I might have found my new Christmas movie obsession in The Princess Switch.
Basically an update of The Parent Trap with a Christmas theme, this is a charming, sweet and funny Netflix original.
This time it’s Vanessa Hudgens (Spring Breakers) pulling double duty as Chicago baker Stacy De Novo and Lady Margaret, the princess of a small nation.
Both are in Belgravia at Christmastime for wildly different reasons. Stacy reluctantly agreed to go with her business partner Kevin (Nick Sagar) and daughter Olivia (Alexa Adeosun) for a baking contest.
Margaret is days away from marrying Belgravian Prince Edward (Sam Palladio), but isn’t sure if that’s the future she truly envisions.
When she spots Stacy, Margaret sees her chance to explore a new life if just for a few days. With the help of Margaret’s aide Mrs. Donatelli (Suanne Braun), Stacy assumes the role of royalty while Margaret perfects her swagger hanging with Kevin and Olivia.
The success of the film lives and breathes with Hudgens. Played improperly, the illusion of two characters would crash and burn. Hudgens is very convincing especially in scenes when she’s switching between both characters.
It’s the little details like how Hudgens exaggerates Margaret’s attempts to be loose and cool or Stacy making the effort to walk straight and curtsy. She’s a lot of fun here and seems like a great fit for these small scale Netflix romantic comedies.
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At this point technology is at a level where it doesn’t look so obvious Hudgens is playing both characters. It’ll be interesting when it reaches the point where one actor can be on multiple levels on the same shot as opposed to being on either side of the screen.
Maybe even more impressive is how Hudgens creates believable chemistry with both Palladio and Sagar. Some performers can’t manage to sell genuine interest with one co-star let alone two.
As The Christmas Prince showed last year, Christmas and castles are a winning combination. The set designs were stunning with gorgeous decorations strewn throughout hallways and big open space rooms. Luminita Lungu’s costume work was also beautiful with some stylish attires sure to be copied by fans.
Robin Bernheim Burger and Megan Metzger’s script hits the right notes without being too corny. The characters are written from a more likable perspective and even the antagonistic characters like Edward’s attendant Frank (Mark Fleischmann) and Stacy’s baking rival (Amy Griffiths) are largely harmless. More of the fun is Stacy and Margaret’s near misses in getting found out.
Director Mike Rohl keeps the film moving at a nice pace without bogging down on anything too goofy. There’s some physical comedy moments, but Rohl doesn’t overdo them to the point that they become a comedic crutch. Rohl does a nice job developing the romance without being too sappy.
The Princess Switch is exactly what the hopeless romantic ordered for their Christmas viewing this season. This is likely one that will be in heavy rotation through December.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Photo Credit: Netflix