Mistaken identity comedies rarely get sequels. It’s just too hard to capture the lightning in a bottle magic to make the gimmick work twice. Proving an exception to the rule, The Princess Switch: Switched Again is more than up to the challenge with a second effort that already has me looking forward to to the third installment next year.
Stacy (Vanessa Hudgens) is settling in to married life with Prince Edward (Sam Palladio) even if they’re missing each other between royal responsibilities.
Princess Margaret (Hudgens) is preparing to become the new queen, which effectively wrapped her relationship with Kevin (Nick Sagar) to the chagrin of both Kevin and his daughter, Olivia (Mia Lloyd). Undeterred, Stacy and Olivia whip up a new plan to bring Margaret and Kevin back together in time for her coronation.
There’s a few more obstacles in the way this time namely Margaret’s charming assistant, Antonio (Lachlan Nieboer), who’s decided now is the time to state his desire to be more than friends and Margaret’s money grubbing cousin, Fiona (Hudgens in a third role).
Fiona has a pair of Disney-level goons Mindy (Florence Hall) and Reggie (Ricky Norwood) that in her mischief and provide some fun bumbling physical comedy scenes. Inspired by Stacy and Margaret’s switch a year ago and badly in need of a way to finance her lavish lifestyle, Fiona plots to swap places with Margaret long enough to set up a comfortable nest egg and retire from petty theft.
Predictably, everything goes awry when Stacy and Margaret plot their own switch to give Margaret and Kevin more time to connect.
Screenwriters Robin Bernheim and Megan Metzger fully grasp how to work this concept now and have no problem throwing in a new dynamic with a third swap. Their script has the right amount of Christmas cheer, charm and humor without being overly cheesy.
Let’s be real, part of the fun with this genre is that comfortable level of being ahead of the script and knowing how it will turn out in the end. Bernheim and Metzger make the journey just as much fun.
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Mike Rohl also returns to direct the sequel and he works the camera tricks of having one actress playing three characters on screen at the same time look seamless.
Hudgens’ European accent is impressive and she does more than enough to distinguish her inflections between Margaret and Fiona beyond the obvious physical alterations. It’s not as easy as it might look to play two characters, but Hudgens pulls off three without much trouble.
With Stacy and Edward already married, most of the romantic burden falls on Hudgens and Sagar, whose chemistry definitely holds up. It’s interesting seeing Hudgens convey chemistry with two different actors without one not feeling as authentic from the other.
The set decorations are a major part of the fairy tale tone and they’re magical. Christmas lights are a tremendous visual aid and the full trappings of tinsel, ornaments and CGI snow definitely set the right festive mood.
Fans of Netflix Christmas specials are in for a genuine treat with a surprise cameo that makes perfect sense in the context of the film. If a third switch would be really pushing it, a crossover could make for a fun cap to the trilogy.
Either way, I’m hopeful that even in a pandemic we can visit the gang at the most magical castle on Netflix for another round next holiday season.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Photo Credit: Netflix