Selena Gomez is currently starring in the light comedy Monte Carlo.  Gomez plays Texas teenager Grace who is about to graduate from high school. She has been saving her waitressing tips to finance a trip to Paris.  (It is understandable why she wishes to visit France as the opening montage of her town looks like it was taken from The Last Picture Show.)   Grace plans to travel with her best friend and fellow waitress, Emma (Katie Cassidy).

Grace is the product of an aggregated, Brady Bunch-type family. In response to the tension between her and stepsister Meg (Leighton Meester), their parents encourage Meg to go along on the trip, hoping the vacation will be a bonding experience for the two sisters.

The three young ladies head off for Europe and rather quickly get separated from their tourist group.  Soon, one of the oldest comedic plot devices (mistaken identity) is employed.   While in Paris, Grace is mistaken for wealthy socialite Cordelia Winthrop Scott.  Grace and her two companions decide to play along with the error and soon find themselves enjoying the luxuries of Monte Carlo where Scott was to have participated in a charity event.

The remainder of the film deals with Grace switching back and forth between identities and trying to keep the real Cordelia Scott at bay.   Gomez is effective playing an ultra-reserved, arrogant socialite alternating with a more modest homegrown girl.

The film is reminiscent of 1930’s screwball comedies where the affluence of the characters and the silliness of the plot were designed to distract from the more dire circumstances outside the theatre walls.

Perhaps to compensate for the fact that much of the settings are so opulent, the film does have a few socially conscious moments.  The climax takes place at a charity auction. Gandhi’s phrase  “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” is quoted several times.

It is curious the film was released concurrent with the wedding of Monte Carlo’s Prince Albert.   Monte Carlo and Hollywood have intersected in memorable ways in the past.  Grace Kelly, of course, married Prince Rainier in 1956.  She also starred with Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief, which took place in Monte Carlo.  The principality seems to evoke an enchanted image perfect for Hollywood entertainment.  In fact, the movie has something of a fairy tale story arc where the three female leads each find her own prince (or in this case, beau).   Grace/Cordelia’s boyfriend is performed by Pierre Boulanger, who resembles a French 20-something Tom Cruise.

It is hard to imagine a film with a lighter texture than Monte Carlo.   It is pure escapist entertainment, like taking a relaxing afternoon shore-line cruise whose effect is soothing while not being terribly memorable.