Who's In It: Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy, Cory Monteith, Pierre Boulanger, Luke Bracey, Andie MacDowell, Catherine Tate
The Basics: Selena Gomez is an unpopular misfit Texas teenager who wants nothing more than to escape her Last Picture Show-level town and run away to Paris. When she does this alongside her twangy, good ol'girl best friend Emma (Gossip Girl vet Katie Cassidy, also running away from a pain-in-the-ass hick boyfriend who resents her for taking a week's vacation) and her uptight, fun-killing stepsister Meg (even more Gossip Girl representation via Leighton Meester), the trio inadvertently get mixed up in a wacky scenario involving ditching Paris for Monte Carlo, mistaken identity--Gomez also plays a spoiled mean-girl heiress--and a priceless necklace gone missing, topped off by a romance trifecta that sinks everyone's plans to remain interesting.
What's The Deal: This isn't a movie about self-discovery. It's not a coming-of-age dramedy. They try to trick you into thinking that's what it's going to be in the opening 15 minutes but then they abandon that for the identical-strangers concept. Then they dump three scoops of gotta-get-a-boyfriend ice cream on top. Any personality any of these young women had in Act One is smothered by everything else by Act Three. So yeah, it's not even a magical tween Midnight in Paris. It's just a little bit of The Parent Trap and a little bit of What's Up Doc?, a little bit of The Suite Life on Deck and a little bit of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (one of the girls even tosses that movie an exasperated shout-out). But, ultimately, it's not hateful or anti-girl and if you happen to be 10 years old and female then you're probably going to love it.
Who Keeps It Going: Gomez. She's genuinely wholesome without that usual Disney Channel fakeness, appealing as both the good girl and the rich bitch and, thanks to director Thomas Bezucha, allowed to come across more or less like a real teenager--in admittedly fantasy-level predicaments--instead of an annoying, too-clever sarcasm machine.
Featuring The Wasted Talents Of: U.K. comic actress Catherine Tate, as the heiress's snooty aunt who smells a rat. Her entire time on screen involves speaking lines and moving through scenes in order to do nothing more than move the plot along. It's the kind of role they could have given to a sock puppet with a fancy British accent and no one would have known the difference. She deserves better.
The Possibility Of Pre-Pubescent Inspiration Still Exists: Somewhere out there, some little girl is going to latch on to this movie and give it the power to guide her through her crappy middle school experience. With any luck it'll light the fire of travel-as-freedom inside her and, later, she'll watch Charade, Breathless, Jules and Jim or even Paris J'Taime and then she'll spend her junior year of college in Paris, start smoking and realize that a silly Selena Gomez movie shaped her personality. She'll feel weird about that, but the cooler outcomes of taking that road will erase the embarrassment.