THE PRINCESS SWITCH (2018)
One Christmas, Stacy DeNovo (Vanessa Hudgens), a rising pastry baker from Chicago, was invited to join a prestigious Christmas-themed baking competition held in a small European kingdom called Belgravia. She was accompanied there by her best friend and assistant chef Kevin Richards (Nick Sagar) and his spirited little daughter Olivia (Alexa Adeosun).
Lady Margaret Delacourt (also Vanessa Hudgens) was the duchess of neighboring kingdom of Montenaro who was engaged to marry Edward (Sam Palladio), crown prince of Belgravia. When Stacy and Margaret met at the venue and noted that they looked exactly alike, Lady Margaret suggested they switch identities for the next two days in order for her to get a taste of normal life before she settled down with the prince.
Ever since Mark Twain's "The Prince and the Pauper," the idea of twins or people who looked identical to each other switching places had been a familiar trope in films. Most of the time, this situation would give rise to a funny comedy of errors brought about by the efforts of each twin not to give him or herself away during their masquerade as the other twin.
Being a rom-com, this one added a further twist by having each twin switch romantic interests as well in the course of two eventful days. This turned out to be a lot of fun because Hudgens did have good chemistry with both Palladio and Sagar as she was juggling her look and accents. The whole premise was, of course, quite absurd, but everyone was so likable, the Christmas spirit was solid strong, and it had some very nice heartwarming moments.
THE PRINCESS SWITCH: SWITCHED AGAIN (2020)
Following the events of the first film, Stacy was now the Princess of Belgravia after her marriage to Edward. Margaret and Kevin had broken up because of the pressure brought on by her duties in her country. That Christmas Day, Margaret was scheduled to be crowned the next queen of Montenaro following the death of her father. Stacy made a special trip to Chicago to convince the reluctant Kevin to go attend the ceremonies.
When they all got together in Montenaro, Stacy suggested to Margaret that they switch places again so that Margaret can have private time to reconnect with Kevin. However, Margaret's shady cash-strapped cousin Lady Fiona (again Vanessa Hudgens in a third role) came up with a treacherous plot to switch herself with Margaret in order to get herself crowned as Queen, so that she transfer national funds into her bank account.
The whole main cast is back from the first film is back in this sequel, including Margaret's staff Frank (Mark Fleischmann) and Mrs. Donatelli (Suanne Braun). Kevin's daughter Olivia is now played by Mia Lloyd, who was less charming than the original child actress. The handsome chief of staff Antonio Rossi (Lachlan Nieboer) was there to serve as Kevin's competition for Margaret's love. As with most comedy villains, Lady Fiona had two bumbling henchmen, Reggie (Ricky Norwood) and Mindy (Florence Hall), willing partners in her criminal plans.
Here, I thought it was very reckless and unacceptable that Stacy and Margaret had to keep their switching a secret from Edward, and even used Olivia be the accomplice to keep him occupied. Later there will be a scene when Margaret (posing as Stacy) would share a kiss with Kevin, as if it was acceptable to see Stacy and Kevin kissing -- a very illogical story decision. The third switch with Fiona was a fun way to complicate the story, though I wished her subplot was not so criminal, especially since this is for young viewers.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."