Ahhhhhhhh, the holiday season. A time for cheer, for giving, for stressing if your online purchases will make it to your mailbox before you have to wrap them and pretend you put a lot of thought into it, but most importantly, a time for terrible movies that we hate-love. Love-hate? Either way, they’re here, and they are relentless.
These moves are bad. Very bad. They’re just so bad. But the thing is, they know what they are. They’re not out here trying to be something they’re not. They know people want cheesy, sappy, saccharine stories with over-the-top uber-sweet endings, and that is exactly what they tirelessly give us.
The Women’s Network. Hallmark. Netflix. THE HOLIDAY CHEER IS UNENDING. So why not just give in to it? Why not put on your adult onesie, take that pre-packaged cookie dough out of the freezer, smother it with some generic chocolate sauce, sit your ass down on the couch and prepare to stay there indefinitely, because this is your life now.
Arguably the most popular of these holiday movies at the moment is The Princess Switch, a Netflix original starring Vanessa Hudgens, who most will recognize from High School Musical, and some will recognize as Joan of Arc from Drunk History (where, yes, I will admit, I fell in love with her). And a few may even be anticipating the live recording of Rent where she’ll play Maureen and win my heart even more (Vanessa Hudgens, stop trying to be my best friend, but like fine, okay, let’s be best friends since you clearly WANT IT SO BAD, ugh).
Anyway. The Princess Switch!
The opening scene gave us alllllllllllll the exposition, and introduced us to the main characters by stating their full names and occupations. “And that’s why Kevin Richards is the best sous chef in the business.”
Joining their adorable little baking team is Kevin’s daughter Olivia (Stacey’s God-daughter, which was also very subtly revealed). She, through the expository magic of childhood cuteness, explained that Kevin had entered Stacey into a baking competition in a made-up country, which was being sponsored by made-up royalty.
But you see, Stacey couldn’t go because she wasn’t over her ex-boyfriend, who had previously broken her heart.
Screw Paul! No one open-mouth kisses their new person in front of their old person unless they’re trying to prove a point. Ugh, get outta there, girl. The best way to get over your ex is to go to a made-up country and meet a made-up Prince. BYE FOREVER PAUL.
At this point it should be noted that there was a mysterious old dude collecting donations who promised Stacey that her Christmas wish would come true, and I just… *sigh*. I mean, what is this guy? An angel? Undercover Santa? And why is he so invested in the romantic lives of a pair of doppelgangers? Ugh, I’m sorry. I just can’t.
They arrived to Madeupovia, and had some frivolous good times after Kevin shamed Stacey for being neurotic. ONLY IN A HOLIDAY MOVIE CAN A MAN CALL A WOMAN NEUROTIC AND NOT FACE WRATH AND DESTRUCTION. Anyway, it was a nice afternoon, and they bought stockings from Mysterious Old Angel Ghost Santa. Yay!
Then it was time to set up for the competition, and to meet Stacey’s rival from baking school.
She’s the worst, but we don’t know why, and we never will. Hate-coffee was spilled on Stacey, which meant she had to go backstage and change. But oops! She ran into someone who looked very familiar!
J/K, J/K, J/K, they didn’t give an eff about how they have a straight-up doppleganger. Identical twin strangers happen all the time! What’s the big deal? Besides, Margaret had more important things to think about, so she told Stacey to give her lifelong friend the slip and meet her at the palace to discuss cake.
This lady was way too into it, and it was glorious. Am I in love with this lady, you guys? I think I might be. Anyway, she’s Mrs. Donatelli, and she’s Margaret’s… nanny? Personal assistant? Servant? Secret Mom? That would explain a lot.
They guessed that Margaret and Stacey were likely very distant cousins, and everyone just nodded and accepted that without any further investigation. My brain was all, “Calm down, Toni, this isn’t sci fi, they’re not clones,” but then my brain was like, “OR ARE THEY?!?!”
Anyway, Margaret explained the premise of the movie to Stacey, and they got to schemin’!
Their lives are so different, they couldn’t even walk like each other! HILARIOUS. They gave each other crash courses on their backstories and did a costume swap, but before they could really delve into anything, look who showed up at their door!
The best thing about this scene was that Stacey 100% acted like a total doof (at one point pretending to have a lazy eye), and Margaret was all, “YOU DID GREAT! A++ GIRL!”
Then Margaret left as Stacey, and Stacey stayed as Margaret, and they both gave each other very dramatically meaningful looks that boiled down to, “get it, girl.”
For real, you guys, this is Mrs. Donatelli’s story, and no one can convince me otherwise. What is this lady’s DEAL?? She’s a spy, right? She had to give up her daughter because the baby would be targeted by her international enemies, and the Duke and Duchess of Madeupgravia were so grateful to her for saving their nation that they adopted her daughter and let her stay on as “their” child’s nanny. Right? I’m so right.
She’s wearing a hat with a nightgown! What a human shenanigan she is! This was the exact moment they fell in love because they’re both weirdos for to-do lists or something.
The next morning she bumbled her way through breakfast with the King and Queen of Madeupovia (“Prithy, tell,” was very funny), when Edward showed up to announce that he’s NOT going away, and wants to spend EVERY WAKING MOMENT of the next two days with his fake bride-to-be. Dun dun dunnnnnnn….
Is it just me, or was the Queen onto her from the get-go?
Since the girls hadn’t come up to any real challenges yet, the King told Edward’s driver Frank to “keep an eye” on Stacey-Margaret, a task which Frank took weirdly seriously.
Meanwhile in Normal Life Land, Margaret-Stacey was not doing very well, and a certain someone was onto her almost immediately.
And so Olivia was in on the scheme, agreeing to lie to her father and aid and abet the impersonation of royalty, which is quite possibly treason. Yay, Christmas!
Edward took Stacey-Margaret horseback riding, then accidentally insinuated that all she’s good for is party planning. Naturally, Stacey-Margaret gave him the what-for and sassed her way back to the palace.
Aaaaaaaaand there it is, the moment Kevin falls in love Margaret. It’s so cute if you forget that he’s actually falling in love with a girl he believes to be his lifelong friend whom he already has an established bond and trust, who seems to him to be shedding her intense neuroticism, which is the one thing that has kept him from falling for her all these years. HAHAHA, CHRISTMAS!
Margaret-Stacey ripped up the agenda and they had a lovely, spontaneous day together, painting snow-globes and bantering, visiting santa, and being told by Ghost Angel Santa that he ships them.
Every holiday movie must have a snowball fight. It is law.
Meanwhile at the palace, Edward was showing off a painting of his feisty late Grandmother to prove how woke he is now. It was actually a pretty great speech, and I didn’t get swoony over a handsome prince with a British accent being feminist, YOU DID (my God what’s happening to me).
Mrs. Donatelli lights up my life. Look at her! This lady is more anxious / happy / excited than any human person has ever been. Girl is just so proud of her secret daughter’s impersonator, you know? As she should be! After the world’s most awkward mistletoe cheek-kiss, Stacey-Margaret grilled the King and Queen about the shelter that the ball is raising money for, because she has a heart of gold, people! A HEART OF GOLD.
I cannot even tell you the excuse the movie gave for this. I ain’t mad.
See?? HEART OF GOLD. She’s reading to poor kids, you guys. POOR KIDS. It was then that they were informed these precious
hostages poor kids won’t get any presents at Christmas, so off they popped to a “toy emporium” (okay, that was funny).
Do we think Margaret’s “parents” died naturally, or did Mrs. Donatelli get tired of raising her child under the thumb of others, so she took them out herself? She’d have the skills and the means to make it look like an accident, after all. Let’s not judge her too harshly. Maybe they were bad parents to her daughter. She had every right. EVERY RIGHT.
Anyway, then the whole team ran into a pickle.
Hilarious hijinks ensued where they faked lost earrings, fainting spells, and Ghost Santa needed a car-push. What fun!
Then we got a cute scene where the prince learned to do a simple task all by himself, and Stacey-Margaret convinced him that deviating from his to-list is okay.
Is this a weird time to point out that Stacey’s whole deal is that she’s not spontaneous or fun in any way, but now she’s the one forcing a prince to play twister in a toy store, and convincing him to have fun? *shhhhhh, brain, shush, now.*
The Queen is a total creepster, and I love it.
Twist! The grumpy king was all, “That girl has spirit, I don’t like it.” But then the queen was like, “don’t be such a poo, darling,” and he was like, “quite right, quite right.” Haha, the cliche of the plucky girl winning over the stuffy royalty happened within thirty seven seconds. Or was this… was this a psych-out? Was the movie SO self-aware that it was all, “ohhhhh you think the King is gonna be a huge dink about this, so we’re gonna make it SEEM like he is, but then BAM, hit ya with a sweet hand kiss!”
You got me, Princess Switch. You got me.
We checked in with Margaret-Stacey after some spaghetti, and I’m so sorry, but I have questions.
HOW MANY PLATES IS THIS MAN WASHING?? Is this from one meal? How many people did they have over?? And if it was just the three of them, how many courses did they have to necessitate this many plates? Is that an accumulation of plates over time? But if so, they’ve only been there two days. Are these the plates of OTHER people? Did the previous tenants leave a bunch of dirty plates? Honestly, this will haunt me.
Margaret-Stacey went to tuck in Olivia, who was all, “YOU stay and be Stacey forever!” and Margaret was all, “but what about OG Stacey?” and Olivia was like, “who?” because Oliva just does not give an eff about OG Stacey when she has a new and improved version who wants to bone her dad.
Speaking of, he confessed his feelings!
Okay, okay, I know he only started digging her when she was Margaret, but you have to admit this shit is weird. OKAY OKAY, I know this is a holiday movie so I should just shut my brain off and go with it, but I’m doing a photo-recap, and my brain is part of the deal, I’M SORRY.
Anyway, they weren’t the only ones smoochin’! The Prince gave Stacey-Margaret his feisty Gramma’s broach, and then said that he now feels cool about their wedding, and Stacey was all, “you will see your Duchess in the morning,” which is not a strange thing to say at all!
Then we saw Stacey’s nemesis cut the cord off her blender, which had zero bearing on the story whatsoever except to show even more how much of a douche she is.
Whoopsie! Frank saw our girls together during their switch back, and he took photos. Look at the pure joy on his face at having discovered their wrongdoing. He looks on the verge of tears. Then he fell off a balcony, because this movie is a comedy. He tried giving the pictures to the King, but the Queen intercepted because she is 100% #TeamStacey.
Margaret was miserable now that she was back into her old life, so Mrs. Donatelli gave her a sweet pep-talk that boiled down to “you do you, babe.”
So Margaret decided to tell Edward the truth, which meant that they had a baking competition to get to! A baking competition that Stacey and Kevin just happened to win (regardless of how pureed her berries were).
All was revealed! Margaret said she loves Kevin, and Edward said he loves Stacey, and everyone was totally cool with the huge lie they told. It was very very very out-of-control sweet. Then Olivia ran in and was all, “kiss her, Daddy!” and Kevin gave Margaret a very intense, sensual kiss in front of his daughter.
Yay for Margaret and Kevin, but this backstage convo was simply too private for a declaration of love for Stacey, so she ran out into the crowded room.
He asked her to marry him a year from now, she said yes, and everyone flipped the hell out.
Usually in sweet, sappy movies like this, the villains get their comeuppance in an oh-so-satisfying and hilarious way. Not in holiday movies! Nope, it’s a holiday movie natural law that the villain will end up teaming up with the heroes and be happy in the end no matter what. Frank… ugh, fine, he can just be the type of guy who loves a mystery, and once it was solved, he could be happy for all involved. But the rival baker???? Wh… what’s going on there? Why is SHE happy? She was straight-up cheating at this competition, and STILL lost! Now her rival is getting smooched by a sexy prince? I know it’s law, but you gotta give me SOME reason she would make a complete personality turnabout. Maybe she was somewhere else in her mind? Maybe her sous chef slipped her some ecstasy, and we won’t be seeing her for a while.
ANYWAY – after they made out in front of a crowd for an awkward amount of time, we jumped one year into future where an epidemic had swept the made-up nation, reanimating corpses who hungered for human flesh. J/K! It was their wedding, and it looked like a lot of fun because everyone was always laughing. Stacey threw the bouquet and Margaret caught it, and oh how sweet, even though we ALL know who SHOULD have caught it.
I would very much appreciate a Mrs. Donatelli-centred sequel, thanks in advance.
And that’s that! What did you guys think? Did you love it? Did it get you in your emotions? Did you think it was bad, but still want more and sort of hate yourself for it? There are no wrong answers! Sometimes we just want a movie that isn’t going to make us think. We want a movie that we know beyond any shadow of a doubt will deliver a happy ending. With the world in the state that it is, we can never have too many happy endings.
So I say go for it. Queue up the next one if that’s going to numb you to the garbage heap that is our current social climate. Press play if you need to be reminded that there is some good in the world, no matter how ridiculous. Or if you just plum love the holidays!
As Mrs. Donatelli would say, you do you.
- So remember how Margaret was doing her duty by marrying Edward so their countries would have an alliance? What, um… what happened with that?
- Did they use up their parent budget on Prince Edward? He got to have two parents (unheard of in holiday-movie-land), which means neither female protagonist got to have any parents at all.
- Just once I’d love to see a Holiday movie where the made-up country has vague Eastern European accents.
- Netflix movie features characters watching other, equally cheesy Netflix movie. Respect, Netflix. Respect.
- Alexa Adeosun held her own as Olivia. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 7 or 8 years she has taken Hollywood by storm.
- This can’t be the first time the line “I’m just a baker from Chicago!” has been uttered in one of these movies.
- If someone edited this movie to only include the parts where someone is laughing/giggling/smiling for no reason, I bet we would still have ¾ of the footage.
- “Do I really sound so Downton Abbey?” There was some legit charm in this movie, I’ll give them that.
- Margaret-Stacey’s constant use of the word “super” might low-key be the funniest part of this movie. This is what the Brits think of us, you guys.
- When I typed “Undercover Santa” in my rant about Angel Santa Ghost, I thought to myself, “there’s no way that’s not already a Christmas movie.” And I was right. It is.
- If you found your own doppelganger, would you have questions?
- I promise watching these movies with me is fun. I only ruin them a little. Just ask my sister!
OKAY BYE HAVE A NICE DAY!