DVD Release Date: October 18, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: July 1, 2011
Rating: PG (for brief mild language)
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Run Time: 109 min.
Director: Thomas Bezucha
Actors: Selena Gomez, Katie Cassidy, Leighton Meester, Cory Monteith, Andie MacDowell, Brett Cullen

While cinematic trends may come and go (vampires and bromances, anyone?), stories with happy-ever-after endings are pretty much a universal crowd-pleaser.

But as perfect as Disney’s reigning princess Selena Gomez is for the lead in Monte Carlo, this nearly two-hour slice of teen wish fulfillment ultimately falls prey to a slew of storytelling contrivances that are simply impossible to ignore.

Sure, the fairy tale starts out promising enough as Grace (Gomez), a recent high school grad, can’t wait to leave her one-stoplight hometown in Texas to explore the City of Lights with her best pal Emma (Katie Cassidy, TV’s Gossip Girl). In fact, it’s a trip she’s been dutifully saving for by waitressing at the local greasy spoon.

Hoping she’ll discover who she really is in a place as magnificent as Paris, her Mom (Andie MacDowell, The 5th Quarter) ends up putting a slight damper on her plans when she informs her that Meg (Leighton Meester, Country Strong), her stepsister to be, will be joining her and Emma for all the fun.

While it’s probably a good idea for an adult to accompany the girls on their first trip abroad, Meg isn’t exactly Grace’s first choice since she’s uptight, moody and judgmental to boot. But Grace’s mom sees it as an opportunity for the girls to bond, so despite Grace’s objections, she insists that Meg joins them. Plus, considering that high school dropout Emma (who Meg also can’t stand) can be a little flaky, having Meg along provides some peace of mind.

Like many, many American adventures in Europe before it, however, the girls’ trip doesn’t exactly get off to the smoothest of starts (cue the requisite fleabag motel and the familiar gag where they forget that European electric sockets are different than the ones back home). Adding insult to injury, Grace has apparently booked the worst tour of Paris possible.

Instead of languidly exploring the Louvre and savoring the sumptuous French cuisine, the girls are rushed through their experiences so quickly that they have no time to take it all in. So with the trip of a lifetime becoming nothing more than speeding through a jam-packed itinerary of must-sees, Grace is bummed to say the least.

Thankfully, this particular genre doesn’t allow its characters to mope around for long, though. In a welcome twist of pure serendipity, the girls accidentally “lose” their tour guide when they don’t make it down from the Eiffel Tower in time to catch up with the rest of the group. But rather than see this as an opportunity to explore Paris on their own terms, Grace starts bawling and sees herself as the colossal failure for not choosing someone better to lead the way.

Eventually hoping to pull it together in the restroom of a gorgeous nearby hotel, Emma and Meg just happen to run into a celebrity who’s the spitting image of Grace, the snooty, trouble-making Brit with an English accent so bad it practically makes Madonna’s equally fake one sound credible, Cordelia Winthrop Scott (also Gomez).