Netflix had an unexpected hit on its hands with the original Princess Switch, which featured Vanessa Hudgens taking on dual roles as the Duchess of Montenaro Margaret and a baker named Stacy who look just alike. Fans get to return to the world once more in the sequel, fittingly titled "The Princess Switch: Switched Again," only this time, Hudgens takes on a third role in the film, a character named Fiona, who shakes things up quite a bit throughout the film. All of the touchstones from the previous film are accounted for, with moments of humor, heart, and just enough chaos to keep things lively, and while it doesn't quite achieve the same heights as the original, it will still make a lovely addition to your Christmas watch list.
All of the main players are back for the sequel, as, in addition to Hudgens multiple roles, Prince Edward, Kevin, Mrs. Donatelli, Olivia, and more join the holiday festivities once again. There's a comforting familiarity from the very first sequence, and, while some characters lack a bit of complexity and depth, there's genuine chemistry amongst the cast that more often than not hides those blemishes.
In fact, those are the best parts of the film. When director Mike Rohl leans into the evolving relationships of the main four leads, the film is able to capture that same delightful magic from the original. Whether it's simply being out and about in the town, visiting the bakery, or bringing some much needed holiday cheer to Montenero's palace decor, these are the moments that can't help but bring a smile to your face. The fun and cheery vibe onscreen is infectious, and by the film's end, you will likely be left wishing there was simply more of it.
By the way, credit where credit is due, because the film is gorgeous. The team took advantage of its Scotland locale, and especially when things head outdoors, it's easy to be swept away by the stunning surroundings. Moreover, Switched Again sets some key scenes outside most likely for this very reason, and it's hard to argue with the results.
As for the new additions to the cast, Hudgens is clearly having some fun as the newest lookalike Fiona, and she does make for a convincing, if somewhat still likable villain. The best new additions, however, are Fiona's entourage, brought to life by Florence Hall (Mindy) and Ricky Norwood (Reggie). They are the life of the party in just about every scene they're in, and while their scenes involved quite a bit of slapstick, I happen to be a huge fan of slapstick, so that was an easy win for me.
While Fiona adds some new energy to the mix and the means to shake up the characters and their narrative, the addition of her and Antonio (Margaret's right-hand man) are also the biggest reasons the film doesn't hit the highs of the original. Because you have to establish Fiona's personality and motivations, and Antonio's to a lesser extent, that means you have to push the core four and especially Stacy and Kevin to the sidelines. Unfortunately, that removes two of the film's main pillars from the action, and though they have a part to play (including another switching scenario from Stacy), they are still on the periphery of everything happening around Margaret and Fiona, and, in this case, results in a more is less scenario.
When the film narrows its focus to Margaret, Stacy, Kevin, Edward, and Olivia, it shines, and it's like we never left. When Fiona becomes the focus for too long, like much of the second and third acts, Switched Again moves away from its strength. The answer is not to remove Fiona or the other new elements, though, because a sequel needs new people and narrative shakeups to remain interesting, though perhaps a different mix of those elements would've helped make an already delightful recipe that much better.
There's a lot to love about The Princess Switch: Switched Again, and it will check all the right boxes for holiday viewing as you drink some hot chocolate by the fireplace. The warm and fuzzy feeling that we honestly so desperately need right now is here in spades, and the cast has managed to make these characters feel like family. The new additions are welcome, but in this case, they hold back some of what made the previous film so charming. It isn't quite as magical as the original, but you still won't regret giving The Princess Switch: Switched Again your time.0comments
Rating: 3 out of 5
The Princess Switch: Switched Again is available on Netflix now.