A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Selena Gomez movie is a "chick flick lite," with as much dating and finding yourself as most made-for-TV movies on Disney or Nickelodeon. More eyebrow-raising than the mild language ("ass," "stupid," "frak") and romance (just a few short-and-sweet kisses) is the product placement, which includes luxury brands like Bulgari jewelry; Oscar de la Renta gowns, and Gucci, Chanel, and Mercedes Benz products/labels. Although the girls obviously do something criminal by impersonating a rich look-alike, the movie's overall lesson is still tied to Gandhi's famous quote: "Be the change you want to see in the world."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Grace (Selena Gomez) has been saving for a post-graduation trip to Paris all through high school. But when the moment arrives to take off with her older best friend, Emma (Katie Cassidy), Grace's parents announce that her estranged step-sister, Meg (Leighton Meester), must join the duo on their vacation. When their over-scheduled tour group leaves the trio behind, the rain-soaked girls seek temporary refuge in a luxury hotel's loo. They overhear a caustic young British heiress named Cordelia Winthrop Scott (also Gomez) talk about jetting off to Spain instead of attending a charity event. After the hotel staff mistakes Grace for Cordelia, the American girls find themselves on an all-expenses-paid trip to Monaco. Once they arrive, Grace-as-Cordelia meets Theo (Pierre Boulanger), the handsome heir of a philanthropic family who's in charge of escorting her around MONTE CARLO.
Is it any good?
This is one of those sugary sweet cinematic trifles that could be shown on television without any major edits. There's no overt sexuality, language, or violence -- just three young women getting to play dress up in the fabulously wealthy principality of Monaco. The dramatic tension is more about self-reflection than any external force; once you believe that Grace could impersonate Cordelia in this age of heightened security, it's easy to trust that the trio won't fall into the hands of the police, so you can just sit back and enjoy their sight-seeing and fashion displays.
Emma needs to see that money won't bring happiness -- and that her steadfast fiance, Owen (Glee star Cory Monteith), will. Meg just has to take some risks and have some fun, which involves going on an epic date with Riley (Luke Bracey), a hunky Aussie with wanderlust. And, of course, Grace needs to confess to Theo that he's smitten with a "regular American girl," not an aristocratic Brit. It's all predictably uplifting and sweet and will make young girls across America want to visit the City of Lights in hopes of their own romantic, life-affirming adventures.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of mistaken-identity/character-swapping movies. Do we all sometimes wish we could pretend to be someone else? Why? What makes someone else's life seem more desirable?
Does this movie make you wish you had fancier/more expensive things? Is that the intent? How does media influence what audiences want?
Like a modern-day fairy tale, the girls are all given their very own "prince." Was it necessary for each of the characters to have her own romantic storyline? What kind of message does that send to teens, especially girls?
- In theaters: July 1, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: October 18, 2011
- Cast: Katie Cassidy, Leighton Meester, Selena Gomez
- Director: Thomas Bezucha
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: brief mild language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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