Brief synopsis: When a priceless jewelled attract gets stolen, a queen and princess decide to recruit the criminal doppelgänger cousin of the queen to help retrieve it. The artefact needs returning before the cardinal, who lent the artefact, finds out, causing an international incident.
Is it any good?: As inevitable as Noddy Holder and Mariah Carey getting airtime on streaming services and radios across the Christian world, in the run-up to Christmas, Vanessa Hudgens is easing into the same category, a Christmas rom-com of some description reliably releasing around the holidays.
The Princess Switch 3 – Romancing the Star sees Hudgens reprise the multiple roles of queen, princess and cousin in the popular franchise. As is the case with many sequels, this one sees diminishing returns from a premise that has perhaps run its course.
Spoiler(ish) territory: Queen Margaret (Vanessa Hudgens), along with her close friend and doppelgänger, Princess Stacy (also Hudgens), is hosting a Christmas festival in their home nation, Montenaro.
Dignitaries from around the world are invited to the small principality for the festival. The Vatican has loaned a rare, jewelled artefact for the occasion; The Star of Peace.
The jewel is stolen days before the festival. The queen must retrieve the item without the Vatican finding out about its loss. They need someone who knows the world of criminality.
They recruit Fiona (Hudgens again), another doppelgänger and cousin to the queen. Fiona, serving community service for attempting to steal the monarchy, agrees to help get the item back.
Fiona goes to see an old friend, Peter (Remy Hii), a former Interpol agent. Peter works out that a. hotel tycoon, Hunter Cunard (Will Kemp), had the gem stolen. A collector of rare items, Hunter had it stolen.
Peter reasons, given Hunter’s connection, reporting the jewel stolen would only create more of a problem. They will have to steal the jewel back. They formulate a plan to attend the tycoon’s annual Christmas party. There they will steal back the gem.
Peter has a soft spot for Fiona. It is something he has had since childhood, the two longtime acquaintances. Fiona does not have close relationships. Her memories of her mother, Bianca’s (Amanda Donohoe), abandonment around the holidays, acute.
The theft is a three-person job. One of Fiona’s flunkies, Reggie (Ricky Norwood), gets injured. Queen Margaret must impersonate Fiona for the mission’s success.
The conditions of Fiona’s community service, Stacy finds impersonating the wayward cousin whilst she and the queen complete the theft.
Final thoughts: The Princess Switch 3 – Romancing the Star is a harmless piece of fluff. Easily the weakest of the three films, it lacks the charm and humour of its predecessors.
Hudgens is watchable as ever. Unusually, especially for Hudgens, an actor whose chemistry with a variety of male actors is one of her strengths, her chemistry with Hii’s Peter is non-existent.
With Mike Rohl on directing duties again, Robin Bernheim and Megan Metzger are the writers, just as they were on the previous two instalments.
The script, this time around, does not have the same snap or humour of the previous films. Even the humour that should work is a little forced. The actors work gamely to try and make the story work, reprising their various roles admirably.
The script, unfortunately, is just a little flat. The directing is competent, the film looks good. With a one-hundred-and-six minute runtime, the film bumps through at a good pace. There are a few lulls but nothing significant.
The weak strand about abandonment around the holidays and the film being set around Christmas are the only things that make it a festive film. There are no surprises. What one expects to happen happens and it looks how it is meant to look.
The Princess Switch 3 – Romancing the Star is an okay film if you enjoyed the previous two instalments. As a standalone film, it does not hold up. It is not worth an hour and forty minutes of one’s time.