The Princess Switch Makes Zero Sense
Have you noticed Vanessa Hudgens had been avoiding sweet for a while? It seems like after a slew of “tough girl” roles (Sucker Punch, Gimme Shelter) she has found her niche: Christmas Movies of the Week. How have we not figured this out sooner? She’s totally the next Lacey Chabert! She has enough star power to headline a film but not too big to overshadow the rest of the cast. Everyone wants to be a movie star but MOW actors WORK.
The Princess Switch is a bonkers movie about Chicago baker, Stacy De Novo (Vanessa Hudgens) who travels to Belgravia for a baking contest with her sous chef and best friend, Kevin (Nick Sagar) and his young daughter Olivia (Alexa Adeosun). Pretty much right after she arrives Stacy runs into Duchess Margaret Delacourt (also Hudgens) who happens to look exactly like her. Their uncanny resemblance is lazily explained as the girls being distant relatives or whatever. Anyway, Margaret wants to know what it’s like to be a “normal girl”, i.e. poor before she marries Belgravia’s Prince Edward. Stacy agrees to switch places with her for a week. Cue a tired montage of the two teaching each other to walk and talk like each other. Margaret’s interpretation of Americanisms is slouching and saying “yo, yo, yo.” Which, fair. Hudgens does a Downton Abbey accent for 10 percent of the film as Margaret but then as Stacy pretending to be Margaret (I’m already tired) she does an intentionally bad Downton Abbey accent. God, this movie.
Margaret can’t resist falling in love with Kevin’s peasant abs. I can’t blame her. He looks like a hot Obama. He has clearly been attracted to Stacy, but repeatedly complains about her intensity and need to stick to plans. (As a Type A woman, I take offence to this. How else do we get sh-t done?) Kevin ends up falling for Margaret’s more spontaneous personality, which is convenient because Olivia has loudly asked Santa for a new mom. Meanwhile Prince Edward is really turned on by Stacy telling him off for assuming she can’t understand how Belgravian politics work (which she doesn’t…?). After playing a game of Twister in a toy store (huehuehue), Stacy is ready to make Edward her royal b-tch. But not before a baking contest and dramatic identity reveal!
There’s a weird subplot with a mysterious old man who keeps running into Stacy and Margaret. He says ominous things like “Fortune favors the Christmas” or whatever and then things magically fall into place. This never really comes up again at the end.
In typical MOW fashion, the costumes are terrible. Margaret looks like a Forever 21 Jackie O. in an ill fitting pink suit and gelled hair. Stacy on the other hand, looks like a 2000s Britney Spears in her fit and flare jeans. There’s something almost high art about how bad MOW costumes are, so I feel like this is kind of an achievement. Also feel free to peruse this Teen Vogue article pointing out all the movie’s mistakes, like Hudgens’s body double being in the goddamn frame.
Netflix seems to be ahead of this rom-com renaissance following their “Summer of Love” selection of originals last June. What Sierra Burgess is a Loser, Alex Strangelove and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before have in common is their diverse characters. Studios are finally figuring out that audiences have an appetite for love stories about people who aren’t just straight, white and thin. I don’t think it’s an accident that millions of subscribers have a renewed interest in what was previously considered a dying genre. Is The Princess Switch a new concept? Of course not. But it’s refreshing to watch an actress of Filipino descent headline a rom-com, even if her British accent sucks.
Header image credit: Netflix