The Princess Switch: Switched Again (2020)

The Princess Switch: Switched Again (2020)

Director: Mike Rohl

Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Sam Palladio, Mark Fleischmann, Nick Sagar, Mia Lloyd, Suanne Braun, Lachlan Nieboer, Ricky Norwood, Florence Hall

When Duchess Margaret unexpectedly inherits the throne to Montenaro and hits a rough patch with Kevin, it’s up to her double Stacy to save the day before a new lookalike, party girl Fiona foils their plans. – IMDB

The Princess Switch, while not exactly a fresh idea, was a fun one in its original release. Vanessa Hudgens is rather fun playing two different characters, playing around with accents and different background and identity swaps. Something like a version of It Takes Two for grown-ups. You can read my review of the first film HERE.

When Netflix announced that there was a sequel, it was hard to imagine what direction they would take. It didn’t feel like there was a whole lot of other stories to tell especially seeing as A Christmas Prince had already gone through 2 sequels by last year and each one feeling less and less entertaining. The Princess Switch: Switched Again hits much lower than the original. Its not exactly unexpected but having a third Vanessa Hudgens character, Fiona, a different sort of character of the prior two is still fun enough however, the plot as a whole is lacking. Because of so many Vanessa Hudgens, everyone becomes passing figures. The story falls really flat as this new scheme comes into play, there’s just more pieces that don’t fit together and its not exciting or entertaining to watch. Some of the new characters try to be funny but it all seems to miss a mark. Nothing seems to be out of the expected and just turns into a fairly disappointing sort of ordeal. Of course, like I said before, its not unexpected.

Much like the first film, Vanessa Hudgens holds up the movie and is definitely the highlight here. She plays these three characters with a different style and vibe. Margaret and Stacy both being different while Fiona is a much more outward character and brings a little more sass and silliness especially with her two minions. Adding into the equation a guy that wants to win over Margaret’s affections, it all boils down to a fairly predictable sort of movie and the characters all being rather one-dimensional. Not that anyone is expecting more (at least I hope not). Other than Vanessa Hudgens and some of the characters from the first film, the thing that gives this one a little more points is that it finally ties up the world that Netflix is building between A Christmas Prince and this one as the royal family from there makes a cameo appearance.

Overall, The Princess Switch: Switched Again is a fairly normal movie, nothing that’s unexpected and everything stays rather predictable. The whole three personalities for Vanessa Hudgens just feels like she works really hard. Everything else feels a little more normal like the relationship between Stacy and her prince while Margaret sorting out things with Kevin. In comparison, it seems to give more weight to Margaret’s character this time as its in her kingdom this time. The whole world that Netflix creates for their Christmas stories is pretty neat. As a finishing thought, seeing as I’ve had rather lackluster feelings to both A Christmas Prince 3 and this one, I really don’t know where Netflix plans to take these stories or this world.

Double Feature: Always Be My Maybe (2019) & Dog Days (2018)

Valentine’s marathon is here! Well, at least some form of it! There will be TV Binges and some other double features lined up. However, its a much more casual deal this time around. Kicking off will be 2019’s Netflix romantic comedy release Always Be My Maybe and paired with 2018 romantic comedy Dog Days, because anything with dogs are going to be fun, right?

Let’s check it out!

Always Be My Maybe (2019)

always be my maybe

Director: Nahnatchka Khan

Cast: Ali Wong, Randall Park, James Saito, Michelle Buteau, Vivian Bang, Keanu Reeves, Susan Park, Daniel Dae Kim

Everyone assumed Sasha and Marcus would wind up together except for Sasha and Marcus. Reconnecting after 15 years, the two start to wonder – maybe? – IMDB

Ali Wong is truly a fantastic comedian and while this is stepping out of the comedian path and into acting, Ali Wong and her co-star Randall Park both take part in penning the script for this romantic comedy. It probably is why the script itself has some very quirky elements that somehow all come together in a random way. Randomness can bring in spontaneity and its what makes this romantic comedy rather fun and unique. Sure, the story feels about the same if you strip down the storyline but because Ali Wong and Randall Park are quite decent comedians, they adds a little more humor to their roles and works in the rom-com world.

Its this randomness in the script that actually does end up being a fun romp. Just like adding in a random Keanu Reeves cameo that honestly was super funny and probably the best part of the movie as the whole exaggeration of how the upper class things are rather silly. The movie takes that effort to play both sides as 15 years later, the two characters Sasha and Marcus have changed from Sasha being a known chef and rich and Marcus still doing the same as before in a somewhat starving artist sort of deal. Its the contrast that also creates a few sparks.

Always Be My Maybe is a fun romantic comedy. Striping it down, the main story is rather predictable but its the little comedic elements of both Randall Park and Ali Wong that give this flick a lot of heart and laugh. Its a feel good movie and one that is rather unique. Plus, they do have a few other more comedic roles especially with Michelle Buteau who plays a supporting role here as Sasha’s friend who after watching The Circle US as the host definitely was nice to see her here.

Dog Days (2018)

dog days

Director: Ken Marino

Cast: Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Adam Pally, Eva Longoria, Rob Corddry, Tone Bell, Jon Bass, Michael Cassidy, Finn Wolfhard, Ron Cephas Jones

A group of interconnected people in Los Angeles are brought together by their lovely canine counterparts. – IMDB

Set up as movies like Love Actually with different people in Los Angeles connecting through their dogs, Dog Days is a decent offering. The stories involve some great casting that has to take on most of the fun elements of this film. Vanessa Hudgens plays a woman who finds an abandoned dog and through this ends up volunteering at the pet shelter and connects with the socially awkward owner who happens to have a crush for her. Nina Dobrev plays an uptight morning show host who ends up being paired with an ex-football player to lighten up the show and connects through their two dogs. While Eva Longoria’s character and her husband are adopting a new girl who isn’t connecting with them but does through a lost dog who happens to belong to the fourth character of a widower who loses his dog accidentally and a pizza delivery kid (Finn Wolfhard) helps him look for it.

All pretty normal stories but because the characters themselves are well-casted, it adds a little something to it. It has its fun moments and a lot of cute moments as expected when working with a bunch of dogs and then some pretty heartwarming moments as connections build and love sparks and the likes, as with most romantic comedies, right? Its nothing super special but it does still have that feel good element when the film ends and everything generally pans out.

That’s it for this double feature!
Our first Valentine’s double feature to kick off this year’s “marathon”!
I’m a bit not sure where this is going so I’m aiming for another 2 double features in this marathon with some other tidbits like TV binges and such. 

Christmas 2018: The Princess Switch (2018)

The Princess Switch (2018)

The Princess Switch

Director: Mike Rohl

Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Sam Palladio, Nick Sagar, Alexa Adeosun, Suanne Braun, Mark Fleischmann, Sara Stewart, Robin Soans

A Chicago baker (V.Hudgens) is competing in a Christmas baking competition in Belgravia. There she bumps into the prince’s fiancee. They look alike and switch for 2 days. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – IMDB

If we talk about something along the calibre of last year’s A Christmas Prince (review) for this year, I would say that I’m not sure any movie in the Hallmark by Netflix category going to beat out this one. A Princess Switch is pretty much the familiar formula of Parent Trap and It Takes Two and movies of that sort except this time, we don’t have teenagers but rather young adults or in their 30s or mid20s or something like that. You know, marriage and romance age sort of story. It has a good bit of laughs and while some parts were kind of a little eye-rolling worthy, there is this charm to Vanessa Hudgens’ interpretation of both of these characters, whether it is Margaret or as Stacy that makes it so entertaining to watch. Plus, there is no doubt that this is a holiday film in the sense that it is set during Christmas and there is an overflowing amount of Christmas activities and endearing moments about the value of Christmas. Its a heartwarming and fun effort as a whole which makes it so much fun to watch especially as a guilty pleasure.

Whenever we talk about these sort of romantic comedy style holiday films, I have to always talk about chemistry. While I maintain that a lot of the really good acting had to go to Vanessa Hudgens, she did have pretty good chemistry with both of the male leads. Both Sam Palladio and Nick Sagar are charming in their own ways that fit the type of man that they portray in this movie so it works out. At the same time, there are some pretty fun moments between  each of these pairs that seem fitting for their situation if not sometimes a tad over-exaggerated but in this genre of film, it is sometimes okay to be like that and still really emphasize the chemistry and some warm laughs with the characters.

As a side note though, I do love how the King and Queen, especially the Queen’s role here as they question the Duchess character making it feel more realistic as sometimes there is always these moments where the silliness things get looked over like everyone else is stupid. At the same time, the guard or whoever we call him ends up getting caught in figuring it out but also having these really hilarious moments of ending up in the most awkward situations like he’s a servant and not the higher ranking that he is supposed to be. Aside from the two assistants of sorts to the Duchess and the Prince who bring a lot of humor, we have the classic character who miraculously shows up everywhere as a magical element that strings together the character and the pieces. In some ways, it makes the movie on rails but it kind of pokes fun knowingly at itself that it works somehow.

Overall, I liked the Princess Switch a lot more than I expected I would. Vanessa Hudgens was on point with both her roles and the male leads were both very charming. There was a lot of heartwarming moments and fun moments and even some meaningful moments. Its really well put together for a holiday centered romantic comedy. It both had the romantic chemistry and holiday spirit in equal parts to make it feel enjoyable.

Grease: Live (TV Special 2016)

Did any of you catch the Grease: Live musical show last Sunday? I don’t have a TV so I didn’t but I managed to stream it on the public broadcasting network CTV in Canada online.  Grease is one of my favorite movies ever! Its feel-good and fun and all that lovely stuff.  You can check out my review for original movie HERE. Its one thing to want to do Grease since its a huge feat in itself but to do it live, that is taking it to another level. When I heard about it, I’m not going to lie, I was pretty impressed especially with the cast that it had.

Let’s check it out, shall we?

Grease: Live (2016)

grease live

Director: Thomas Kail & Alex Rudzinski

Cast: Aaron Tveit, Julianne Hough, Vanessa Hudgens, Carlos PenaVega, Carly Rae Jepsen, Jordan Fisher, Keke Palmer, Ana Gasteyer

After enjoying a summer romance, high school students Danny and Sandy are unexpectedly reunited when she transfers to Rydell High. There Sandy must contend with cynical Rizzo and the Pink Ladies in attempt to win Danny’s heart again.-IMDB

 Grease is a 2 hours and 15 minute live musical experience.  There are little bits that were changed from the original.  It feels like some songs were changed up and some scenes were modified, however, it does remain true to the original.  Its a blast to watch and one that remembered to keep the point of Grease intact.  The music was catchy, the young love was full of chemistry and the characters were fun and energetic to watch.  The effort and practice that the cast had to make sure it all flowed perfectly between acres of set and going from one location to the next was definitely impeccable and one that I admire.  I’m not exactly sure that having a live audience on set was really a good choice but at least it felt like it kept the energy there even if it at times, it emphasized that this was a show and not a story (if you know what I mean).

Grease Live

I guess, I would have to contradict the show part a little because the pro to it being that way is that there are added hosts.  While I’m not crazy about the whole sending to commercials and whatnot sort of thing and I did stream it after so it meant nothing to me essentially, the starting bit with the cast credits and whatnot lead in by the cast running around and going through the sets with Jessie J singing was a really nice touch.  Before I talk about the cast who are the highlight here, let me just say, how great is it that Boyz II Men played the Teen Angels and did that singing bit? Really awesome!! That’s my answer to that.

Grease: Live

Finally, the cast! The highlight of the show was really in the cast and the energy that they brought.  Aaron Tveit played Danny Zuko is perfect because he has the charisma to do it.  If you don’t believe me, check out his video singing Popular from Wicked.  Its a girl part but he adds such an adorable touch to it.  With Danny Zuko, I absolutely thought he was so fun to watch.  This guy is simply great! I’m not exactly sure I’ve been a great fan of Julianne Hough at the beginning of her career but in the last few years, she’s really changed my view of her and I’ve grown to appreciate her, maybe more as a performer and dancer than an actress but they let her show off some great dance moves and she does have a nice voice (which she did also show us in Burlesque).   Aside from that, Vanessa Hudgens probably was the show stealer especially since she proved that she’s extremely professional especially with the passing of her dad just the day before.  She did a stellar performance for Rizzo and brought on a nice attitude that the character had.  Talking about this, the show did end with a little dedication to her father and that was a very respectable thing to do as well.

Grease: Live

Moving on,  Frenchy was always a really nice character in the original, while I didn’t dislike it, I thought that someone other than Carly Rae Jepsen might have done a better job, however, it was better than I expected.  No complaints there. The boys playing the T-Birds was fun to watch.  I really like Jordan Fisher playing Doody a lot.  One of the other girls in Pink Ladies, Marty, played by Keke Palmer did a super fun number as well. I could go on with the cast and really say how I enjoyed each one.  But I won’t, because it would be boring and if you don’t know the original, all this would probably seem meaningless. However, that isn’t saying that this one has a little something that is different, maybe its because its live and while there are parts that you know are just practical effects and playing with lights and whatnot to imitate a certain scene, it was done really good.

Overall, Grease: Live did not disappoint at all.  It was almost as fun and energetic as the movie its based on.  The set and the accomplishment of this might just open doors for more of these TV special live musicals to take place and that is something I’d look forward to a whole lot.  Of course, that would have to include being able to get a cast that is as charismatic as this one to pull it off. You can see the hard work and the chemistry that the cast (and probably the crew) has worked together to make this happen.  The effort for Grease: Live is definitely noted by me and if I had the chance, I’d watch it again.  It respects the original and makes it suitable for TV, without hurting the story and what Grease meant to the audience whether its the catchy songs or the story about young love.

Did you catch Grease: Live on TV last weekend? Did you like it? Are you a fan of the original Grease?

Spring Breakers (2013?)

Let me explain the question mark.  A bunch of you put Spring Breakers in your 2013 list and I can’t remember when it was released; IMDB puts it in 2012 and RT in 2013.  So I figured I’d go with the general public thinking its in 2013 and then it makes me feel better about getting another 2013 movie out of the way.  I need to know how this movie ended up in a lot of the best lists.  Lets check it out!

spring breakers posterDirector: Harmony Korine

Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, Selena Gomez, James Franco, Gucci Mane

Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Cotty (Rachel Korine) and Faith (Selena Gomez) have been friends since they were kids.  They all go to the same college now and are bored with their current lives and want to experience more, have an adventure.  This motivates them to save money to go away for spring break. Through some unlawful and extreme ways, the girls get the money and head off to spring break where things get out of hand and they get locked up in jail.  To their surprise, Alien (James Franco) bails them out and they end up caught in a different sort of problems.

Spring Breakers is a flick that I’ve been not too sure about seeing.  For one, it doesn’t appeal to me but with all the positive reviews, I really wanted to see for myself.  A lot of times when I give chances to something different, it usually surprises me.  For Spring Breakers, its somewhat of a weird experience.  I started out thinking it was really bizarre.  It was a new in the sense that it used a lot of dazed out and hallucinatory (is that a word?) camera work.  Plus, the dialogue repeated a lot to emphasize a feeling, an emotion.  It felt broken and choppy, jumping here and there, flashing to naked chicks on the beach, booze and then flashing back to our four main characters.  Funny enough, all these things eventually did grow on me and it felt like I connected with some of the characters and just how they felt.  I’ve never been through their situation, goodness, no, I haven’t even experienced taking drugs.  I have no idea how any of that feels like and I was never a spring break girl, but somehow, it really was good at showing the deeper level of this flick.  There was something more that was expressed.

spring breakers girls

That scene up there is possibly one of the most innocent and fun scenes of the whole movie.  It was the good before EVERYTHING literally goes bad and these girls break apart in a certain way as they learn about themselves. While we are on the topic of the four leading girls here, I can’t help but say that if there was any initial reason to see this movie, it would be because of three of them.  Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez are from little teen movies back when they started.  I used to like them.  High School Musical is not so great to me now but back then, I did like it for a little bit.  Plus, these last few years, I’ve warmed up to Selena Gomez as well.  However, the one I really wanted to see was Ashley Benson because she is fantastic in Pretty Little Liars and seeing her do something outside of that role into this one was quite awesome.  I think other than Selena Gomez having a small and not so significant breakthrough, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson impressed me the most.

spring breakers alien

However, talking about performances, the one that really stole the show was James Franco as Alien.  Honestly, I almost didn’t recognize him.  As much as his character irritated me when he first appeared as the DJ going “y’all” over and over again.  I have to say that his character was unpredictable and that gave him that whole new edge which pushed it over the limits and made him so good to watch. My respect for James Franco probably doubled with this role. I was really impressed.

Aside from some good performances, I think it was the way the movie was presented that complimented the whole effect.  On top of hallucinatory scenes, repeated dialogue, the movie was full of shades of neon that only would work for a movie set between lots of partying and drugs.  This movie surprised me in a way that I wasn’t sure if I liked it because I’m pretty sure the beginning had me slightly confused with the characters but as it moved along, it really grew on me and I started really enjoying its bizarre set-up of everything.

I really think its worth a viewing.  If nothing else impresses you, try out James Franco’s role as Alien.  You might be as impressed as I am. 🙂

Have you seen Spring Breakers? What did you think of Alien? How about the girls? In your opinion was there a deeper meaning to the whole thing? Did you like it?