‘The Princess Switch 3’ Recap: Three’s A Crowd

By Sara Levine | November 29, 2021
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Well, well, well, look who it is. It’s me. And Vanessa Hudgens. Playing 3 different versions of Vanessa Hudgens. Yes, people, that’s right. I am back with the recap nobody (except literally my one friend) asked for. At this point, I consider my annual (or however often these movies come out) Princess Switch recap a rite of passage. I will warn you in advance, buckle up for this one. This movie was an aggressive hour and 45 minutes. And also, it’s been so long since Princess Switch 2 that I *may* have forgotten some of the details. We don’t know what we’re in for with this one, but it will be over-the-top and Vanessa’s accents will be bad. I will say, if they add a fourth Vanessa Hudgens to this movie, I swear. I can only suspend my disbelief so much, ya know?

We open with a quick recap (thank god) and a note that Fiona, after impersonating the Duchess and trying to throw the whole country of Montenaro into disarray, only got sentenced to community service, not prison. I’m sure that’s something that won’t come back to haunt the country, right? (Things we say about January 6th.)

This year, Stacey is co-chairing an International Christmas Festival with Margaret. I gotta say, there’s no way that would fly in 2021. A holiday festival, at least?? In any case, the Vatican has loaned them the “Star of Peace”, “a priceless relic that once belonged to St. Nicholas himself,” which is going on top of the big Christmas tree. Surely, there’s no way this star is valuable, and also no way Fiona would find herself at this festival and try to steal the star, right? RIGHT??

Kevin and Margaret are a happy couple once again, although noticeably absent? Kevin’s daughter. They FaceTime her, and is it just me or did this girl age 10 years between movies? I could have sworn she was like, in middle school.

What’s funny to me is that while Stacey and Margaret are planning the acts for the International Christmas Festival (we have to have a yodeler because they “don’t want to offend the Swiss ambassador”), Margaret remarks, “we don’t want to offend anyone.” Oh, is that why you’re having an INTERNATIONAL CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL in the year 2021? Good luck with that!

But the planning is interrupted when we learn there’s “a bit of a situation” involving the police.

That “situation”? You guessed it. The Star of Peace is gone — the guards were drugged and the Star stolen. 

Margaret: Just please promise us you’ll get it back in time for the ceremony.
Chief of Police: I’m afraid that would be a pie crust promise — easily made, easily broken.

Oh, god. So this is the type of dialogue we’re working with. Who on EARTH has ever called something a “pie crust promise”? Also aren’t pie crusts kind of hard to make by hand? All I know is you have to smash a lot of graham crackers and mix it with a looot of butter, or literally make a dough from scratch. This isn’t Great British Bake-Off. Easily made for whomst??

Stacey’s boyf (I am really sorry, I forgot his name. Prince Phillip? That feels right) is like, “no pressure, but when the crown jewels of Belgravia were stolen, my father was nearly deposed. Don’t stress Margaret out! She’s already dealing with enough, thinking police are effective, even when they have clues or leads (of which they currently have none). The thieves apparently managed to smash a whole glass case and not leave ANY forensics, which seems…. literally impossible.

Stacey is like, “you know what this means, right? If the police have no leads, that means it’s up to us to come up with some.”

Stacey: What we need is someone with information the police don’t have

…Right. You should go right to Quantico with those amazing detective skills of yours.

So they’re going to enlist Fiona’s help them solve this crime. They’re going to bust her out of the convent at which she’s currently serving community service. Man, the Montenaro justice department is weird. 

Lol this bitch is working in a convent with a full sequined hat on, red lipstick, and sky-high heels. Why would you want to mop floors in that? Just who, exactly, is she trying to impress??? Gotta stunt on those nuns, I guess.

Vanessa Hudgens as Fiona in The Princess Switch 3, looking pensive while nuns stare in the background in shock

Fiona arrives to the palace with her squad in what I can only describe as one of those headbands with antennae attached to it that you’d use for your 2nd grade Bug’s Life costume. What was the style direction on this girl? All sequined everything, and the more deranged the headpiece, the better. 

I have to believe that Vanessa’s stylist is still trolling her for those early comments she made about covid. Ugh, Fiona’s still calling her cousins “cuzzy”. Here’s how this should be handled:

Parks and Rec right to jail gif

The next morning as Fiona updates the Good Guys on her progress, she’s in this like, brocade minidress. She’s really busting out the Fashion Pass first thing in the a.m. Honestly, respect. There’s a brief, bad joke where Prince Philip misunderstands what “the GOAT” means (he thinks they’re talking about a literal animal), that could have really been left behind in 2019. I’m starting to see why this movie is just shy of two hours. We’re 12 minutes in, and I’m on my second page of notes.

So Princess Fiona gets driven to this castle, where she meets some guy who’s like a cross between a mad scientist and Troy Bolton (because he has a basketball court inside his castle, obviously). His name, which I will forget imminently, is Peter Maxwell. He’s managed to dig up the Interpol case file and finds that the drug used to knock out the guards was purchased at some crack pharmacist’s in Geneva. Our wannabe Penelope Garcia over here manages to track down the pharmacy’s CCTV footage to locate an image of our suspect, who just so happens to work for a billionaire hotel tycoon. Why did a billionaire steal the Star of Christmas? Because he likes collecting shit. 

I’m just spitballing here, but wouldn’t it not be in your best interest as a hotel tycoon to steal shit for a hobby? Cause, ya know, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy any of the perks of being a hotel tycoon from behind bars?

They can’t go to the police because “Hunter has friends everywhere”. The only thing they can do? You guessed it, obviously: steal it back by infiltrating his big party. What kind of Ocean’s Eleven knock-off is this? Everyone notices the chemistry between Peter and Fiona, because they are about as subtle as a whack on the head.

Stacey: That bad boy had a thing for you, huh?
Fiona: We had a bit of a steamy. But he’s not my type.

A. Bit. Of. A. Steamy???? Please somebody find me the screenwriter for this movie. I just want to talk.

Anyway, some important context about Peter: he was accused of diamond theft when working at Interpol, but those charges were dismissed. He’s doing this consulting work for free.

Everyone: Why?
Peter: Let’s just say, I have my reasons

*30 second back-and-forth of Peter and Fiona looking at each other*

Good god, could these filmmakers be any LESS subtle?? Me and my intelligence are insulted.

Anyway, Fiona’s trying to set a honeytrap by running into Hunter while he’s walking his dog, dressed up like a bootleg Cruella DeVille. Unfortunately, the dog chases after a squirrel, pulling Fiona into a bush. Well, that didn’t work. Time for Plan B, which I guess is just showing up at some party he’s at.

Vanessa Hudgens as Fiona in the Princess Switch 3

I will say, this party looks lit. I will also say, the cronies sitting on couches reading newspapers and wearing Bluetooth earpieces DURING A PARTY is not at all subtle. I mean. THAT’s your cover? Being the guy reading at a party?

Hunter spots Fiona and she’s like, “what are you doing here?” Uh, aren’t you at his house? Hunter is smarter than he looks, because he’s like “ok, what’s the real reason you’re here?” Fiona makes up some lie—is it a lie?—about having spent almost all of her inheritance and wanting to turn the Pembroke estate into a hotel. She secures an invite for the party. 

I also have to say that I have like an hour left of this movie and I’m already sick of Vanessa Hudgens’ approximation of a classy British accent. It sounds like how the Watch What Crappens guys do impressions of Karen Huger. Real ones know. I actually might put a candy cane through my eyeballs before this is over. It’s only funny when Ronnie and Ben do it.

Oh so now we’re flashing back to Fiona’s childhood, where her mom can’t be bothered to spend the holidays with her? I’m sorry, is this a villain origin story movie or the fucking Princess Switch?? I don’t want my impeccably dressed yet supremely annoying villain to have any depth, what do you think this is??

Also, idk, “I tried to take over a country because Mummy didn’t pay me enough attention as a kid” is not really the justification Fiona thinks it is.

So back to Baby Fiona, who is like, moping to Baby Peter about how her mom doesn’t love her because she didn’t want to spend Christmas together. Peter is like, “look outside, that’s the North Star. No matter what happens just look up there and I’ll be looking there too.” Does my memory deceive me or did they just rip this out of Love Actually or something? I also definitely got the will-they-won’t-they-they-definitely-will plotline without this extended walk down memory lane. See: the 30-second back-and-forth of them staring into each other’s eyes.

And now we have a scene where these idiots are practicing for their Ocean’s Eleven heist with some fake lasers that they have to limbo through. Fiona is like “watch and learn” and then just proceeds to do a sexy yoga flow through the lasers? Lmao, going to try that at my next heist. Who knew the secret was Downward Dog into Pigeon pose?

Peter is fully turned on, though. This man would not be able to handle a Y7 class.

That night, Peter and Fiona set off into a helicopter while Margaret watches from a window like, “Wow they really are just adorable, aren’t they” Margaret, need I remind you that this girl tried to kidnap you and STEAL your COUNTRY??? And you’re just happy for her that she’s finding love??

Fiona and Peter go to some Christmas market, where Fiona has this zinger that she definitely didn’t plan for hours: “Looks like Santa’s elves smoked a little too much mistletoe.” If someone said that to me IRL I would immediately cut them out of my life. Peter asks Fiona for a dance and her response is, “You’re just determined to smother us in holiday cheese, aren’t you?” Ma’am, the only abundance of cheese is spewing straight out of YOUR mouth. Good god, who wrote this dialogue? 

In another montage that could have been left on the cutting room floor because I don’t have all day, Fiona and Peter dance in the middle of this Christmas market’s ice skating rink to a country song. And they’re about to kiss when she wipes out out of nowhere, and instead of being like, “ouch!” they both laugh hysterically, splayed out on the ice. Sure.

Meanwhile, I don’t like this foreshadowing I feel is happening with Kevin, where he kisses Margaret goodbye before he drives off, promising he’ll be back soon. He will be back soon, though? Right?? Nothing bad is going to happen to Zaddy Kevin, on Christmas no less, RIGHT??? 

Okay, now HERE is how the switch will happen: Reggie was supposed to be in Ocean’s Eleven but got hurt while trying to repel down a building. Classic Reggie. The only person skilled enough to replace him is (remember the yoga moves)? Fiona. Only problem? She’s supposed to be distracting Hunter at his party. So Margaret will pretend to be Fiona and take the role of distracting Hunter at the party.

Prince Philip (I still haven’t learned his name and at this point, I don’t think I will) is vehemently against the plan and Stacy and Margaret are for it. What ensues next is a bootleg Princess Diaries montage where Fiona tries to teach Margaret how to walk and act like her. 

Fiona and Margaret practice tango-ing and Peter walks in and is like, “hold on, the frame is all wrong,” so he cuts in and starts dancing with Fiona. My dude, she is not the one who needs the frame reference. Margaret does. Stop seducing and start helping!

Peter Maxwell and Fiona tangoing in Princess Switch 3

Well, Fiona and Peter get into a fight because, as Peter puts it: “Whenever you start to feel something for someone, you pull away.” Oh blah blah, poor little evil rich girl is too scared to form genuine connections because her mom bailed on Christmas. Play me a sad song on the world’s smallest violin. I’m sorry, if Fiona is the future of this Princess Switch franchise, I will simply not abide! Absent parents or not, are we supposed to care about someone who just so thoroughly sucks? I’m really not even talking about the greed and identity theft, it’s literally everything else about her (except her fashion sense, which is pretty dope). 

Andddd we have a problem: Princess Fiona’s disciplinary review at the monastery (things that totally happen) is randomly pushed up to tonight. Fiona HAS to be there. But she also has to be with Hunter. And navigating the laser field. Good thing we have another spare Fiona! 

Okay so looks like I was wrong and his name is Edward. Whoops! No, I will not be using find + replace to fix any of this.

In any case, our shitty Charlie’s Angels over here have managed to break into the control room and have located the Star of Peace. (I do realize I called it the Star of Christmas elsewhere… again, go with it.) I wonder why they don’t just turn off the lasers if they’re already in this room that has all these servers? Too much logic for this movie, I guess.  

Once inside the library, we run into a snafu: the keypad that was supposed to be there isn’t there, and Hunter is about to come into the library! But he’s too busy berating some champagne girl dressed as a slutty Marie Antoinette to notice. What is the theme of this party?

They find the keypad, because otherwise the movie would end right here. Which it honestly could, this thing is an hour and 45 minutes. But anyway, over in the monastery, Stacy is not killing it as Fiona. Her accent is just… not good. Prince Edward decides to act as her character witness. 

He’s like, “she did kidnap my wife but she has a really good heart” — spoken like every defense for a rich white defendant.

Back at the heist, what do you know, the code to the keypad is Fiona’s birthday.

Fiona: 

you know what? it's not my fault you're like in love with me or something gif

Time for the laser minefield! The moment we’ve been training for, and the Christmas Star or whatever tf we’re calling it is smack dab in the middle of all the lasers.

Back at the party, Margaret is trying to hide her revulsion for Hunter with a duck face (it’s not not working) and as a diversion from having to go upstairs with him, she suggests they tango. While this happens, our two criminal lovebirds are doing a tango of their own between the lasers. And Fiona’s sentence in the monastery gets commuted. Mother Superior cannot hide her excitement. Tbh, I don’t blame her. 

Real Fiona and Peter turn off the lasers and Fiona picks up the star. Just then, the alarm starts blaring. It’s all very:

Abu Cave of Wonders gif

After like five minutes of fucking around and eating, the security guys finally do their jobs and decide to address whatever is setting off the alarm. Hunter realizes something is amiss, and Margaret tries to distract him — with a kiss! Ooooh, you’d better hope Kev isn’t the jealous type.

In the mad dash to get out, the thieves go all “every Fiona for herself” and leave Margaret behind. No honor among thieves, amiright?

Oh, and Peter LITERALLY left his calling card at the scene of the crime. Which I guess he stayed to create a diversion? But if you’re physically there, why leave your business card? Was he using the heist as a branding opp?

They all make it back to the palace, but Fiona doesn’t have the star! Peter switched it out with a basketball at some point. Ok but how did you not notice him carrying a basketball through a heist? Was he just walking around with it under his shirt and you were like, “well, the guy does love Christmas cookies…”

Well it looks like Peter has something up his sleeve that Fiona refuses to tell the others about? She goes to meet him at her old school the next morning before fleeing to Capri with her cronies. She meets him upstairs, and how is the school chill with letting this grown-ass man just hang out there and set up a meeting? Peter’s like, “I just wanted to get your attention. I’ll give you the star, I just need you to pop over to the dining hall.” 

He says, “she wants to talk to you,” so I’m guessing her mother is waiting there. And again, I wonder how the school is like, sure, go ahead use our boarding school for this forced family reunion. I guess they are rich, so that pretty much explains it. 

Damn, Peter tells Fiona that this is the end of the line for them. Nah, this has to be the part in the rom-com where a simple misunderstanding almost causes the two main characters to break up forever. 

Haha, I was right! It is her mom! Am I smart or is this movie extremely predictable? Don’t answer that.

I am the smartest man alive gif

Ok I am Team Fiona on this because the mom is like, “I’ve spent the last decade traveling the world but it wasn’t until I was on a retreat in an Ashram that I realized my life was empty.” This just might be the most realistic rich-people depiction we’ve gotten in this movie so far. 

Oh and it’s all supposed to be ok that this lady abandoned her daughter because Fiona’s father was cruel to her? And because she kept a Christmas card Fiona drew for her as a kid, we’re supposed to forget all this abandonment? Okay, maybe that backstory did work on me, because now I’m soft. Or perhaps these filmmakers do know what they are doing? Much to think about.

Honestly, respect to Fiona for not letting her mom pull this “Oh it’s Christmas, I was a terrible mom but can’t you forgive me after I put in no work to show I’ve changed and just apologized one time?” The Ramona Singer of it all…

Oh what the hell?? Fiona walks outside but then immediately turns around and sobs into her mom’s arms. BOOOOO. 

So Fiona and her mom are staying at the palace for Christmas. Fiona’s like, “is that all right?” And Margaret’s like, “All right? You’re family.” And again I say, are you part where she kidnapped you and tried to steal your royal title??? Over on r/AmITheAsshole people cut off family members for way less. I am just saying. 

The Christmas Festival looks great. Hunter is arrested. Everybody’s happy, blah blah blah. And who should show up, but Peter? Of course. He and Fiona both apologize to each other. IDK why this has to take such a morbid turn: “we don’t know how much time we have left with the people we care about” seems to be the throughline. Like, is somebody gonna die?

Lol for the third time they get cock-blocked on the kiss, because as they start leaning in, the trumpets start sounding for an announcement from Margaret. I never get why people in movies can’t just kiss anyway. Like, people in New York City streets will kiss despite people screaming about the apocalypse, an ambulance driving through them, you name it.

The lights on the tree turn on, the star is a hit. Hooray! We did it!

Ok finally Fiona and Peter get to kiss. Good for them. And that’s the end. Overall, turning a Christmas movie into a bit of a heist movie was an interesting choice. Did I hate it? Jury’s still out. Will I watch another one of these? Only if Fiona isn’t set up to be the protagonist. See you next year, cuzzies!

Mark Mainz/NETFLIX © 2021 (4); Netflix; Giphy (4)

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