Netflix serves up more sugary sweet but harmless fluff to kick off the holiday movie season.
Do you really think we can pull it off...again?” Duchess Margaret asks her maybe-cousin, definite doppelganger Princess Stacy, as the two prepare once again to step into each other's lives. Directed by Mike Rohl and written by Robin Bernheim Burger and Megan Metzger (all returning from 2018’s The Princess Switch), The Princess Switch: Switched Again is here for the holiday season to answer that very question.
The Princess Switch concluded with plucky American Stacy as the newlywed Princess of Belgravia and Duchess Margaret in a relationship with Stacy’s BFF Kevin, seemingly poised for happily ever afters all around. This time around, we learn that Stacy (Vanessa Hudgens) has neglected her marriage a bit with princess and baking duties, and Margaret (also Vanessa Hudgens) has unexpectedly become Queen of Montenaro, resulting in her and Kevin’s breakup.
Prince Edward (Sam Palladio, who is English yet sounds like he’s faking it) and Kevin (Nick Sagar, who is English playing American and doing a great job) are lovely male setpieces, overwhelmed yet charmed by their respective love interests. Poor Edward mostly gazes after Stacy with a slightly bewildered look on his face and is sad that they don’t spend enough time together. Well, Edward, you’re a royal with a lot on his plate and your wife is a meddler switching places with her look-alike. It’s tough to work through.
Stacy convinces Kevin and his daughter Olivia (Mia Lloyd) to spend Christmas in Montenaro and attend Margaret’s coronation; Stacy and Olivia are eager to try and rekindle Kevin and Margaret’s relationship. But when Margaret’s various responsibilities (and her Chief of Staff Antonio, played by a suitably oily Lachlan Nieboer) get in the way of her spending any time with Kevin, she and Stacy decide there’s only one thing to do: switch again. That way, Stacy can handle Margaret’s royal errands for the day, and Margaret can hang out with Kevin. Simple, right?
From there, things proceed in a pleasant, predictable way until a happily ever after that both threads in another popular Netflix Christmas franchise and promises that we’re going to be doing all of this again, probably next Christmas.
But, in the grand tradition of soap operas and Orphan Black, this time there’s another one. The third look-alike is Lady Fiona Pembrooke (Vanessa Hudgens!), Margaret’s cousin, a penniless socialite who survives on stealing from richer folk and general vague grifts. She’s also, with her blonde wig, funky fascinators, and slightly cheeky comments, clearly the one Hudgens is having the most fun playing. Along with minions Mindy (Florence Hall) and Reggie (Ricky Norwood), Fiona plots to kidnap and switch places with Margaret for her coronation, gaining access to the royal bank accounts. Once she switches some money to an offshore account, she, Reggie, and Mindy will take off and live off of that money for life!
From there, things proceed in a pleasant, predictable way until a happily ever after that both threads in another popular Netflix Christmas franchise and promises that we’re going to be doing all of this again, probably next Christmas. There are misunderstandings and miscommunications (Edward unloads a lot of marital worries onto Stacy, whom he thinks is Margaret), Belgravian butler Frank (Mark Fleischmann) is just along for the ride, and Margaret’s loyal assistant Mrs. Donatelli (Suanne Braun) is more capable than anyone deserves, and everyone is having a good time.
Awash with Christmas music and montages (there’s a castle decorating montage 10 minutes into the movie and a “here we are, switching again!” montage half an hour after that), The Princess Switch: Switched Again isn’t here to shake up the holiday movie status quo, but does it want to? One aspect that every Netflix holiday romcom has shared has been the knowledge of exactly what they’re doing, and Switched Again is no slouch. It’s frothy and bright, and for all that these should be extremely high stakes (heads of state, kidnapped and kidnapping and switching at will!) they’re played for laughs and maybe a little bitty “Oh no," but just under your breath. It’s not even any kind of spoiler to have told you that it ends happily, we already know that it will.
The flaw in the film is its similarity to the first one: watching Switched Again has a necessary prerequisite in The Princess Switch, but fans of the first may not be as charmed a second time. There’s never enough reason that the initial switch has to take place (Margaret can’t just block out an hour or two for Kevin? Edward and Stacy have left Belgravia for seemingly weeks.); it only takes place to provide a twist to Fiona’s plans. If anything, Switched Again needs at least 25% less plot. Stacy and Edward’s marital issues, Kevin and Margaret’s relationship woes, Margaret’s new role as Queen, and Fiona’s machinations are just too many Christmas cookies in this particular tin.
That tin is a pretty one, though, so while The Princess Switch: Switched Again is doubtful to linger in anyone’s minds until the trailers for the third one inevitably drop, it’s a cute little royal diversion.
The Princess Switch: Switched Again is now available on Netflix