How many Vanessa Hudgens is too many Vanessa Hudgens? According to this Christmastime romance on Netflix, the answer is: not enough. Starting from the very first film, A Princess Switch, director Mike Rohl has derived immense pleasure in adding one too many Vanessa Hudgens doppelgangers on the show to make it more complex and exciting. To add to our Yuletide cheer, he brings in the third instalment of the film. However, we are disappointed to see the number of Vanessa Hudgens not going up by a notch since the last film!
Hudgens is seen in three distinct roles: as the calm and graceful Queen Margaret, her crazy and mischievous cousin, Fiona, and the level-headed Princess Stacy. The film revolves around the mysterious disappearance of the coveted Star of Peace, a gift to Queen Margaret from the Vatican. The disappearance of the jewel might lead to a bounty of problems, including a loss of dignity and the ominous foreboding of bad omens.
To retrieve the Star, the Queen and the Princess employ the puckish Fiona, who had kidnapped Stacy and attempted to take over Margaret’s kingdom in the previous instalment. Fiona uses her charms, vast array of connections and impish ways to assist her sister in maintaining the sanctity as a Queen.
Also starring Luke Macfarlane, Michael Urie, Kathy Najimy, Jennifer Coolidge, Philemon Chambers and Jennifer Robertson, the film is a feel-good Christmas film that makes us compare the men with whom Hudgens likely has the best chemistry. While her accent can sometimes be pretty overbearing and forced, she does a spectacular job of managing to keep a distinct divide among her roles. As Fiona, she is sultry and provocative; as Margaret, is she equally poised and demure. Stacy, the worst dressed of them all, is seen trying to rest her husband’s concerns about them switching identities yet again at bay.
The film, as usual, focuses on the idea of love, sin, forgiveness and redemption. Fiona atones for her past actions in a nunnery, doing community service. However, she atones when she assists Margaret in keeping up her reputation and find the Star stolen by a precarious former lover. Fiona, the real star of the story, also manages to forgive her absent mother and deal with the plenty of mommy issues that cloud her ability to love. She finally gets to kiss the ex-Interpol hacker Peter under the mistletoe, thus indicating a happy ending for the trio. However, we are pretty sad that the film missed the chance of introducing a fourth Hudgens — maybe as Fiona’s mother, in glasses and with old-lady makeup, could have had a more significant impact?
In one of the scenes, the police inspector talks about a “piecrust promise”- one that is “easily made, easily broken”. It oddly foreshadows the secular-turned-heavily-Catholic premise of this third instalment. While Hudgens does a pretty good job, the film somehow fails to charm. The iota of mystery in the film is somehow overshadowed by the sheer obnoxiousness of some of the characters, especially when they tend to overact. The gags can be funny, but the delivery misses the timing and overall makes us give off a few bored ‘ha-has’. The ending is silly and sappy- something hopeless romantics might enjoy.
Despite the flaws and follies, it is Hudgens’ unmistakable charm and the overall ushering of the Christmas spirit that made a cynic like me sit through to the very end.