Stacy De Novo, a hardworking Chicago-based pastry chef, finds her life in a tailspin after traveling to Belgravia and crossing paths with her doppelgänger – who just happens to be Lady Margaret Delacourt, a duchess set to marry a prince. When Lady Margaret approaches her with a wild plan to swap lives for a few days, Stacy has to make a choice between staying herself or venturing into a world of unknowns. Really, Netflix says it best with this stellar tagline: “Stacy makes delicious confections. Her look-alike has royal connections. Swapping lives gives both a taste of what they’re missing.” Game on!
[This review contains loads of spoilers, but honestly you can see what’s going to happen in this Hallmark-inspired plot from a mile away.]
Stacy De Novo (Vanessa Hudgens) owns a bakery in the heart of Chicago, and also happens to employ a super-hot sous chef, Kevin (Nick Sagar) – her longtime platonic pal that she has no romantical feels for at all. That doesn’t stop her from deciding to jet off to (the fictional town of) Belgravia for a famous baking competition with Kevin and his daughter Olivia (Alexa Adeosun) in tow, right after conveniently running into the ex who broke her heart. Nothing spurs cupcake wars like seeing an old lover hand-in-hand with his new bonafide!
Upon arriving in Belgravia, which happens to be as picturesque as a holiday postcard, she immediately comes face to face with her baking nemesis, the snooty Brianna Michaels (Amy Griffiths), last year’s winner of the coveted contest and Stacy’s former classmate at the Le Cordon Bleu. The two exchange hilariously biting insults (Brianna sarcastically inquires, “What are you making for your pièce de résistance? Cheetos à la mode?” Stacy hits back with a delightfully saucy double entendre: “Brianna was close to some of the faculty . . . Like when she sauced Professor Kendall’s berries.”). Then Brianna, unable to hold her cool, tosses her coffee at Stacy and stains her apron.
But hang on! Why is Stacy already in an apron on the streets of snowy Belgravia, sans coat? How is her breast not smarting from the burn of hot coffee? How is Brianna allowed to flounce off without taking responsibility for her actions? Where in the hell is Kevin?! None of this matters, because Stacy goes inside to retrieve a fresh apron and naturally runs into the reclusive Lady Margaret Delacourt (also played by Hudgens) who happens to be touring the space for the baking competition at the same moment Stacy needs to change her soiled clothing. Quelle coincidence!
The women eye each other in shock for about one minute before deciding it’s no big deal that they look EXACTLY ALIKE. With the help of deductive powers from Lady Margaret’s assistant, Mrs. Donatelli (Suanne Braun), they chalk up the genetic anomaly to wily old Cousin Cecil, who apparently moved to the States decades ago to spread his seed amongst “vulgar American divorcées.” Ladies, I have news for you: one of the divorcées Cousin Cecil spread his seed with was Stacy’s mom. And while they were… canoodling the egg inside Stacy’s mom split into two embryos and that other fetus became Margaret. Just a brief note on science. You know – in case you gals are curious as to WHY YOU LOOK EXACTLY ALIKE.
But no matter; the ladies are barely phased by this phenomenal circumstance. Lady Margaret coolly appraises the peasant version of herself before coming up with a crazy plan: what if the gals were to switch lives, for two days, so the duchess can live out a poverty fantasy before marrying her handsome and wealthy prince? It sounds like one hell of a deal for Stacy, but she has to be convinced. What’s in it for her? (You know, other than access to the royal family, hanging with the heir to the throne of Belgravia, and getting the chance to wear priceless jewels?) They strike a deal – Stacy will agree to temporarily become the duchess, if Margaret can secure a spot in Belgravia’s ballet school for Olivia. How selfless of Stacy! And, honestly, how bizarre and inappropriate as well. She is not Olivia’s mother. Hell, she won’t even bone Olivia’s dad. So how is she in the clear to commit a child she’s not even in charge of to dance classes in another country? Which parent is now going to be forced to move to Belgravia in order to accompany this minor while she pirouettes her days away? Who’s paying for the incidentals? I could write a separate blog post on this query alone.
But never mind all that! Let’s focus on the life-trade at hand. Stacy, with barely a whimper, agrees to chop off her locks in order to match Margaret’s helmet hair. (They decide they won’t be found out because the duchess is famously camera-shy and has rarely been seen outside the hamlet of her hometown, Montenero, much less around the streets of the minuscule Belgravia. It’s the perfect plan!) Margaret dons Stacy’s trusty “Chicago” baseball cap, and Margaret teaches Stacy to glide through the room like a proper princess. Margaret briefly teaches Stacy about the royal family tree and, boom! The swap is on faster than a key party in the seventies.
You might not think it’s possible, but from here the plot gets even sillier. Prince Edward (Sam Palladio) and the real duchess appear to have very little affection for one another, despite their engagement. Edward is uptight and proper; no surprise, given his rigid upbringing. I’m not sure what Margaret’s problem is, but she barely seems to tolerate her fiancé. However, when Stacy steps into Margaret’s shoes (literally, and they are hideous) boy do sparks start to fly, especially when they bond over quoting The Little Prince, as one does. (Apparently Tinder hasn’t hit Belgravia yet.)
Similar chemistry is a-brewing over at the cottage where Stacy, Kevin, and Olivia have been lodging together. All of a sudden Stacy’s seamless kitchen is cluttered, and she’s burning things. That’s because Margaret has never touched a stove in her life, and Stacy’s one-second tutorial wasn’t enough to get her up to speed. Who would’ve thunk it?
Meanwhile, I guess Stacy has no problem tricking her best friend/employee, Kevin, and his child – the two receive zero head’s up that they will be bunking with an imposter. This is in no way alarming, after all the only thing that matters is Margaret’s agenda, and only Margaret’s agenda. If this is her wedding pre-game, I can’t wait to see what this bish’s bachelorette party is gonna be like.
Thankfully, we don’t have to follow the “young kid unwittingly living with a total stranger” narrative for long, because Olivia figures out the swap rather quickly, and she’s totally down with it. She wants a new mom and has no problem helping Margaret maneuver into Kevin’s arms.
Both women take to their new roles like cotton to candy. Of course, it helps that their formerly drab love lives are now on estrogen-tinged speed, with both ladies ready to go all-in for their new men. Again, keep in mind that this takes place over the course of two days. Whatever’s in the water in Belgravia should be bottled and sold.
Oh, friends – there is more. So much more. Fake Margaret and Prince Edward play Twister. In a toy store. In front of the press. Because that is something a duchess would do! Fake Stacy and Kevin bond over Netflix Christmas movies (how much more meta can you get?) before making out in front of the fireplace. (A glimpse of Kevin’s abs seals the deal for Margaret, and who can blame her?) They switch back just in time for the real Stacy to handily win the baking competition, beating that bitch Brianna, who snipped the cord to Stacy’s mixer! The royal family gets wind of Margaret’s plot – but no one is upset, and no one questions why she was so unhappy with Edward that she felt the need to do all of this in the first place. All you need to know is that love wins!
Good lord, this could not be more ridiculous – but I dare you not to watch it with a grin on your face while you pray that Netflix “gifts” us with a sequel. The streaming giant is blatantly attempting to snatch Hallmark’s holiday crown, and I am here for it!
The Princess Switch (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time you spot a plot hole (of which there are many).
Take a Drink: every time you wonder why Margaret is forced to sport such a horrific hairdo.
Take a Drink: every time you muse if those jewels are real, y’all!
Take a Drink: for the scene in the tacky gazebo. The fact that we’re supposed to believe this makeshift structure is part of the royal grounds might be the funniest thing in the whole damn film.
Take a Drink: every time the kindly, yet totally random, old man shows up to help guide these women’s life choices.
Do a Shot: for the budget, that was obviously blown on location (filmed entirely in Romania) and not props, décor, or outfits for the cast.
No extra scenes, so no need to keep it rolling to the end of the credits. Unless you’re still Netflix & chillin’ – in which case, carry on!