Netflix UK film review: The Princess Switch: Switched Again
James R | On 13, Dec 2020
Director: Mike Rohl
Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, John Jack, Sam Palladio, Mark Fleischmann, Mia Lloyd
Watch The Princess Switch: Switched Again online in the UK: Netflix UK
What’s the one thing better than Vanessa Hudgens? Two Vanessa Hudgens. That was the logic behind The Princess Switch, Netflix’s festive take on The Prince and the Pauper that delivered some fun rom-com entertainment in 2018. Inevitably, this sequel takes that logic one step further – now, there are three of her.
The first film introduced us to Chicago baker Stacy (Hudgens), who was invited by the Royal Family of Belgravia to compete in an annual regal tournament. While there, she crossed paths with her lookalike, Margaret (Hudgens), the Duchess of Montenaro. With one week before Christmas, and with Margaret about to marry, they swapped places for the holiday season, so they each could taste the other person’s life. But with Stacy boasting a handsome co-worker – Kevin (Sagar) – and Margaret’s fiancee a dashing prince – Edward (Sam Palladio) – there are no prizes for guessing what happened. Fast forward to the present day and Kevin and Margaret’s relationship has broken down, which leads her and Stacy to swap back again to give Margaret a chance to spend time with him again.
But while all of this goes on, the plot is thickened by the arrival of Fiona (Hudgens), Margaret’s party-girl cousin who has come up with a plot to steal the throne – yes, you guessed it, kidnap Margaret and switch places just in time for her coronation. The word “plot”, though, is used lightly, and the film’s narrative never thickens to the point where it becomes difficult to wade through. Where Netflix’s other Christmas franchise, A Christmas Prince, delved into constitutional crises and family trees to try and pad out its sequels, returning writers Robin Bernheim and Megan Metzger know exactly what they need to fill up a second outing: more of the warm silliness that made the first one so enjoyable.
Hudgens, once again, is visibly having fun in the lead roles, from the velvety-voiced Margaret and the no-nonsense Stacy to each of them unsubtly attempting to impersonate the other. Fiona is the icing on the cake, swanning about with the pizazz of a deleted character from BBC One’s Hustle. That energy is infectious and, with the film never asking us to take things seriously – including a running joke about Hudgens’ tattoo being visible, perhaps in a nod to criticisms of the first film – it’s hard not to chuckle at the knowing absurdity of it all.
The star of the show, though, is Nick Sagar, whose nuanced turn as Henry once again brings a surprising depth to his relationship with Margaret – and with his daughter, Olivia (Mia Lloyd). He produces an unexpectedly sincere examination of what happens in a relationship after the happy-ever-after has worn off, but still keeps things as light as a dusting of icing sugar, a balance that’s trickier than it looks. At just 90 minutes, the result is a cinematic confection that hits the festive sweet spot without outstaying its welcome – and, yes, even makes you look forward to the already-announced third outing. If the formula works, why change it?
The Princess Switch: Switched Again is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.