Christmas films should make you feel warm and festive, but The Princes Switch 3 Romancing the Star made me feel uncomfortable. The third instalment of the Princess Switch films felt like more of a vanity project for Vanessa Hudgens than a Christmas film.
The high school musical star plays three characters again and the film opens with a recap of the prior two – undoubtedly better – films. It follows the Star of Peace, given to Margaret, Duchess of Montenaro, as the star for the top of their Christmas tree. However, the star, a valuable lump of diamonds and gold, is realised to have been stolen.
Stacy and Lady Margaret Delacourt (the original two) decide to break out Margaret’s ‘evil’ cousin Fiona from a nunnery where she’s been serving a sentence for kidnapping and impersonating Stacy in The Princess Switch 2.
The three versions of Hudgens come together to devise a plan – Fiona uses her connections and surprising flexibility to pull off a James Bond-esque heist to steal the star back, before the lights ceremony. Margaret must impersonate Fiona and flirt with Hunter (Will Kemp), the antagonist of the film. While Stacy must also impersonate Fiona at a disciplinary hearing.
Centring around the stolen star of peace, the film becomes an odd sort of heist/spy film more than a Christmas film. That Christmassy tingle feeling creeps in towards the end, but not much else.
Most of the characters have odd variations of English accents. Peter, played by Remi Hii, has an accent that sways from Australian to the queens English throughout the film. However, Hii is head and shoulders above Hudgens with the “British” accent she gives to the ‘evil’ Cousin Fiona. With a constant pout and ridiculous clothing, she very much portrays a caricature of Disney’s Cruella DeVille.
It is almost impossible to like the character Fiona, as in the Princess Switch 2. However, there seems to be more of a relatable redemption arc at the end when she is reunited with her mother and admits her feelings for Peter. This painfully whacks home that Hudgens is good at playing a sad or upset character, and very little else.
Overall, the film mainly suits an audience of about 15 and under, that being said, some 15-year-olds may feel offended by that statement.
Feature image credit: Vulture