This Christmas season, Netflix has returned to the fictional land of Montenaro with a third entry into the ‘Princess Switch’ saga. The Princess Switch: Romancing the Star has turned this series into a trilogy, and Netflix knew that we really needed it.
When we last left this cinematic universe, Margaret Delacourt of Montenaro (Vanessa Hudgens) had been crowned Queen after her scheming cousin Lady Fiona Pembroke (Vanessa Hudgens) attempted to steal the throne, mistakenly kidnapping Princess Stacy Wyndham of Belgravia (Vanessa Hudgens) in the process. When the first entry begins, Lady Fiona is serving her community service in a convent, to the consternation of the nuns hosting her. When a sacred relic straight from the Vatican on loan to Montenaro is stolen, chaos ensues as the royal switches resume in earnest.
Vanessa Hudgens returns to playing triple duty as all three lead characters and it was absolutely spectacular to watch. Few actors could have pulled this off, but in Hudgens’ expert hands, it was a masterclass. Watching Hudgens seamlessly flowing between all three incredibly distinct characters was a reminder to everyone just what an incredible actor she really is. Hudgens made it look so effortless, and captivated in each scene she was in as one of three elaborate characters.
Hudgens was joined again by the reliable leading men that have been a staple of this movie trilogy to date. Sam Palladio reprised his role as Prince Edward, and Nick Sagar returned to his role as Queen Margaret’s husband Prince Kevin. Their conventional physical attractiveness combined with their unconditional support of their wives, made them both even more lovable if that was even possible. Their chemistry with Hudgens was beautiful, and the only disappointment is that runtime had to be split between them.
The newcomers to this trilogy were Remii Hii as Peter Maxwell, and Will Kemp as Hunter. Both were stellar additions, and Hudgens doubled her opportunity to showcase her entire range. The fact that Hii and Kemp played two sides of the same coin in terms of their character was such a smart storytelling choice. They’re both so perfectly played characters. Particularly with Hii’s character, viewers are kept on their toes, and never sure whether to cheer for or against him until really the very end.
At its core, The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star is a heist movie. It’s a credit to Netflix that they were able to find a new take on this story. Although the plots of these movies get progressively more fantastical, this was a surprisingly street-level and self contained heist. From the background music to the training for the heist itself, this movie included all the best elements of a heist film. The costumes and set design too added them perfectly to this genre, so rarely explored in Christmas movie.
The strength of this movie was in how Fiona, a character who had previously been a caricature, was humanized. In what was another testament to Hudgens’ incredible talent, the audience was able to see this character at her most vulnerable. Especially against her mother Bianca Pembroke (Amanda Donohoe), we see Fiona as a deeply flawed human being who is hurting so much, and is just looking to be loved. It brought the movie down to a more realistic level and gave us new depth to a character fans can now appreciate fully.
The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star could have been so terribly cheesy at so many opportunities. However, it proved itself a worthy addition to Netflix’s Christmas lineup. Fans of the previous two installments will likely find this movie just as, if not more enjoyable than its predecessors. It’s unclear what a fourth ‘Princess Switch’ movie would even look like but to be honest, I for one wouldn’t be mad to find out.
The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star is available to stream on Netflix.