As Christmas approaches, countless people are finding themselves drawn to cozy, happy, lighthearted Christmas stories through movies and books. In recent years, the niche genre of the fluffy Christmas romcom has taken over, particularly on streaming services like Netflix–and the royal element of this genre has completely dominated the category! After the success of A Christmas Prince (2016) and its sequels, it’s no surprise that Netflix decided to double down on the Christmas theme with some more royal Christmas fluff.
The first movie to take up the reins after the Christmas Prince series was The Princess Switch, which stars Disney veteran Vanessa Hudgens and premiered in 2018. The movie has been mocked for some of its more corny elements, much like other Christmas romantic comedies have been, but it’s also become a cult favorite and has been added to many people’s must-see for future holidays! Two sequels have been released so far: Princess Switch: Switched Again premiered in 2019, and Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star just premiered in 2021! But before you dive into the most recent movie, take a step back and see if these movies are really worth your time.
The first movie in the series, which is simply called The Princess Switch (2018), follows Chicago baker Stacy DeNovo and Montenaro duchess Lady Margaret Delacourt, who are both played by Vanessa Hudgens. In the movie, Stacy DeNovo is quietly carving out a successful career as a baker and recovering from a breakup, while Lady Margaret is dreading an upcoming arranged marriage to Prince Edward of Belgravia (played by Sam Palladio). When Stacy’s longtime friend Kevin (played by Nick Sagar) and his daughter Olivia (played by Alexa Adeosun) sign Stacy up to compete on a Belgravian baking show, she reluctantly travels to the wintry European countryside–and soon runs into Lady Margaret, who immediately notices their uncanny resemblance.
The girls soon glean from Margaret’s family history that they must be related, and Margaret convinces Stacy to switch places with her for a few days in order to experience normal life before her royal wedding. Light-hearted antics and family-friendly laughs ensue as each girl tries to fit in with her disguise…but when Stacy begins falling in love with Prince Edward (Lady Margaret’s fiance) and Lady Margaret grows closer to Kevin, things get complicated!
As with most Christmas movies, The Princess Switch has a few very obvious tropes. The cutesy but sassy child who keeps pushing a couple together, the mysterious elder who constantly shows up to dole out vague words of advice, and the scenic winter excursions (including the usual snowball fight, carriage ride, and hot chocolate) all serve their usual purposes in the storyline. There are also glamorous Christmas decorations, gorgeous ballgowns, and superficial but well-intentioned scenes about charity work.
If you know what you’re getting into with The Princess Switch, then you won’t mind seeing the usual Christmas movie cliches, and overall this movie is surprisingly well-done. The script, storyline, and character development actually provide enough depth to make viewers really feel for the characters, and Vanessa Hudgens excels in her roles. If you want a Christmas romcom that’s actually much better than a lot of its competitors, give this movie a try–then get ready to follow it up with the next two movies (there’s also a new Christmas movie starring Brooke Shields called A Castle for Christmas (2021), which features a Scottish Cary Elwes, a gorgeous tartan ballgown, and all the medieval Scotland charm that you could want)!