The original cast, director, and screenwriters from Netflix’s surprise hit The Princess Switch have reunited for The Princess Switch: Switched Again to offer fan service for at-home viewers. But even though the production remembers what tickled audiences the first time around, they have failed to capture the same spark in this rusty sequel.
Unlike most fan service sequels, The Princess Switch: Switched Again at least poses a challenge for star/co-producer Vanessa Hudgens (Spring Breakers). In the first film, Hudgens played duel roles: Stacy, a small-time baker from Chicago, and Lady Margaret, the extravagant Duchess of Montenaro. The story was a sweet “country mouse, city mouse” premise we’ve seen before with unfulfilled characters living each other’s lives, but the charm and technical expertise of Hudgens’ brilliant performance(s) gave the film its own legs to stand on.
The challenge for Hudgens this time around involves a third character for her play, Margaret’s bratty cousin Fiona. Unfortunately, this doesn’t bode well for the actor and gives her too much of a workload. The technical nuances in her acting aren’t as ripe as they were before, including instances where Hudgens is searching for her eye-line, and the cards are stacked against her with Fiona’s character, a lame stuck-up stereotype of privileged royalty. Fiona is annoying, enabled by unfunny comic relief sidekicks, and hatches a hackneyed plan to kidnap her cousin. At first, I admired the filmmakers taking an ambitious swing, but my admiration wore off as the choice became more detrimental to the film.
The main plot of The Princess Switch: Switched Again is even lamer than the kidnapping scheme, requiring Stacy and Margaret to swap lives temporarily so that Margaret, who is in line to inherit the throne, can reconnect with her former beau Kevin (Nick Sagar). Compared to the first film, this is such a minor arc and director Mike Rohl doesn’t do anything to evolve this conflict into something more than a tame relationship snafu. It reflects the low energy of this entire movie and, soon, the audience becomes as unenthused as the cast and crew.
These problems made me question how genuine this fan service really was. As each scene rolled into the next, everyone looked more forced and contractually obligated to be there. The Princess Switch: Switched Again is not only a disappointment, it breaks your heart.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie