and Grace is nothing like her).
Magical moment #1 - Grace and her two friend attend a huge ball with a very handsome French heir, Theo without any even questioning Cordelia and her posse. They seemlessly fit into an European elite crowd they've never experienced before.
Cue Magical moment #2 - Emma, who has left her small-town boyfriend (Glee's Cory Monteith) behind for the French experiences, meets a very rich and handsome heir who immediately takes a liking to her and brings her to a yacht with all his other rich friends. Girls - take note - this will never happen to you, even if you do take a vacation to Paris.
But there are three girls in the equation and Meg can't miss out on all the fun.
Nope, Magical Moment #3 has her too finding romance, an Australian tourist, who (weirdly enough) seems to be following them everywhere they are. First on the steps of Sacre Coeur, then at the top of the Effel Tower, and finally, all the way to Monte Carlo.
The three girls separate and have their own magical date night, with a climatic ending full of fireworks. It's all sweet and lovey-dovey, but things start to go wrong when they all return and find out the necklace is missing.
The ode to Alfred Hitchcock's How To Catch a Thief is evident throughout, climaxing with a scene where Emma is actually watching the film in the hotel room. The film doesn't try to be the unforgettable classic, but there are just enough subtle odes to the film that you can tell it's heavily influenced by it. Charming, but not quite up to the same standards.
The plot starts to actually get really good when they find out they've accidentally lost the necklace, ending with a dramatic search and a hilarious kidnapping. More unbelievable and "magical" moments happen that allow everything to fall conveniently into place.
Gomez is sweet and sugary in her role and plays the good girl/bad girl combo fairly well. Her baby-faced innocence makes her easy to watch on screen and she's believable enough in the role.
Cassidy and Meester match Gomez in enthusiasm and young energy and the three work well together as a trio, but they just seem a little too accepting of all this "magic" happening around them.
Despite the insane improbability of it all, I still found myself swept away by all the "magic." Young girls will crave the fun adventure and sweet love story Gomez and her co-stars have to offer.