The Princess Switch
While explaining this movie to my son, I informed him that in the effort to provide some diversity in these movies, the heroine usually has a best friend who is a Person of Color, though in this movie Vanessa Hudgens is POC-ish, so they might've been able to get away without giving her a POC bestie if they so chose. I also pointed out that her bestie was also a dude. He asked, 'was he a sassy gay dude?' Silly boy, if it this wasn't a 'switheroo' movie, then chances are he would've been a 'sassy gay dude', but in an identity switch movie it is fairly critical that said best friend be a virile straight male, so that when that the time comes, both look-alikes can get a man. Are these movies about the Joy of Christmas, giving and receiving, Santa Claus and the birth of Christ? Of course not! They are about getting a man! Or if you already have a man, getting a better man! Because your current man is ass!
Alrightythen! Stacy De Novo (Vanessa Hudgens) is your average, super organized smoking hot Chicago baker with a super hot bestie in Kevin (Nick Sagar), who happens to be the father of the most adorable 10 year old ever in Olivia (Alexa Odeosun). Due to the break up with her boyfriend a year ago, the reserved Stacy has become even more reserved, forcing Kevin's hand. Every year the fake-ass country of Belgravia hosts this world famous bake-off, and Kevin has entered their bakery into this contest and has been accepted. Stacy didn't want to go, but this is where we meet Old Magical Dude (Robin Soans) who pops in and out of this movie, getting all in our characters business, and guiding them out messes that the screenwriters couldn't find any other logical way to get them out of.
So it's off to Belgravia, and while our baking team is in snowy, Chistmassy Belgravia, Stacy accidentally bumps into Margaret DeLacourt, the Duchess of Montenero who, amazingly, looks exactly like her! Why do these two women, who live on opposite sides of the planet, look exactly alike down to their cup sizes is nothing we are going get into, just know that the Duchess, who is slated to marry the fetchingly handsome Belgravian Prince Edward (Sam Palladio) in a couple days, would like to experience life as a normal person for these two days before casting her life away, and through Stacy, this could happen. Stacy agrees, the switch is on, and now mayhem and hi-jinks ensues en masse.
Does Stacy know how to curtsy properly, ride a stallion or play classical piano at a royal gathering? Of course not, but Prince Edward is always there to help, just as she is there to help Edward be more like a real human person. Does Margaret know how toast a piece of bread, puree strawberries or perform the secret handshake with Olivia? No, she does not, but she is impulsive in a way that has caught Kevin's attention like never before, and for his part Kevin is walking around shirtless which is doing all kinds of funny things to Margaret. And every step of the way the Old Magical Dude is obtrusively interfering. We know eventually the gig will be up, but we also know that love will survive, the Prince will love the Chicago Baker, the Duchess will love the Chicago Sous Chef, and all will be well.
So we've taken Netflix off of the self-imposed suspension I put them on due to the horror that was The Christmas Wedding Planner, but now with A Princess Switch, things are back to normal with Netflix effectively copying the Hallmark template. We have snow, Christmas Trees, Christmas Decorations, young ballerina's dancing to the nutcracker, a cute kid, a wise old dude, Christmas Carols, lots of baking obviously, lots of beautiful people and Orphan Kids. Gotta have Orphan Kids. One could ask why there are so many orphan kids in Belgravia and Aldovia and Montenero and San Senova and all these otherwise wonderful fake countries, maybe PBS Frontline should do an expose on this, but until then we will just ignore the dead and missing parents and enjoy some Orphan Kids.
The narrative? Well... whatever. The Parent Trap meets every Hallmark Holiday movie ever made. That's what you get. Vanessa Hudgens is lovely and handles the dual roles well enough, despite a somewhat suspect British accent. To which I guess you could argue it's NOT a British accent but a Monteneran accent. Sure, why not. The story spent way more time with our fake princess and her romance with the prince, than they did with the real princess and her romance with the super fit sous chef. In fact, Margaret's infatuation with Kevin seemed more... primal. If I were Kevin I wouldn't get too terribly attached to Margaret because once she gets all that out of her system I fear it's back to riding horses and playing classical piano. And maybe even challenging Stacy for her rightful place on the throne. That's what I see for a sequel.... 'Margaret's Revenge!'
Anyway, 'The Princess Switch' sees Netflix at least being competitive in the Hallmark Game, with a completely vomit worthy vehicle. Maybe not on equal footing with the best Hallmark has to offer, but easily among the best that Netflix has to offer. Side note, Margaret, as Stacy, watches Stacy's favorite Christmas movie which, surprise, is Netflix's own 'A Christmas Prince'. She was crying when it ended. I don't recall that movie being a tear-jerker, at least in the classic sense. Unless Margaret was crying FOR Stacy, because what a crap life she must live for THAT movie, in the history of Christmas movies, to be her favorite one. Because in that case, we must all weep for Stacy.