Warning: Spoilers ahead for The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star
The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star, Netflix’s latest installment in their campy Christmas saga, wraps up with an appropriately Hallmark-esque ending for all three of Vanessa Hudgens’s characters. Once again directed by Mike Rohl and written by Robin Bernheim Burger, The Princess Switch 3 returns to the three identical characters played by Vanessa Hudgens: Margaret Delacourt, Duchess of Montenaro; Stacy Wyndham, Princess of Belgravia; and Fiona Pembroke, Margaret’s ne’er-do-well cousin. The film premiered on Netflix on November 18, further cementing Netflix’s position as a steady producer of so-bad-they’re-good Christmas movies.
Each entry in the Princess Switch franchise must, as the title suggests, include some combination of the 3 Vanessa Hudgens characters impersonating one another. This time around, Margaret and Stacy are working together to host an international Christmas festival in Margaret’s kingdom of Montenaro, and they decide to feature the Star of Peace, a sacred Christmas relic supposedly having belonged to Saint Nicholas himself. However, just before the festival, the Star of Peace is stolen right from under their noses. When the police come up short, Margaret and Stacey decide to recruit Fiona—who has been languishing in a convent to complete her community service sentence—to use her criminal history and connections to help them recover the priceless artifact. However, their heist plans get shaken up and both Margaret and Stacy must pretend to be the fabulous and sassy Fiona in order to save Christmas.
As Netflix expands its apparently-interconnected Christmas universe, some audiences feel that The Princess Switch 3 loses some steam, failing to introduce a fourth Vanessa Hudgens lookalike and mostly offering more of the same. Others feel that “more of the same” is exactly what this style of Christmas movie should be offering. In true Christmas feel-good fashion, the resolution is straightforward and saccharine, wrapping everything up with a little bow; here’s what the ending of The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star really means.
Is Fiona Actually Reformed?
In The Princess Switch: Switched Again, the villainous Fiona schemes to impersonate her cousin Margaret and take the throne, accidentally kidnapping Stacy instead of Margaret. The end of that movie sees Fiona caught and justice supposedly being served as she is escorted away by the police. The arc of The Princess Switch 3 centers on Fiona though and reveals that she has only been sentenced to serve community service in a convent, where the Mother Superior is at the end of her wits dealing with Fiona’s antics and entitlement. But by the end of the movie, Stacy has impersonated Fiona before the disciplinary board and gotten the rest of her sentence waived. So has Fiona truly been rehabilitated?
The film itself brushes off this question, as Stacy expresses some concern about being the driving force in getting Fiona (her kidnapper) out of trouble, and her husband Prince Edward (Sam Palladio) replies, “Let’s not worry about that right now.” Fiona certainly showed some signs of change, though they were tempered by the trappings of her old self. It’s possible that her arc could mirror that of another villain from a Vanessa Hudgens vehicle, Sharpay from the High School Musical franchise: each film makes an effort to earnestly reform her, though she always ends up the villain again somehow.
By the end of the movie, however, Fiona has forgiven her distant mother (Amanda Donohoe), admitted to her true feelings for her childhood friend and ex-boyfriend Peter (Remy Hii), and agreed to spend Christmas with her mother, Peter, and the lookalike crew at the palace. In addition, despite her financially-motivated kidnapping in the previous installment, she doesn’t waver for a moment when she is in possession of the Star of Peace, returning it to Margaret and Stacy without even considering absconding with it to benefit herself. This seems to confirm that if The Princess Switch 4 is greenlit, Fiona will remain a reformed woman when it matters, though her devil-may-care attitude is likely here to stay.
Who is the Elf Man?
The entire Princess Switch saga was kicked off by Robin Soans’s character, billed only as Kindly Man in the first film, as he convinced Stacy to go to Belgravia in the first place. Later, he appears in Belgravia to help prevent Margaret and Stacy’s Prince-and-the-Pauper ruse from being discovered too quickly. In The Princess Switch 2, he appeared as a cab driver who sabotaged Kevin and Olivia’s ride to the airport in order to reunite them with Margaret — but this time, Soans was billed as Elf Man instead, winking at the cheesy Christmas magic necessary to perfect the Hallmark formula. In The Princess Switch 3, Elf Man is back with his signature twinkling eyes and knowing smile. This time he hands Margaret (disguised as Fiona) her cape and car keys as she rushes to escape the party. At the time, however, Margaret is not being immediately pursued, which makes the Elf Man’s assistance in this movie feel strangely inconsequential and unnecessary. With the build-up from the previous entries, this movie felt poised to reveal some of the Christmas lore that had been driving the plots, but sadly, it left us with more questions than answers about Elf Man and his machinations.
The Real Meaning of The Princess Switch 3
Just like the Hallmark Christmas movies they emulate, The Princess Switch films tend to culminate in a message about family and acceptance. This installment is no different, though the meaning is illuminated through the growth of Fiona this time. She learns a surprisingly layered lesson about both moving on from and embracing the past, as she chooses to forgive her mother who had abandoned and ignored her, but she also chooses to be with Peter, who had supported and stuck by her when she needed him most. Mirroring Fiona’s decision to forgive her mother, Margaret shows consistent kindness to Fiona and repeatedly invites her to spend the holidays with them, despite Fiona’s past crimes against her. Fiona tearily verbalizes the overall message of the film to Peter at the end: “We never know how much time we have left with the people we care about.”
Does The Princess Switch 3 Set Up A Sequel?
A potential Princess Switch 4 could expand Netflix’s Christmas universe along with its own holiday lore, although The Princess Switch 3 resolves its plot threads quite tidily. A new status quo among Margaret, Stacy, and Fiona could set up yet another identity-switching plot for the sequel, although to continue feeling fresh, it may be prudent to introduce another set of lookalikes (given Hudgens’s reluctance to add more characters for her to play). A possible sequel could also explore the new relationship between Fiona and Peter, and Fiona’s mother Bianca would probably be in on the hijinks. Whether Netflix ends up greenlighting a sequel likely depends on how they want to handle their growing Christmas universe and how willing Hudgens is to continue making the movies. In the meantime, Netflix and Hudgens have served up a campy Christmas trilogy, rounded off with The Princess Switch 3.
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