The Princess Switch uses every cliche to build a holiday love story

The Princess Switch uses every cliche to build a holiday love story

When the banner for the movie The Princess Switch flashed across my screen, my eyes were nostalgically drawn to Vanessa Hudgens.

Growing up, movies like High School Musical—that starred Vanessa Hudgens—entranced my youthful mind with the unrealistic high school scenarios and the catchy tunes. I was addicted to “Bop to the Top” and “Get’cha Head in The Game” like they were the air I needed to breathe.

Yet, I grew out of that childhood phase, and I fell in love with Christmas movies.

From The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is undeniably a Christmas movie in every sense of the genre, to Love Actually, I shamelessly binge all holiday-themed movies when October rolls around.

With the recent Netflix addition of The Princess Switch, I’ve found a way to tie in the memories of watching High School Musical with my cousins to my present day.

Having a basic premise about swapping lives, one that’s been unoriginally used countless time before, my expectations were low when I decisively pressed play. Jumping into the one hour and forty-one-minute movie, I prepared myself for whatever was about to speed across the screen.

Within the first helpful handful of scenes, I was exposed to the setting: Stacy De Novo, played by Vanessa Hudgens, owns a bakery and works with her longtime friend Kevin, played by Nick Sagar. Together, they are a baking force to be reckoned with.

Kevin applied to a royal baking competition for a cake in the country of Belgravia behind Stacy’s back in order to help her move on from her breakup during their holiday season. Playing on a cliche, Stacy refuses to attend when she finds out, but a mysteriously appearing character—who I believe is the attempt at the embodiment of Christmas—persuades her to go and seize her dreams.

Out of the blue, the movie switches from the setting in America to the streets of Belgravia, and it is one of my biggest gripes with the movie. Holes in the plot littered the movie. Fragmented scenes scantily switched from one to another with no sense of flow; however, now in Belgravia, the real drama starts to stir up.

While preparing for the baking competition, Stacy runs to the bathroom but subsequently runs right into Lady Margaret, a Duchess soon to marry the Prince of Belgravia. Upon impact, Lady Margaret and Stacy realize they’re practically identical and immediately become flustered. Here is where my third problem arises. There is yet another cliche—having two identical people— and this one doesn’t even make sense. How did no civilian on the streets where they were just shopping moments ago call out Stacy for looking identical to the Duchess?

This issue stands out but is coated in sugar by the excellent acting of Vanessa Hudgens. Both characters are played intensely well; her skills almost save the movie’s plot. Her ability to switch between the two roles that are vastly different displays her talent. The performance from the actors is the only topic I can’t complain about.

Carrying on with the plot, Lady Margaret and Stacy decide to switch lives for two days while playing on yet another cliche. This third cliche—the inventive and definitely never-used-before idea of a life swap—adds to the growing tower of unoriginality that seeps out from every action or new scene in The Princess Switch. Lady Margaret has always wanted to be “normal,” and she uses Stacy as a placeholder which screams “She’s using you!” to me.

Continuing on with the countless cliches, the movie progresses through the strenuous and hectic two days where everything goes wrong but right at the same time, and as the biography of the movie would suggest, new relationships bud out of the crafted chaos. Without spoiling too much, the Christmas love from these relationship combined with the quintessential acting almost saves the movie.

It almost saves all the plot holes and the abuse of cliches, but it doesn’t override them.

While enjoyable due to my dedicated devotion to the Christmas season and my belief in holiday magic, my second watch was not as splendid as my first. With careful examination, or maybe I was just finally not doing math homework while watching it, errors and over dramatizations became apparent.

The Princess Switch pacified my appetite for a new Christmas movie, but it was not even as enjoyable as a microwave meal. If it weren’t for Vanessa Hudgens bringing my childhood back to life, I don’t think I would’ve kept rewatching it.