The Princess Switch is Netflix’s newest take on a Christmas classic--equal parts Hallmark movie, Parent Trap, Great British Baking Show, and High School Musical (not really, it’s just Vanessa Hudgens). *Warning, this article is made up entirely by spoilers.
The story is simple: Detail-oriented Chicago baker, Stacy Denovo, and her Sous Chef/Best friend Kevin participate in a royal baking show in made-up Belgravia. When they are setting up for the competition, Stacy runs right into her look-alike--the spontaneous and free spirited but royally obligated Duchess Margaret Delacourt, who is to marry the Prince of Montenaro. Margaret wants to know what being normal is like, Stacy wants her goddaughter to get a spot in the ballet academy summer program. Thus, they switch places, consequently fall in love with each other’s would-be pairs, and everyone ends up happy in the end.
As much as this is a predictable plot line, I grinned the entire way through the movie, both times I’ve seen it (this week). There’s a lot to love. The movie hits all of the tropes one wants from a Christmas special, while still touching on some important topics that would have never made it into a warm-fuzzy before.
Tropes include (this is a pick three type of list, you’ll get the idea)
The Magical Old Man, Christmas Trees in Every Scene, Hot Best Friend (Who Stacy’s Not Into), Bad Baking Insults (Something along the lines of, “Remember when you sauced Professors’ berries”), Big Transformation (Practicing walking, talking, and curtsying), Impeccable Outfits (4 in one day, great shoes), Bad Excuses that Work (“In Montenaro the stables are heated” “Oh, I have a lazy eye, sometimes” “It’s custom to wear a hat to tea, no matter what”), Bad Accent Mimicry, Tiaras, Horses, Romantic Snowball Fights, Kissing Under the Mistletoe, Playing the Piano (“Carol of the Bells”, together), Christmas Ball, Orphanage, Saving Christmas (for the orphanage), Toy Shopping (for the orphanage), Mistletoe Again, Crying Over Other Christmas Movies (The Christmas Prince), Clueless Best Friend, Everyone Ends Happy!
That’s a lot to pack into one movie, and yet they hit even more topics. The Princess Switch dips its toe into everything, from a woman's place in a marriage and politics to giving little black ballerinas a chance.
The topics showcase the gaps between where movies like this came from and where they’re heading. Christmas movies weren’t supposed to be meaningful, they were warm and fuzzy, and didn’t matter--they were “women’s movies”--they didn’t need to be much more than a happy ending. But now we’re seeing that we can have both. We’re allowed to love the mistletoe and the strong, opinionated, businesswoman main character, all at the same time.
The Princess Switch shows us that we don’t have to give up our happy endings for the sake of being current, and that is what makes it so very right. It’s what has me grinning from ear to ear for 101 minutes straight.
So go, drink your hot cocoa, tweet about #BlackLivesMatter, and let the movie carry you through the holidays.