The Princess Switch

(Rohl, 2018)

The Princess Switch is a heart-warming and engaging Netflix Original movie that follows the stories of Stacy, a baker from Chicago, and Marguerite, the Duchess of the mythical country, Montenaro— both of whom are played by Vanessa Hudgens. Though there is a slow (and sizable) portion of the film that takes place prior to their first encounter, the film really picks up when Stacy and Marguerite accidentally meet and learn they are doppelgängers. 

The movie opens with Stacy traveling with her friend, Kevin, and his daughter, Olivia, to Belgravia for a baking competition. Belgravia is every bit the idyllic Christmas fantasyland that often characterizes the classic Hallmark holiday movie. The images of quaint red and green-decorated storefronts, red-cheeked children munching on candy canes, and sparkly white snow-covered streets is enough to put anyone in the Christmas spirit, but one can’t help but laugh at the perfectly decorated buildings and Christmas trees on every block. This movie is certainly a guilty pleasure, as it is so utterly ridiculous, but some audiences may find themselves fantasizing about a world where a utopia like Belgravia actually exist. 

It just so happens that the Prince of Belgravia is handsome and dashing and…preparing to marry Marguerite. However, Marguerite, just like in any classic fairytale, wishes to experience life as a normal girl before becoming a Princess. As I’m sure you can guess, this is where Stacy comes in, and all of the characters’ lives are turned upside down.

The Princess Switch is everything you could want from a fairytale, especially one set at Christmas time. There’s a Princess, a handsome Prince, a charming friend, more than one villain, and just a wee bit of magic. The plot is too predictable. In fact, you can probably guess what happens without even seeing the movie. However, viewers will marvel at the beautifully-decorated Christmas trees that adorn what seems like every square inch of Belgravia and the gorgeous clothes and jewelry that Marguerite (actually Stacy) dons (especially her red ball gown!). The soundtrack should also be mentioned, as it incorporates traditional Christmas carols into the music for the movie. This is an especially nice touch, as it adds to the overwhelming holiday spirit that is so entrenched in the setting of the movie.

That being said, The Princess Switch is certainly not without flaws. There are some puzzling moments throughout the movie that may have been overlooked during production, causing critical viewers to raise an eyebrow. For example, one scene shows Marguerite on her way to take a carriage ride with the Prince. However, she is wearing an extremely short skirt and stilettos without any tights… in the middle of winter. While the outfit is certainly fashionable, it seems an unlikely choice for being outside in the snow. In fact, Marguerite is shown wearing extremely unseasonable clothing throughout the movie. This is a problem. If you are looking to get a nice presentation of Hudgens’ legs then look no further, but it’s ultimately unnecessary. Could this be a ploy to show off her body? Potentially. The movie really could have benefitted from better and more realistic costuming— or at least something that was winter-appropriate. Overall, Vanessa Hudgens is extremely likable throughout the movie as both the bubbly yet obsessively organized Stacy and the reserved and proper Marguerite. However, her accent as Marguerite leaves something to be desired. The people of Belgravia seem to have mostly British accents, but maybe those of Montenaro, like Duchess Marguerite, speak with an odd, somewhat-British accent, as Hudgens does throughout the movie? Perhaps the director asked Hudgens to just speak very slowly and have strangely rounded vowel sounds. Whether intentional or not, her accent is bizarre. It’s yet another indication that this movie is ridiculous. But The Princess Switch is so gloriously mindless that you might just have fun while you watch it. Hudgens’ accent is atrocious, but easy to overlook if you wanted to.

In fact, many of the flaws of The Princess Switch are easily overlooked. The interactions and chemistry between the characters, especially between Marguerite and Kevin, are the real strong points of the movie. You can feel all the emotions of love, confusion, heartbreak, and hope that weave themselves throughout the film. The characters were perfectly cast so as to make even a mythical tale feel believable and significant. Anyone watching The Princess Switch will leave the movie a bit teary-eyed and wanting to create his or her own love story just in time for the Christmas season. This movie will play on the nostalgic emotions of anyone missing the days of High School Musical, or even those who simply love anything relating to Christmas. It’s crazy, absurd, dripping with sparkles and overflowing with Christmas trees— and if you like that sort of thing, then you’ll gobble up every second like Santa’s cookies. ★★½

Emma Steiner