Plot: Stacy (Vanessa Hudgens) is a skilled baker who has thrown herself into her work after a bad breakup, one she doesn’t seem to be getting over, despite her friends telling her to get back out there. When her friend and colleague Kevin (Nick Sagar) reveals that he signed her up for a prestigious royal baking competition, even then she shrinks from the opportunity. But when she bumps into her ex…and his new fiance, Stacy decides the time to move on has arrived. She accepts the competition invite and travels to distant Belgravia, home to both the international baking showdown and soon, a royal wedding that has the nation abuzz. She is surprised to be summoned to consult with Lady Margaret, who is about to wed the Belgravian Prince, but she is even more surprised to learn she is a doppelganger of the bride to be. Which is why Margaret has asked her to visit, as she wants to switch places to experience a normal life, even if just for a little while before she takes her vows. But despite being mirror images of each other, can they pull off a swap and if so, how will Stacy and Margaret handle spending some time in each other’s lives?
Entertainment Value: This romantic holiday comedy from Netflix evokes the Hallmark or Lifestyle Christmas movie style, very light and brisk in tone, predictable, but also cute and fun to watch. If you appreciate this kind of holiday fluff, you’ll likely have a good time with The Princess Switch, but if not, this is not one that is going to win you over to the genre. In other words, this movie does just what you’d expect and in truth, you can probably tell from the poster and synopsis if you’ll like it, as it doesn’t veer from the usual formula. The narrative is of course ridiculous, but this kind of swap story is a popular premise and at least The Princess Switch throws in a meta touch or two, which is welcome. You can tell what will happen from the jump, but the execution is capable and the production values are rock solid, easily a few steps up from what you’d normally find in a similar Hallmark picture. I also appreciate that The Princess Switch knows what it is and aims to please that build in audience, but makes that effort to be a little more polished, which helps it stand out. This one isn’t deep or cerebral, but for fans of holiday romance flicks, it is worth a look.
The slick production values help The Princess Switch a lot, but the main reason it works better than most of its peers is Vanessa Hudgens, who embraces the brisk, comedic tone and is immense fun to watch. She plays the role with just enough silliness to earn laughs, but is still able to make the light drama work, plus she just has the raw charisma to carry even the weakest stretches of material. A skilled lead can elevate even mediocre movies and Hudgens is able to get a lot more mileage from this material than most, this is a turn with a lot of charm. She is likable and handles the switched roles well, though of course an accent and hairstyle can only do so much. But for this kind of comic take on the story, she is more than capable. Nick Sagar is passable in the role as the guy friend, but his six pack is what had the internet buzzing after the movie debuted. The cast also includes Sam Palladio, Sara Stewart, and Amy Griffiths.