Review: The Princess Switch 3

I realize I'm a bit behind with this review. After sharing my thoughts on the first Princess Switch movie in 2018, I didn't find it necessary to review every pointless sequel that came after it. This one qualifies as another Netflix surprise for me because The Princess Switch 3 wasn't nearly as terrible as I was expecting it to be, even after watching a hilarious review of it on YouTube. While it is not a classic by any means, it does get some props for originality by diverting from the standard script of two girls who look alike living out a day in each other's lives. The "switch" part doesn't even happen until the third act. Even then, it isn't about these characters getting to know each other better by walking in their shoes since that was already covered in the first film. Instead, it's a weird espionage thriller with a surprisingly heartfelt ending.

The Princess Switch 3 poster

If you missed the second movie (in which case I don't blame you), there are now three Vanessa Hudgens lookalikes living in the same universe. The princess from the first film is now queen, and she has a cousin named Fiona who looks exactly like her but in a tacky blonde wig. While the first two movies were Stacy and Margaret's stories, this one is all about Fiona. Since she is a bit of a troublemaker, it takes the trilogy in a new direction from the squeaky clean stereotypes that we were following in the first two films. This one follows the current trend of princesses forgiving characters who betrayed them in the past and exploring why those characters turned out the way they did. Queen Margaret's heart gold allows her to forgive Fiona for her past transgressions and give her a chance to redeem herself by recovering an ultra-rare Christmas tree topper that was stolen from the palace.

I liked that the romance in this film was somewhat unconventional compared to standard Netflix or Hallmark princess movies. Instead of meeting someone outside of her regular circle, Fiona is reacquainted with her childhood friend, Peter, who she has held feelings for most of her life but is afraid to admit to them because everyone she gets close with eventually abandons her. She and Peter have mad chemistry, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the unexpected twists and turns that their story took before they could ultimately achieve their happy ending. It makes sense that this movie focused on giving Fiona a love interest since the first one ended with Stacy marrying a prince, and the second one saw Queen Margaret finally commit to Stacy's friend, who she was attracted to in the original film. Now that all three royal Vanessa Hudgens characters found their happy endings, does that mean she's going to have a fourth lookalike? Let's hope not...

I was genuinely surprised by how choked up I got at the end of this film. Fiona seems like such a silly character who was only there as sequel bait, but the movie succeeds at fleshing out this former throwaway character and giving her a lot of heart. It demonstrates how children who are separated from their parents struggle to find the right path in life and how family can show them the way back. Don't get me wrong; she still provided tons of comic relief, especially when she Kim Possibles her way through a series of laser traps. That's why the reunion with her family at the end is so unexpectedly emotional. This movie is superior to the other two in the trilogy because its lack of predictability makes the ending more meaningful and earned.

There are many cases where a movie trilogy doesn't find its groove until the third film. Look how much better Cinderella III: A Twist in Time is than Cinderella II: Dreams Come True or how much stronger the plot and soundtrack are in Aladdin and the King of Thieves compared to Return of Jafar. I think The Princess Switch 3 was an unnecessary sequel that still managed to find its direction by taking a comic relief character from The Princess Switch 2 and giving her a soul. Maybe there's something in the water at Netflix right now. They might not know how to start a series of films or episodes, but boy do they know how to end it.


Alysa Salzberg said…
Yesss! I am so glad you reviewed this, and so glad I’m not the only one who thought it was surprisingly entertaining!

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