My best laid plans have fallen by the wayside. Around June, I had this plan to devote the entire month of December to checking out Christmas/Holiday films and television specials. I even had a cute name for it: Holiday-Palooza. It isn’t unique, but it sounds cute! Anyway, Holiday-Palooza would’ve been a good way for me to figure out what to write about (as it’s already been pre-planned out) and there are just so many holiday films out there already! Too bad, at the first week of the month, I totally and utterly forgot and wrote about something else!
Oh, well. Better late than never, am I right? So, to make up for my blunder, I decided to watch two holiday movies for my first entry for Holiday-Palooza. Those films are The Princess Switch and The Princess Switch: Switched Again. Both films are on Netflix and, well, I kind of forgot I was watching them on Netflix. I’ll explain later.
Anyway, let’s talk about the first film, The Princess Switch. This movie has Chicago baker Stacy De Novo competing in a Christmas baking contest in the country of Belgravia. She runs into Lady Margaret Delacourt, the Dutchess of Montenaro and the fiancee to Prince Edward of Belgravia. Margaret proposes that, since they look incredibly alike, they switch places so she can spend a few days living a more spontaneous life. In order to get Olivia, the daughter of her sous chef Kevin, into a prestigious ballet summer program, Stacey agrees to the request. As predicted, hijinx ensues.
It’s not like I haven’t watched Christmas movies in the past. I mean, they’re kind of hard to avoid during the holiday period. I’m more familiar with the more established and big-budgeted kinds, like The Santa Clause and Elf. However, I have run across some of the more, shall we say, cookie cutter variety usually put out by Hallmark channel. I had some very serious feelings of deja vu while watching The Princess Switch because it simply feels like the folks and Netflix saw one of them and copied it beat for beat!
It’s kind of difficult to describe the Hallmark television movie formula but they just feel super safe and trite in an oh-so-specific manner. My issue with this formula is two-fold. One, it’s just really predictable. That’s not to say being predictable is bad. There are some movies where you know what is going to be the outcome the instant the opening credits roll. However, the Hallmark formula doesn’t even try to make you think they’re going to change things up. There are just no surprises and with The Princess Switch, yeah. What you see is what you’re going to get.
Two, all the characters are just so… nice to an unrealistic state. None of the protagonists do a single naughty thing! There’s just no texture to them to make them feel like they’re real people. That goes double for the male characters as they come off as perfect and understanding! It just feels so blah.
There is a “villain” here but I use the term very loosely as she doesn’t do anything. Oh, she does try something but it doesn’t affect the story one iota. She could’ve been easily written out and the story and nothing would’ve changed. It makes me wonder why she’s here… oh, yeah. Hallmark formula.
The Princess Switch might have an incredibly predictable story and really bland characters but I will have to give props to Vanessa Hudgens for playing both Stacy De Novo and Lady Margaret. There’s just something about the way she portrays both characters that works as she gives them some rather distinct quirks which worked for me. Oh, her English accent is decent as Lady Margaret but it’s the way she, as Lady Margaret, sounds when she’s trying to be Stacy De Novo. The American accent sounds rather forced, which is how a person with an English accent would sound like! The same goes with Stacy De Novo’s fake English accent. Oh, and her facial expressions and microexpressions are priceless here.
Even with my complaints, The Princess Switch is just inoffensive enough but it’s Vanessa Hudgens dual performances that made it more than bearable to watch all the way through.
With that out of the way, let’s talk the sequel, The Princess Switch: Switched Again. It turns out, while, Stacy De Novo and Prince Edward found their happy ever after, Lady Margaret and Kevin didn’t. The latter broke up when Lady Margaret was informed she was going to be queen of Montenaro. With Lady Margaret’s coronation coming soon, Stacy drags Kevin to Montenaro in the hopes of bringing them back together. Stacy then suggest they switch again so that Lady Margaret can spend more time with Kevin to try to figure things out. However, things get a little more complicated when Dutchess Fiona, Lady Margaret’s cousin, hatches a plan to steal some of the Montenaro’s coffers and add it to her bank account.
Before I do properly discuss the movie, I have a bone to pick with Netflix regarding the title. Switched Again? That’s really the best you could’ve come up with, Netflix? It’s such a lame way to name a sequel! I mean, sure, it’s more creative than attaching a number “2” to the end but that doesn’t mean it’s better! What are you going to name the 3rd entry? The Princess Switch: Switched Once More?
Anyway, if the first Princess Switch felt like a Hallmark movie, Switched Again feels more like a Disney Television movie. That’s primarily because of the addition of the villain of the film, the Dutchess Fiona. She comes of as like a weird, over the top, rich, spoiled socialite. You know, the traditional stuck-up villain you would see in other Disney movies. She even has minions and bootlickers who serve her! She even calls them minions! If that’s not a traditional Disney baddie, I don’t know what is!
This change of tone, from Hallmark to Disney, does feel strange, especially if you watched both movies back to back like I did. There’s also a lot more cartoony slapstick in Switched Again, something that wasn’t that apparent in the first movie. They do a much better job in incorporating more dynamic shots in the second film, making the way they spliced in Vanessa Hudgens into the footage look more realistic and natural. The characters also feel a little more fleshed out as they *gasp* actually have some character flaws now! Oh, they’re minor problems but it’s loads better than the perfection we got from the first film!
Once again, Vanessa Hudgens is the reason to watch Switched Again and, not only does she have to portray both Stacy De Novo and Lady Margaret. She also has to be Dutchess Fiona and, honestly, I like the way she did Fiona. There are a lot of neat little touches with her body language when she does her and the way she says some really dumb things just matches the character. I can’t really say the same thing for Dutchess Fiona’s minions but, hey! They do work as minions for a Disney villain.
Suffice to say, I liked Switched Again much more than the first Princess Switch. Maybe it’s because I’m more akin to Disney than Hallmark. I do think you can skip the first movie as Switched Again does mostly stand on its own but, at the same time, I wouldn’t recommend it as the first movie is not terrible; it’s just unremarkable but fun thanks to Vanessa Hudgens performances. If you do have to watch one, watched Switched Again, though.
Have you seen The Princess Switch? What about Switched Again? Let me know what you thought of these movies in the comments section below!