In “Monte Carlo,” she plays Grace, a high school student who’s been saving her pennies from waitressing so she can go to Paris, and is looking forward to bringing her best friend with her. But her dad throws her a curve by insisting that her older stepsister (Leighton Meester) come along, and it’s obvious that they’ve never been friends. Then the tour they signed up for ridiculously has them literally running through the Louvre, waving at the Arc de Triomphe, hurrying through the Eiffel Tower, rushing through meals, and sleeping on cots. When they accidentally get separated from the group, the whole thing just feels like a complete disaster.
But that’s when things start looking up. The cute girls are clearly attracting the attention of handsome young men (imagine that), and then Grace is mistaken for a British heiress and suddenly they’re all treated like royalty.
OK, the whole put-on-the-British accent thing as been done before (remember when Lindsay Lohan was a young Disney star?), but Ms. Gomez does reasonably well with it, as well as with the haughty attitude of the spoiled heiress. (OK, it’s not completely consistent, but we get the idea.) Her friends decide to “just go with it,” which gives them all access to posh accommodations, media attention, a random polo contest, a charity auction, and all manner of impossible deceptions, but it’s light and airy and cute and harmless and nobody gets hurt. There’s no foul language, nudity, sex, violence, explosions or chase scenes, and, of course, we have the obligatory fashion sessions and Pygmalion-type dressing up for the Cinderella ball. Obviously, we’re appealing to the little girls, but it’s at least tolerable for the parents/grandparents who want to bring them.
And Selena Gomez, if she can avoid the personal pitfalls of too much adulation too soon, just might become the rare child star who turns into a real actress.
Ronald P. Salfen is co-pastor of United Presbyterian Church, Greenville, Texas.