Review: The Princess Switch

Today, Netflix dropped The Princess Switch, a low-budget modern-day knockoff of Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper. Was it just as cheesy and predictable as it looked in the trailer? Well, yes. Does that make it completely unwatchable? Surprisingly, no. It's normal to see a lot of fluffy feel-good family movies out around the holidays, so setting the film during Christmastime and releasing it right at the start of the holiday season may have been just the right touch to prevent it from being a huge disaster. Since we've already seen movies about twins or lookalikes switching places so many times, it's the perfect flick to play if you're busy cleaning or doing your nails or reading articles online and want to have something on in the background.. Trust me, you won't miss anything if you need to run to the microwave and grab your popcorn. No need to pause it.

Thanks to the magic of green screen technology, Vaness Hudgens plays both Stacy De Novo, a baker from Chicago, and Duchess Margaret, the fiancée of a foreign prince. When Stacy gets an invitation to an exclusive baking competition in Belgravia, the home of Prince Edward, she has a run-in with Margaret, who immediately begins scheming to switch places with her to experience life as a "commoner." In her guise as Stacy, Margaret must also fool Stacy's best friend and sous chef, Kevin, and his daughter, Olivia. One is much easier to fool than the other. I won't say which, but I will say that in princess movies, little girls tend to be much smarter than adults. Meanwhile, Stacy gets to live a life of luxury with Margaret's handmaiden, who is in on the secret and does her best to help cover for her. Prince Edward was supposed to be away the whole time, but unfortunately, he decides to cancel his trip to spend more time with who he thinks is his future wife, causing the unlikely pair to grow quite fond of each other.

While the acting and writing are pretty atrocious, the story makes just enough sense to hold your interest assuming you're in the mood for something light. It got pretty amusing watching Vanessa Hudgens attempting to play herself as herself. Stacy and Margaret slip in and out of their fake accents depending on how nervous they are in the scene. It was also interesting how the subtle differences in personality between the two lookalikes made them more appealing to their love interests. For instance, Kevin knew Stacy for many years but never cared for her romantically because he found her too obsessed with planning things, while Margaret is more spontaneous. Meanwhile, Stacy takes a much stronger interest than Margaret in using her royal advantages to reach out and help her community by volunteering at an orphanage, which greatly impresses Prince Edward.

This marks the second Netflix movie I watched this year that contained extremely obvious product placement by showing the characters choosing a movie to watch and then cutting to the actual Netflix browsing screen. In this case, Margaret selects last year's royal Christmas special from Netflix, A Christmas Prince. Could this have been a not-so-subtle reminder to the audience that they are releasing the sequel, A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding at the end of this month? Interestingly enough, it looks like the editors didn't choose the movie until after filming the scene. When Kevin asks Margaret which Christmas movie she wants to watch, she responds "The one with Santa," and he replies, "They all have Santa." Yet, they selected the one Christmas movie on Netflix that doesn't. I suppose I can forgive them for using this as an opportunity to shamelessly promote themselves since Netflix has contributed quite a bit to Princess Month this year.

If you're in the mood for something fluffy and predictable with a recycled Disney Channel plot and a recycled Disney Channel actress, The Princess Switch may be right up your alley. Don't expect anything new to come out of it. It's the same old story we've heard a million times about a princess wanting to experience life outside the castle and a city girl who scores every little girl's fantasy. It's a little difficult to swallow that they both fall in love after only two days, but no more than the fact that they just happen to look exactly the same while being in the same place at the same time. It's your usual Hallmark holiday fluff, but with princesses, so it's better.


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