As of writing this review, the only piece of criticism available for Mike Rohl’s The Princess Switch 3 is a parents guide which, sure, this feels age appropriate enough, but this movie is definitely for people who are old enough to smoke pot. One of the effects of smoking pot is memory loss, and the movie takes care of that by recapping what happened during the past two movies. This recap is also handy for busy people like me who have more obscure movies watch. The Princess Switch is about a Filipino baker working in Chicago, Stacy DeNovo (Vanessa Hudgens) who runs into Margaret (Hudgens, also the movie’s producer).
If you want to find out more about Margaret and Stacy’s shens, watch Katya and Trixie’s recap of the movie. The short version is that Margaret is the Duchess of Montenaro. She and Stacy decide to switch places or something. That first movie has 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. Anyway, the second is about Margaret’s cousin Fiona Pembroke (Hudgens) impersonating Margaret. In one of those movies Margaret marries Stacy’s best friend (Nick Sagar) And now viewers can see the second sequel. Here, Margaret and Stacy are planning a Christmas ceremony which involves The Star of Peace, a relic dating back from St. Nicholas.
Someone steals the star, and the only way to retrieve it is through the only person they know who knows any thieves from the underworld – Fiona. The Princess Switch 3 comes with a few twists. Fiona, surprisingly (?), decides to steal the star back out of guilt. Anyway that anti-heist plan involves her distracting the thief while her minions breaking into that guy’s secret room. Helping them is one of Fiona’s childhood friend/ex (Remy Hii). But during a trial run, one of those minions, Reggie (Ricky Norwood), twists both his neck and ankle. This means that the agile Fiona has to steal the star back herself. But Fiona can’t both distract the thief and steal the star back at once. But alas, she has two lookalikes who can do the former job.
I guess the parents guide having interest in Switch 3 makes sense because this second sequel is basically where Fiona airs out her mommy issues. I guess that’s the final twist, which, in fairness, the movie plants that Easter egg (wrong holiday) early enough. The first thought here is that I came here to have fun, not to learn that a stereotypical character has nuance. But alas, that probably says more about me. It also says tons about the cynical Netflix audiences than it does about the real Christmas spirit. The Christmas spirit is about watching a Christmas movie and then re-watching it. But the re-watches are with friends and one of you drink more and laugh with the movie. And this movie exists for that fun purpose.
A few addendums. First, that this screenwriter Robin Bernheim basically wrote a heist film. This got me to thinking about the other McGuffins in those other movies like the safes in the Army series and the eggs in Red Notice, which I hope stays as a one and done movie. The silver lining in this is that yes, history is a passing thought in these films but they’re at least think of those bygone eras positively. Back then, people actually had the skill set to make objects that last the test of time. This is a relief to me as an art history major who dislikes it when people dismiss past cultures as inherently backward. But I’m also being a nerd right now.
Second, that Vanessa Hudgens may just be my generation’s Eddie Murphy, the first of a few obvious comparisons being that both actors are in movies where they play multiple roles. The second and probably a more tenuous comparison is the close release dates of their erratically different films. Murphy was the favourite to win for the Oscar for Dreamgirls but destroyed that by doing Norbit, which also has its own Oscar nominations. Hudgens needs a Hail Mary pass to even get precursor nominations for her excellent work in tick, tick… BOOM! and she might uzi those chances because this movie, as fun and silly as it is. Hollywood’s a weird town, this movie’s weird, but a good kind of weird.
Third is that Hudgens’ Christmas romcom works around this unwritten rule that the other Netflix romcoms do. Or maybe, there are no rules. From what I know about The Kissing Booth series is that Joey King only has two romantic interests. In the Boys series, Lana Condor’s character has three but those three come out during two of the three installments. This series also toes that line, staggering out the love interests but it feels ok because Hudgens is, again, playing different characters. I think these movies introduce those love interests to make their female protagonist seem not slutty. Or maybe introducing one love interest per film makes it boring theoretically, but thankfgully it doesn’t feel that way here.
Anyway, watch The Princess Switch 3 on Netflix.