A lot has happened in the lives of Stacy DeNovo and Lady Margaret Delacourt (Vanessa Hudgens and Vanessa Hudgens) in the three years since their first outing in The Princess Switch. The baker from Chicago has married into Belgravian royalty, the duchess has (through abdications and despite another impersonation plot) become Queen of Montenaro, and the scheming cousin Lady Fiona (Vanessa Hudgens) has been reflecting on her sins–or not–while doing mandatory community service at a convent.
This is all covered in a forty-five-second recap at the beginning of The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star, and within the first ten minutes the plot of this incidentally-festive adventure becomes clear. Princess Stacy and Queen Margaret have joined forces to host a lavish, traditional Christmas feast, and the Vatican has loaned them the Star of Peace (perhaps touched by Saint Nicholas himself!) for display. However, the star almost instantly goes missing, and the two royal lookalikes turn to their less-than-repentant cousin for criminal insights and shady connections.
If this all sounds predictable, it is. No one watches the Netflix Christmas Universe for surprises, only comfort and reliability. The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star sees Hudgens at her biggest, boldest, and best. Lady Fiona gets the spotlight here; while she balanced against the two royals in her first outing, she now is decidedly the star (so much so that Stacy, in particular, feels an afterthought, and a surprise every time her American accent comes out). Even while the three Vanessa Hudgens are working together, with no ulterior motives, the opportunity for disguises and double-bluffs come even thicker and faster when working against a master art thief.
Hudgens’ ability to not only play all three characters distinctly but signify when each is impersonating the other, brings to mind Tatiana Maslany’s bravura turn(s) in Orphan Black. She is perhaps more knowing and arch, but she never undersells the outrageous material. This commitment, and her compounding performances, shoot the Princess Switch franchise to the top of Netflix’s holiday offerings.
The hijinks around finding and retrieving the papal artifact evoke Mission Impossible films, bringing a touch of classic big-screen adventure and outrageous gadgetry to the franchise. This foray into new genre territory fits the subterfuge all plots have been based on but brings in new cinematic references. While romance, redemption, and reconciliations hit rote points, it is hard to fault a film that promises easy entertainment and nothing more. Knowing a triple bill is possible this holiday season is enough to make all days merry and bright.
The Princess Switch 3: Romancing The Star is available to stream on Netflix
by Carmen Paddock
Carmen is an American living in Scotland. She holds a Masters in International Film Business from the University of Exeter / London Film School, and while now working in technology she keeps her love of film alive through overenthusiastic writing and an unhealthy amount of time spent at the cinema. Favourite films include West Side Story, 10 Things I Hate About You, Ever After, and Thor: Ragnarok. Follow her on Twitter @CarmenChloie