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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Monte Carlo

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Katie Cassidy, Selena Gomez and Leighton Meester star in a scene from the movie "Monte Carlo."
"Monte Carlo" (Fox) is the flimsiest of teen-girl romantic fantasies based on the sturdiest of ancient tropes, the mistaken-identity plot.

While Selena Gomez, the Disney Channel star at the heart of this overly long but inoffensive enterprise, is no comedic actor, her devoted fans are unlikely to notice.

Director Thomas Bezucha, who co-wrote with April Blair and Maria Maggenti, wisely supports Gomez—in the central role of recent high school grad Grace—with Katie Cassidy as pal Emma and Leighton Meester as stepsister Meg—then sets the trio loose on misadventures in Paris as well as in the principality of the title.

The three girls from a small town in Texas have scrimped and saved for their dream vacation in the City of Light, which, predictably enough, turns out to be the stereotypical low-budget nightmare compounded of bad hotels and a breathless sprint through the sights.

Accidentally separated from their tour at the Eiffel Tower, the friends are drying out from a rainstorm at the nearest luxury hotel when they discover that Grace is a dead ringer for one of the upscale hostelry's current guests, British socialite Cordelia Winthrop Scott (Gomez again, with an accent that slides around like her lip gloss).

The ingenues abroad have only to walk out the door again for this resemblance to launch them on Cordelia's intended trip to Monte Carlo, where an expensive necklace is to be auctioned off for the benefit a school for impoverished children in Romania.

Doing the right thing early on would, of course, kill the plot and the opportunities to stay in a roomy hotel suite, dress up, meet handsome fellows, loll on the beach, and all that good stuff. The girls know there's a moral quandary involved, but it's such a fun time—and for such a fine cause as well.

"It's stealing!" Meg reflects out loud. "It's seizing the moment," Grace replies. And that's about as profound as the ethical debate ever becomes.

On the plus side, the soundtrack includes Louis Armstrong singing all the lyrics to the Edith Piaf classic "La Vie en Rose," to the lush strains of which we stroll toward the happiest of happy wrap-ups.

The film contains some mild sensuality. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.





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Catherine of Siena: The value Catherine makes central in her short life and which sounds clearly and consistently through her experience is complete surrender to Christ. What is most impressive about her is that she learns to view her surrender to her Lord as a goal to be reached through time. 
<p>She was the 23rd child of Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa and grew up as an intelligent, cheerful and intensely religious person. Catherine disappointed her mother by cutting off her hair as a protest against being overly encouraged to improve her appearance in order to attract a husband. Her father ordered her to be left in peace, and she was given a room of her own for prayer and meditation. </p><p>She entered the Dominican Third Order at 18 and spent the next three years in seclusion, prayer and austerity. Gradually a group of followers gathered around her—men and women, priests and religious. An active public apostolate grew out of her contemplative life. Her letters, mostly for spiritual instruction and encouragement of her followers, began to take more and more note of public affairs. Opposition and slander resulted from her mixing fearlessly with the world and speaking with the candor and authority of one completely committed to Christ. She was cleared of all charges at the Dominican General Chapter of 1374. </p><p>Her public influence reached great heights because of her evident holiness, her membership in the Dominican Third Order, and the deep impression she made on the pope. She worked tirelessly for the crusade against the Turks and for peace between Florence and the pope </p><p>In 1378, the Great Schism began, splitting the allegiance of Christendom between two, then three, popes and putting even saints on opposing sides. Catherine spent the last two years of her life in Rome, in prayer and pleading on behalf of the cause of Urban VI and the unity of the Church. She offered herself as a victim for the Church in its agony. She died surrounded by her "children" and was canonized in 1461. </p><p>Catherine ranks high among the mystics and spiritual writers of the Church. In 1939, she and Francis of Assisi were declared co-patrons of Italy. Paul VI named her and Teresa of Avila doctors of the Church in 1970. Her spiritual testament is found in <i>The Dialogue</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The gates of hell cannot withstand the power of heaven. Gates of sin melt in the presence of saving grace; gates of death fall in the presence of eternal life; gates of falsehood collapse in the presence of living truth; gates of violence are flattened in the presence of divine love. These are the tools with which Christ has equipped his Church.

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