Netflix rings in the holiday season with another sequel to its hit fantasy series that’s sillier & fluffier than ever.
The temperatures are dropping and the stores are getting crowded, which can only mean one thing…it’s time for another installment of Netflix’s holiday cavity-maker…no, not that one. Noth that one either. That’s right, we’re talking Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star, so grab your peppermint martinis and your fuzziest slippers as we delve into the film that begs the question “Is Vanessa Hudgens using Netflix as a vehicle to kiss cute boys?” Fair warning, there are some spoilers ahead.
If you were to list out all the wacky shit to be found in Romancing the Star, you’d see just how much the pandemic affected the writers and executives over at Netflix. There are heists! Catsuits! Training montages! Sad childhoods! Ice skating! Tangoes! While the third installment might be the cheekiest and most hijink-heavy yet, it buckles under the weight of its attempt at zaniness, with a smattering of hamfisted pop culture references thrown in for maximum cringe. That said, this is easily the most sexed-up and emotionally resonant of the three Princess Switch movies, so it’s not all bad.
Determined to teach us rubes once and for all that Vanessa Hudgens has range, we once again have her not only juggling the roles of Queen Maggie and Stacy from Chicago, but also that of Lady Fiona, Maggie’s cousin and villain of Princess Switch 2. While Maggie and Stacy have been doing hot girl shit like running a country together, Fiona has been cooling her heels in a remote convent, where she still gets full acrylic manicures and a never-ending supply of MAC’s Ruby Woo. The bulk of the action focuses on Fiona, who Maggie enlists to help infiltrate the criminal underworld after some BVB (big Vatican bling) is stolen from the castle. This would be the ‘Star’ in question, as the bauble on loan from the Pope is called the Star of Peace. Cause, you know, if there’s anything the Catholic Church is known for… it’s peace.
Within her first five minutes in the castle, Fiona not only figures out that the culprit behind the theft is a slimy hotel heir who has always been in love with her, but she also enlists the help of a sexy INTERPOL agent Peter Maxwell (Remy Hii), who has also always been in love with her. And really, who could blame them? Fiona is so over the top and ridiculous that you can’t help but love her. The accent is so bananas I started thinking she hailed from the Kingdom of Molarvania, where people are born without the ability to unclench their jaw. And while she (hilariously) pretends that Stacy doesn’t even exist, she throws cat growls at Prince Edward (Sam Palladio) and slinks around in the tightest and most spangly outfits ever seen outside of the main stage of RuPaul’s Drag Race, all to remind us that Vanessa Hudgens is hot. Damn, Netflix, we already knew this!
While helping get her cousin out of her BVJ (big Vatican jam) Fiona still finds time to relive her sad childhood, thanks to lifelong friend Peter. It turns out that Fiona’s jet-setting mum was only too happy to dump her kid into boarding school and peace out for pretty much the rest of Fiona’s life. Naturally, this has made FiFi a little commitment-phobic, a fact that Peter seems only too happy to remind her of throughout. But he also taught her about the Big Dipper, so that seems like a fair trade.
And while there is a segment of both Maggie and Stacy pretending to be Fiona while Fiona and Peter steal back the BVB, the action is less switch and more heist, with Fiona Catherine Zeta-Jonesing all over the royal parquet and Peter confounding security lasers with his B-boy moves. It’s entertaining enough but hardly deserves to use “Switch” in the title.
The latter half of Romancing the Star comes with the heaviest emotional blows, with Fiona questioning Peter’s loyalties and the sudden reappearance of her mom Bianca (Amanda Donohoe), fully repentant thanks to her time spent in an ashram. Honestly, did The Princess Switch ever meet a cliche it didn’t love? Fiona isn’t so ready to forgive, nor should she be. If there is anything that comes through loud and clear, it’s that Bianca has not given two shits about her kid until very, very recently. And here’s where I pull up my soapbox, so listen well when I say It’s okay to not forgive the people who have hurt and traumatized you. There are some hurts that can’t be forgotten simply because of what time of year it is. Please, do not take life advice from Netflix holiday romcoms.
Look, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that these are great movies, but here’s the thing, you can still totally enjoy something that isn’t all that good! Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star isn’t ever going to make it into anyone’s Letterboxd top 4, but it’s entertaining enough to have on in the background while you’re decorating the tree or mixing up peppermint martinis. Hudgens is doing a lot of everything, and there were several moments where I laughed out loud at the sheer insanity of it all. The heist training montage might be my favorite thing I’ve seen on Netflix after Midnight Mass. And if you’re looking for something less preachy than the fare over at Hallmark, this is a delightful—if ridiculous—option, and reminder that you should never cross the Vatican.
Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star is now streaming on Netflix.