Sunday, 26 December 2021

Netflix And Chill: The Princess Switch 3: Romancing The Star (2021)

The third Princess Switch movie allows Vanessa Hudgens to once again take on multiple roles as her characters become embroiled in yet another scheme. She plays Stacy, Lady Margaret, and the scheming Fiona Pembroke, and everyone starts to swap identities this time around in order to try and retrieve a valuable item, the Star Of Peace, that has been stolen while in the care of the royal household. Stacy and Lady Margaret do their best to figure out who the culprit could be, but they soon realise that the person best-suited to help them is the person being punished for their criminal scheming in the last adventure, Fiona Pembroke.

Robin Bernheim is back on the writing duties, this time flying solo, and Mike Rohl is back to direct for a film that feels very much like an easy reunion for everyone involved. Every cast member slips into their role(s) with ease and it's as if there's a fine layer over the material that shows a printed statement of intent. You want predictable, comforting, silly, snow-dusted, entertainment? Here you go.

A return to form for the series/trilogy, this third Christmas identity-swap adventure benefits from the way it increases the silliness in just the right ways. Having all of the main characters played by Hudgens having to work together, and at various times impersonate one another, allows for much more fun than the premise that pushed them all together the first time around. It also helps that you have more comic relief from Florence Hall and Ricky Norwood, as Mindy and Reggie, the assistants to Fiona. And there's a very good cameo role for Amanda Donohoe, giving her a role that she seems perfect for.

Nick Sagar and Sam Palladio also return, playing Prince Kevin and Prince Edward, and Sagar is still the more enjoyable male, mainly because he still doesn't have to play things as reserved and mannered as Palladio, and newcomers include Remy Hii, playing Peter Maxwell (ex-boyfriend of Fiona and a security expert who may be able to help with the case), and Will Kemp, playing Hunter Cunard, who is almost definitely maybe probably the actual thief.

But all of this talk of who is behind the camera, and who else does good work in front of the camera, is just preamble to me, once again, singing the praises of Hudgens. Perhaps one day she will receive a bit more of the praise that she deserves for a variety of performances that have been brilliant since the first movie, but have also improved slightly with each instalment. Hudgens may wobble at times with the accents, but she's often playing someone who is playing someone else, so the wobbly accent is excusable in those instances, even if it wasn't intended. Here's the thing though, I think it IS often intended, and I think Hudgens is always doing a great job. She's also brilliantly versatile in her way of moving from the more dramatic scenes to the comedy, with the character of Fiona Pembroke allowing her to be entertainingly cocky and outrageous.

I know that few people like these movies as much as I do (despite my disappointment in the second film, I'd still choose these over so many others), and I know that they're not milestones of cinema, but I'll happily recommend them to people who want some easygoing seasonal fare, who don't mind Hudgens in a central role, and who would prefer something that pushes some potential romantic developments to the side in favour of comedy montages and silly set-pieces.


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