The onslaught of Netflix Christmas films has finally begun with the release of The Princess Switch: Switched Again, once again starring Vanessa Hudgens in multiple roles. The sequel sees Margaret and Stacy on a new switch-filled adventure, this time involving a third lookalike – Fiona – who has arrived to foil their plans.
The first film was a success for what it set out to be – a cheesy romantic comedy with a silly story that carries some heart. For the most part, this sequel mirrors that approach – delivering a story with some nice heartfelt moments, plenty of cheesy dialogue and enough Christmas spirit to set a good mood whether you enjoy the film or not. In terms of the story, there are a lot more moving parts than the first one, which leads to some elements not working and the whole thing not feeling as tight as before. But having more moving parts does do well to prevent it coming across as a rehash of familiar plot points. Also, some aspects of the Fiona character feel a bit too much on the campy side to where they detract from the overall enjoyment of the film. It’s a matter of contrast with the first film to where that one didn’t really have a villain, so it was mostly positive vibes across the board. Introducing a villain here brings conflict and as a result it’s not all smiles, which is not really a fair criticism, so it’s more of an observation in comparison.
The narrative does stumble at times, as I hinted with the Fiona character, but the charm and Christmas spirt that is present does well to make it still an enjoyable ride. As long as you’re in the mindset that the content is gong to be cheesy and the humour is going to be on the silly side – there is enough to enjoy here. The comedic beats aren’t that memorable as they’re mostly made up of one-liners that get a bit of a chuckle in the moment and are quickly forgotten. Typically that could be seen as a bad thing, however here it doesn’t bother me as it feels like the comedy has been written that way – to get a little light-hearted laugh reaction, lifting the mood and then moving on. It’s pleasant, it’s fun, and that’s all I expected from this story.
There’s no doubting that the main draw of this film is Vanessa Hudgens and the fact that she’s playing three roles… and for good reason. She is fantastic across this entire film in her many roles – the star of the show and an absolute joy to watch across every single scene. The way she plays each character with subtle nuances (beyond the accents) to differentiate all three of them is great. It’s nothing spectacular that’s going to get Oscar nominations but it’s fun, convincing and entertaining – which is all it needs to be. Everything hinges on her performances and the chemistry she shares with the rest of the cast.
Vanessa Hudgens is the key to the whole operation, really bringing the fun and enhancing every moment with a positive attitude, but in this sequel it feels much more like a team effort than ever before. The chemistry established between the main cast in the first film really carries over here, making it really easy to become reinvested in all of their characters and what they’re up to. Sam Palladio and Nick Sagar are both really good in their respective roles, interacting well with their respective versions of Vanessa. Nick does have a lot more to do in the narrative than Sam and has one of the most interesting arcs of the film that is at the forefront for most of it. In hindsight, his arc is the most important and most consistent one through the entire film. It’s present from the beginning through to the very end and is quite engaging. Beyond those lead roles, Mia Lloyd takes over the role of Olivia and shines in her few scenes throughout the film. She adds a touch of charm and light humour to a few scenes, doing a lot with a little.
In the end, The Princess Switch: Switched Again is more or less what it looks like – a solid Christmas-themed romantic comedy with a light-hearted tone, pleasantly cheesy dialogue and a starring role (or roles) for Vanessa Hudgens. Her ability to pull off all three of these characters in successfully convincing fashion elevates the film in every way. It stumbles on some aspects of the story regarding the Fiona character and how she’s integrated, but those quarrels are largely forgettable in the grand scheme of things. It’s fun, enjoyable and a decently good casual watch for anyone wanting to kickstart their Christmas film watching in 2020.