A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Princess Switch is a feel-good Christmas-themed movie starring Vanessa Hudgens that parents and tweens will enjoy watching together. This one will be familiar to anyone who's seen a version of The Prince and the Pauper, in which a prince swaps places with an identical-looking commoner, and/or Roman Holiday, in which a princess plays hooky from her royal duties to enjoy a few days as a regular girl. Iffy content is minimal: A couple kisses under the mistletoe, a man falls off a balcony into the soft snow below, and a nasty rival deliberately spills coffee on a main character and cuts the cord on her electric mixer. Themes focus on the importance of helping others and on Christmas being more than just a gesture.
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What's the story?
In THE PRINCESS SWITCH, Chicago baker Stacey (Vanessa Hudgens) is recovering from her breakup with the wrong guy and creating cookies and cakes with old high school friend Kevin (Nick Sagar) and his daughter, Olivia (Alexa Adeosun), as Christmas approaches. Kevin secretly enters Stacey in a baking contest, but she says no when she's invited to compete, because she's too rigid to consider the sudden change in plans. But a jarring run-in with her ex propels her to shake things up, so she grabs Kevin and Olivia and heads for competition headquarters in Belgravia. Almost immediately, she runs into her exact double, Margaret (also Vanessa Hudgens), the duchess about to marry Belgravia's Prince Edward (Sam Palladio). The duchess seizes on the resemblance as an opportunity for her to live a few days as a normal girl before settling down with the prince. She doesn't care that she has to wear T-shirts, affect an American accent, or hang out with complete strangers Kevin and Olivia. Stacey figures a few days at the palace will be fun and agrees to don the formal garb, learn finishing school posture, and put on a do-it-yourself British accent, having been assured that the prince will be out of town during the switch. Well-laid plans are upended when the prince ditches his trip to spend time with his princess-to-be (actually Stacey). The two fall in love, which is exactly what happens between Margaret and Kevin as she embraces commoner living. All is revealed when Margaret arrives at the bake-off to award prizes and comes face-to-face with her double in front of all.
Is it any good?
The Princess Switch is frothy fun for families looking for escapist holiday fare. It's harmless entertainment in the mold of a Hallmark Channel movie. Its theme could be printed inside a greeting card: One's title is far less important than who one is. Its other similarly simplistic message is that people spark romantically to different qualities and characteristics. Stacey's executive personality feels unspontaneous and rigid to her friend Kevin, while it seems take-charge and caring to Edward. Kevin has never felt attracted to his high school friend Stacey but falls madly for the identical-looking Margaret because she seems more free-spirited and adventurous. So, yes, it takes all kinds.
Do we know where the movie is going at all times? Of course. But princess appreciators of all ages won't mind the predictable twists and turns, and will enjoy settling in for a cozy viewing sure to get everyone in the holiday spirit.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about holiday movies. What's the appeal of stories set during the holiday season? Why are romances especially popular?
If you could swap lives with someone for a day, who would you switch with? Why?
Who do you think The Princess Switch's target audience is? Which aspects seem designed to appeal to kids, and which are for adults?
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