The Princess Switch: Switched Again lets Vanessa Hudgens show off her comedic chops in a pleasantly formulaic Christmas flick.
Why is it that every November and December, and apparently October now too (I’m looking at you, Holidate! Let us get past Halloween, damnit!), we collectively allow ourselves to turn off our brains and embrace “Christmas movies”? You know what I mean – each winter viewers just seem a lot more receptive to magic and treacle and nostalgia. I suspect it is because, in some small way, everyone misses the simpler halcyon days of youth when Santa’s reindeer were a source of hope and delight.
The “Christmas movie” genre presents simpler stories of loves destined to be requited or families certain to be reunited. They showcase pleasant little stories of nice things happen to decent people that help capture that ephemeral optimistic naivety of youth. And honestly? There’s nothing wrong with that. We go to the movies to feel emotions, and if a dopey little Hallmark movie delivers a little bit of contentment? That’s a nice thing. Perhaps in 2020 that little burst of joy is more valuable than ever.
This all brings us to The Princess Switch: Switched Again. For reasons I’m not sure I can adequately explain, 2018’s The Princess Switch absolutely delighted me. The Princess Switch’s ridiculous premise sees a Chicago baker and the princess of a fictitious Christmas-devoted country swap places so they can each get a reprieve from the pressures of their own lives and, of course, to find love and discover the true meaning of Christmas. From Vanessa Hudgens’ (Spring Breakers) game performance in both roles, including some hilariously over-the-top accent work, to the winking absurdity of the core premise, my critical mind was stifled and I laughed my way through the film’s pleasantly predictable story beats. Despite the seemingly limited nature of the premise, I found myself genuinely excited for the sequel.
And it did not disappoint! The filmmakers seems to have simply doubled down on the first film’s most pleasing elements and, you know what? That’s what I want in my hokey Christmas movies. Why settle for Hudgens playing two characters when she can play three and add a new absurd and hilarious accent to the mix? The addition of a third Hudgens, now an evil royal cousin of some sort with an even loonier amusingly awful accent, helps enliven the film’s predictable beats. There should be a special award for the set decorators because I’m not sure I’ve seen Christmas decorations as pleasantly over-the-top as showcased here. From royal columns subsumed by countless shiny lights to ballrooms steeped in tinsel and Christmas pines, The Princess Switch: Switched Again presents an almost overwhelming array of visual Christmas time cheer.
The pleasant elements continue throughout the film. Nick Sagar (Queen of the South), who plays the Hudgens Princess’ love interest, brings a ton of charm and charisma to what seems to be a thankless role on the page. The rest of the supporting cast, while not as winning as Sagar, are all pleasantly engaged. There are even cute references to the growing Netflix Christmastime Cinematic Universe. Bring on The Knight Before a Christmas Prince Switch!. Blessedly, the film has a crisp run time and breezy, functional editing.
To be clear, The Princess Swtch: Switched Again is not high art. The plotting is insanely contrived. The writing is heavy-handed and obvious. The performances are arch and very broad. But who cares, it’s a Christmas movie! Cuddled on the couch with your special someone on a cold night with a glass of wine, The Princess Switch: Switched Again makes for a very pleasant holiday experience.
WATCH THE PRINCESS SWITCH: SWITCHED AGAIN:
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