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One Movie Punch

Nov 30, 2018

Hi everyone!

Welcome back to the podcast. This will be the first of two episodes today as we’re working to get caught up from the fire. I’ll be continuing my story from the wildfire evacuation in a minute, but if you haven’t heard the earlier segments, hit pause, then go back to my review for “Outlaw King” (Episode #314) for the first segment, then listen every episode after that for another installment. Let me know you’re listening by sharing this episode with #WelcomeBackOMP.

Last segment, I was sitting in therapy watching a fresh plume of smoke rising in the distance. We finished up, and I headed back out to the car, where my spouse was waiting with the latest fire updates. The flare up wasn’t a threat yet, but our neighborhood was put back on evacuation alert. We drove home, watching the air quality steadily decline, and while our daughter was at school, and while my wife was still recovering, we packed everything up again... and just sat there. In silence. For about twenty minutes. And when that wasn’t helping our anxiety, we decided to do the only sensible thing: find a new television show to start binging, and we picked “Veep”, which would lead us to a new addition later on to our streaming services. I know, it wasn’t movies, but I wasn’t sure we could commit to anything longer than thirty minutes at that point, and even thinking about the podcast caused some anxiety, which was growing as the days passed. I was also coming down with something, perhaps the same respiratory illness as my wife, perhaps just another psychosomatic illness from all the stress. Either way, here we were again. Waiting.

More on the story from the fire tomorrow.

Today’s movie is “The Princess Switch” (2018), the Netflix Original holiday story directed by Michael Rohl and written for the screen by Robin Bernheim and Megan Metzger. The film follows Stacy De Novo (Vanessa Hudgens), who travels to Belgravia and runs into Lady Margaret Delacourt (Vanessa Hudgens), a doppelganger who proposes to switch lives for a time so Lady Belacourt can experience being normal before marrying for the Belgravian crown.

Spoilers ahead.

Confession time. I cried so much watching this film. I even posted to Twitter about it. I found myself fighting the tears, then just letting them go. I do that sometimes. Fight back the tears. Because I know I’m being manipulated by the movie for a film that should, for every other reason, be another holiday film with an overused premise. And it is. It’s the curse of holiday films, when nearly every major studio and quite a few smaller ones are churning them out every year, greenlighting what is going to sell, because each film triggers the generally good memories using standard holiday imagery and themes. Holiday films are people generally at their best, and if not, their most redemptive, and however unrealistic that may be, it’s also something I needed after the last few weeks of stress and anxiety and, outside of the heroic work being done by the firefighters, the lack of our best behavior in most of society. It was making that realization while watching this film that allowed me to let the tears flow, and to just enjoy the movie.

“The Princess Switch” is a life swap film, in the vein of two doppelgangers trading places, watching things become uncomfortable, then go horribly wrong, then ends with a happy ending, because this is a holiday film. Stacy De Novo and Lady Margaret, given their stations in life, get to also engage in a little class consciousness, by which I mean royalty and a downtown Chicago bakery business owner. We see Lady Margaret slumming it and Stacy bringing sensibility to the royalty, and along the way, each falls for the other man in their lives, ending with a baking competition that causes quite a stir. It is so unrealistic and unrelatable, and definitely a fairy tale, with a mysteriously omnipresent kindly man (Robin Soans) who has just the right nudging for all the players to find the true meaning of the holidays. Or whatever. Vanessa Hudgens is great playing both roles, and the supporting cast carries both characters to their happy endings. It’s heartwarming, and saccharine, and effective. 

It does have a few eyesores, though. Belgravia’s square looks too much like a set, complete with the fakest snow I’ve seen in a while. The story is predictable, telegraphing a lot of scenes. The characters, as written, and as expected for a holiday film, border on caricature. It breaks no new ground at all. But it’s not supposed to. It’s supposed to be a heartwarming film for the holidays, and that’s what it is. Which begs the question? What would a realistic holiday film look like for our modern age? I mean, besides “Die Hard”. 

“The Princess Switch” (2018) is a holiday film with an overused premise, but still manages to hit all the right notes. Heartwarming, funny, and charming, even if completely derivative. Holiday film fans will definitely enjoy this film, even if they may notice its flaws, and folks who just need a break from the reality of everything might find it therapeutic. I certainly did.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Metacritic: NR

One Movie Punch: 7.2/10 

“The Princess Switch” (2018) is rated TV-PG and is currently streaming on Netflix.