Last year, I decided to create a whole new tradition for this blog by creating Holiday-Palooza. It’s when I took the entirety of the month of December and review Christmas and Christmas-themed movies. I’m super glad we’re transferring it to the I’ll Review Anything section as I do have so much to say during the holiday season and I don’t have to use my Robin’s Adventures slot to review movies.
Anyway, the very first movies I did review when I started Holiday-Palooza, the first couple of films I did look at were Netflix’s The Princess Switch and The Princess Switch 2. So it only seems to be proper I review the latest entry in this apparently burgeoning Netflix Christmas film series. It looks like I was the person who just had to watch and review The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star.
I kind of wish I hadn’t. I’ll tell you this early on in this SPOILER FREE review of The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star. I simply didn’t like it. There, you can basically leave already but I will go into detail on the reasons why I disliked it as well as some of the things I think it did okay.
The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star takes place about a year after the events of the second film. Margaret is now Queen of the fictional kingdom of Montenaro and she and Stacy, now the Princess of Belgravia after marrying Prince Edward, are hosting a Christmas festival in the country. When the Star of Peace, an revered antique loaned by the Vatican, is stolen and the police have no leads, Margaret and Stacy turn to Lady Fiona Pembrooke, Margaret’s cousin and the woman who tried to steal her crown in the previous film, as she might have the necessary connections to find out who the thief is.
Right off the bat, I will have to say I’m very impressed with Vanessa Hudgens as, like in the last film, has to play triple duty as she plays Fiona, Stacy and Magaret all throughout the film. She has to add a dimension of each of them, giving them their own accents and personalities. She then has to pretend one of them is pretending to be one of the other girls, meaning she still has to sneak in the original personality while trying to cover it up at the same time. She’s basically the reason why The Princess Switch films worked for me in the past.
I also do appreciate all the work of all the actors involved because, since Vanessa Hudgens has to play a total of three people in the film and they all sometimes appear in the same scene, this inadvertently means all of the people involved in the scene have to reshoot it at least twice. They have to do that to get rid of the double in editing. That’s a whole other layer of commitment for something as silly as this Netflix family friendly film.
However, besides Vanessa Hudgens and the entire crew’s level of commitment to trying to make this the best film as possible, The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star just fails for me on every other level. From the characters to the plot and even down to the feel good moments, I just couldn’t get into the film.
My first real gripe is the introduction of Peter Maxwell, Fiona’s ex-boyfriend and disgraced Interpol operative. He’s just too… perfect. He never seems makes a mistake and, when he does, it’s immediately resolved a few minutes later. He’s rich, smart and too nice for his own good, making him a weird foil for Fiona. He’s basically there to be this “perfect match” for Fiona and, well, it just doesn’t work. Without him having some kind of flaw to match with Fiona’s attempts of self-growth, he comes off as super bland and uninteresting.
The villain here as well comes off as super underdeveloped. He’s supposed to be this really evil guy who likes to collect expensive things, hence the theft of the Star of Peace. However, you never really see him do anything particularly cruel. The worst thing he does is firing one of his wait staff personnel as they ran out of vintage wine. That’s the worst thing Netflix could come up with? I get The Princess Switch films are family friendly entertainment and they can’t really show anything particularly cruel but they could have at least shown him to be cartoonishly, over the top, evil.
The entire idea of switching places also is never taken full advantage of, in my mind, at least. They do have this double switcheroo during something like the final third of this 106-minute film. This has Maraget impersonating Fiona to distract the bad guy while the real Fiona in engaged in another activity. Stacy also dresses up as Fiona to cover for her at the last minute. The thing that bugs me is there was really no need for Magaret to even dress up as Fiona because there was utterly no need to distract the bad guy at that moment as he’s already distracted by other unrelated things!
Also, most of the characters who were established in the first films are pushed to the side as the film focuses more on Fiona. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing as she was the best character in the second film. It does, however, come about by sacrificing any substantial screentime for the other characters, making them feel totally unnecessary. I bet you could easily re-write the entire screenplay and just have Fiona decide on this particular caper and it would still work. They couldn’t do that, of course, as it had to be a sequel so everyone from the previous films have to be involved, even if it’s very minimal.
Perhaps my biggest gripe with the movie is it just doesn’t come off as charming. I know these kinds of movies are supposed to be cheesy and dumb but in a good way. The Princess Switch 3 is certainly cheesy and dumb but in a bad way. It lacks the special kind of self-awareness of other good family friendly films so it can get away with it. It just was too trite and it felt like they were checking off a list of things instead of really trying to do the best with what they have.
Am I being too hard on The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star? Perhaps. After all, it’s supposed to be this inoffensive, feel-good movie to watch during the Christmas season. However, the only way I can review anything is from my point-of-view and I simply couldn’t get into it. Even Vanessa Hudgens playing three roles perfectly couldn’t save it.
Then again, I’ll probably be back in next year’s Holiday-Palooza reviewing The Princess Switch 4: And Baby Makes More or something along those lines.
Have you seen The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!