By Leah Martindale, Third Year, Film
The Princess Switch is the best bad Christmas movie you will love to hate this winter. With corny one-liners, predictable plot twists at every snowy corner, and a sickly-sweet overarching theme of true love conquering all in a bite-sized two day stint.
Youtube / Netflix
Margaret Delacourt, Duchess of Montenaro (Vanessa Hudgens) and Stacy De Novo (also Vanessa Hudgens) swap lives in a Pulpean ‘Common People’ experiment strewn with stereotypes, clichés, and cheesy John Lennon quotes. Stacy is in Belgravia for a prestigious Christmas baking competition, while Margaret is in town in the lead up to her wedding to Belgravia’s Prince Edward.
If you possess the ability to suspend your disbelief to inhuman levels, you would still find the cringe - which seeps through the film like bed-bugs - too much to bear. A few moments may make you chuckle, a few may even spark a laugh out loud, and I cannot deny my heartstrings were tugged at, but all of this is shrouded in a cloak of total nonsense.
Netflix / The Princess Switch
Suanne Braun as Mrs Donatelli manages to be the most grounded and relatively realistic character in this Dickensian cast of ten. Robin Soans is Kindly Man, the local wise man aspouging pleasantries at every corner relatively unquestioned, and recurring like a bad dream every time the plot’s many holes threaten to swallow it whole.
With nods to the potential older audience, like when Stacy insinuates that her rival Brianna ‘sautéed’ their professor’s ‘berries’, as well as a heaping teaspoon of sweetness for the younger audience, the film could appeal to a wide range of viewers. If only it had been written by a real person, and not, as I assume, a bot programmed with the top ten Christmas movie clichés and an eye for snowy mise-en-scène.
The film is undeniably beautiful, shot in the Romanian countryside with Diagon Alley-esque toy emporiums and timeless Christmas market stalls. Many of the interiors take place in the modern houses the bakers are put up in, versus the gaudy and excessive Belgravian royal castle, creating a visually pleasing if heavy-handed aesthetic throughout.
Netflix / Gabriel Hennessey
Every outdoor scene is scattered with snow - often it is actively snowing during the scenes - and on one occasion is swept away by the neighbourhood, ever-present manifestation of ‘Christmas Spirit’, Kindly Man himself. In case you forgot it was Christmas, every available building column is wrapped in Christmas lights that Betty Lou Who would be proud of.
With Netflix references that range from the subtle motif of the streaming site’s trademark red strewn throughout the decor, to the heavy-handed blow to the face that is Margaret (as Stacy) and Kevin crying to Netflix’s A Christmas Prince (2017) on the widescreen, it is easy to see how this film came to be funded.
Twitter / @ShashaSekharan
I’ve decided to pursue a career post-graduation as a Netflix screenwriter, now that I’ve discovered it’s clearly an easier career path than my current trajectory, as a starving artist. Cheers, Netflix. See you next year with my pitch: People Fall in Love at Christmas Time (Martindale, 2019).
Featured Image: Netflix / Gabriel Hennessey
Will The Princess Switch be added to the pantheon of passable Christmas films in the future? What's your favourite festive flick?