When Stacy De Nova, a baker from Chicago, travels to Belgravia with her friend/employee Kevin to take part in the annual Belgravian baking competition, she discovers that she looks just like Duchess Margaret, who is set to marry the Belgravian prince. Margaret wants to know what it feels like to be a “normal person” and suggests the two secretly switch places for a couple of days, but things get far more complicated that the two could have guessed.
Cheesy Christmas movies are very popular, as the Hallmark Channel knows very well, so it’s no surprise that Netflix has jumped on board to make some of their own. This season sees the release of a sequel to their original film A Christmas Prince, as well as Princess Switch, a movie that stars Vanessa Hudgens playing both a duchess from the imaginary Belgravia and a professional baker from Chicago who look like one another and trade places for a couple days.
For full cheesy fun, I have to rate The Princess Switch highly. It combines a lot of elements viewers love in these types of films: royalty, baking, switching places, shenanigans ensuing when the protagonists fall in love with the “wrong” people. There’s also the charming imaginary kingdom that goes all-out for Christmas and an adorable child who stars alongside the adult characters. Netflix seems to figure that you might as well smash all this together and get the ultimate fun, feel-good film, and they’re not necessarily wrong.
In terms of actual plot there seems to be less at stake in The Princess Switch than there could be. There are a couple hiccups, but I wouldn’t say there’s a highly dramatic climax. On one hand, this means the film doesn’t necessarily have the strongest narrative arc and things might feel a bit flat to viewers. On the other hand, if you’re in the book to just watch something fun and positive, this is a great choice. There are times in my life when I really just don’t want to watch terrible things happens to characters, so keeping things relatively upbeat can be a nice change.
Finally, I think rating this as a Christmas movie is a bit more difficult. On one hand, I have to admit Christmas is woven in. It happens at Christmas. Belgravia has a fun Christmas village the characters keep visiting. All the interior settings are decorated. People talk about Christmas spirit. Etc. On the other hand, something about it really did just feel like background scenery to me, and I think the Christmas feeling could have been more strongly infused.
So, should you watch this? If you like feel good Christmas movies of this type, this will be right up your alley. If you’re looking for quality cinema, maybe not. This is fun and fluffy, and I enjoyed it, but I don’t think anyone’s claiming it’s great art.