I Watched Netflix Christmas Movies Part 2: Princess Switcheroo

I Watched Netflix Christmas Movies Part 2: Princess Switcheroo

My tree is up, my fireplace is glowing, and there’s a cat in my lap, which means … it’s time for Christmas movies!

I would normally have watched a bunch of Christmas movies by now, but life happens, and it's been happening pretty hard this month. It's a combo of changing work schedules, a total rearrangement of all our furniture, and the good problem of having too many people who want to hang out with us. Hard to complain that I haven't watched A Christmas Story yet when I'm busy hanging out with friends and family.

But I knew that there was a Christmas movie trilogy I absolutely had to watch. It was time for me to put my Christmas movie moxie up against the three-headed hydra that is ...

Vanessa Hudgens in The Princess Switch Saga.

I saw The Princess Switch when it came out in 2018, and boy is it silly. In case you're unfamiliar, it stars Vanessa Hudgens as Stacy, a baker from Chicago who has recently broken up with her boyfriend and is super-stressed about things like "running her business" and "making sure she's able to keep a roof over her head." So Type-A, amirite? Her best friend and fellow baker Kevin (Nick Sagar) enters them into a baking competition in Belgravia, a vaguely European country that consists of three places: a fairy-tale castle, a Christmas market, and a warehouse used only for baking once a year. Surely it will reduce Stacy's stress to leave her business at Christmastime to take an impromptu trip to Europe to compete in an international event against her evil red-headed baking nemesis, right?

When they arrive, Stacy quickly meets Lady Margaret, who is engaged to marry the prince of Belgravia but longs for the simple life. She also, like, totally looks exactly like Stacy! Weird, huh? There's some quick discussion about how Margaret's distant relative moved to America at one point, and they're like, "huh, yeah, that explains why we look exactly alike and have precisely the same body and hair everything." Nobody's even like, "hey, maybe we should do a DNA test. Or, you know, Lady Margaret probably has some extensive lineage paperwork since she's a royal and whatever, maybe we could figure out how we're related ..." No. Nobody is curious about this at all. They decide to switch places because Lady Margaret wants to see what life's like for the poors and Stacy has a previously-unstated interest in wearing fancy hats, and they're both like, "no one will even notice!" But of course, everyone notices, including Kevin and the Prince, who are suddenly feeling different about someone they thought they knew. It's a nice statement, really, about how looks may make attraction, but it's personality that makes love. There are hijinks aplenty, lots of longing looks against a variety of festive snowscapes, and a mysterious elfin man who appears whenever the plot needs a little goose. What more could you want?

Well, how about even more Vanessa Hudgens? The Princess Switch 2: Switched Again starts with a montage where Stacy explains that she is now a princess with an international bakery empire, but Margaret and Kevin broke up and Margaret is being forced to take the throne of Montenaro because her father died and her brother abdicated. Sounds like Margaret has been going through some tough stuff, right? Like maybe she might need to work through some issues around her father's death, or have a heart-to-heart with her brother about why he is foisting this legacy on her shoulders? Nah, there's nothing wrong in her life that a flour-fight and some snowman-building can't fix. Kevin has had a major glow-up since the last movie, or maybe it's just that he has a beard and I am generally of the opinion that every man looks better with a beard.

But the real frosting on this movie cookie is ANOTHER VANESSA HUDGENS as Fiona, Margaret's party-girl cousin who has squandered her inheritance on, presumably, an intensely fabulous wardrobe. She and her two friends/servants/henchpersons arrive and proceed to do the most obvious pickpocketing ever committed to film, as Fiona is currently supporting her lifestyle by stealing from rich people at parties. Weirdly, she looks exactly like Margaret and Stacy, which is not something anyone is at all interested in exploring because it's totally normal for three women to be so physically similar that they are literally interchangeable. Anyway, Fiona hatches a plan to kidnap Margaret and become queen in her place so that she can, like, steal some stuff. What she doesn't know is that Margaret and Stacy have switched places again because Margaret needs romantic time with Kevin. Honestly, once Fiona shows up, Margaret and Stacy become pretty much immaterial: Fiona is the Vanessa Hudgens to end all Vanessa Hudgens, the uber-Vanessa Hudgens, the alpha-Vanessa Hudgens. She's got ten pounds of wig and ten inches of high heel, and she's here to take over the movie completely.

Which is exactly what happens in The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star, a title that didn't make sense before I watched the movie and makes even less sense now that I've seen it. Because Beltenaro is stuck in some sort of nightmarish Christmas time-loop, Stacy and Margaret are co-hosting yet another winter festival that will feature the Star of Peace, a priceless relic that comes with its own escort from the Vatican. But, *oh no*, the Star of Peace gets stolen! Whatever are we to do? Well, obviously, release Fiona from community service/convent prison where she's spent the last year and get her to dig up info from her contacts in the Mongravia underground!

Fiona enlists her super-hot ex Peter (Remy Hii), who lives in a straight-up villain lair and has a lot of fun computer toys. And that's when the Princess Switch becomes a jewel heist film, complete with sexy laser-avoidance and slapstick rappelling sequences. And, you guessed it, Margaret and Stacy have some switching to do in order to pull it off, culminating in an all-Fiona switch sequence that should probably make at least one person question if they are lab-grown clones, but no one does. I will say there was a real missed opportunity here for even more switching, and I didn't really need Fiona's tragic backstory to explain why she finds it hard to love. But I am very excited about the future of the PSEU (Princess Switch Extended Universe), since apparently we're branching out into new genres.

In fact, I've got some suggestions for Princess Switch 4:

  • Pitch #1: Margaret, Stacy, and Fiona are celebrating Christmas with their hubbies when, suddenly, the tree begins to shake. It opens and there's another Vanessa Hudgens! She's from another dimension where Christmas is dying, and she needs their switching skills to bring it back.
  • Pitch #2: Kevin has developed a new hot chocolate recipe, but unbeknownst to him Fiona spikes it with a new party drug. Suddenly everyone he sees is Vanessa Hudgens! She plays every role!
  • Pitch #3: Margaret's brother, who abdicated the throne in the second movie, comes back and wants to retake the throne. Vanessa Hudgens plays him in drag.
  • Pitch #4: Margaret, Stacy, and Fiona all get pregnant at the same time. They all have triplets, and all nine babies are played by Vanessa Hudgens.

Hollywood, call me!

What's your favorite dual role movie? Let me know at lily@lilycahill.com!