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Ice Princess Review

By Shawn McKenzie 03/18/2005

The new Disney live-action flick Ice Princess is going to be a crowd pleaser for its target audience:  pre-teen girls.  Since the movie was based on a story written by author Meg Cabot, who has had success with The Princess Diaries novels (of which two movies have been made), I figured that this movie would be entertaining for adults as well (or at least the first Diaries movie was entertaining to me.)  While the movie wasn’t bad, it wasn’t the most exciting movie to me.  Some decent performances did keep it from becoming bad though.

Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg) is a high school physics geek who is on her way to Harvard.  Her single mother Joan (Joan Cusack) is a Feminist Studies professor and she is trying to encourage Casey to be a big physics student at Harvard.  While Casey is very intelligent and talented in physics, her passion is ice-skating.  She practices her skating on the frozen lake in front of her mother’s New England house, but she never imagined that she could make a career out of it.  When her physics teacher, Mr. Bast (Steve Ross), suggests that she should write a research paper on the physics of ice-skating, she does just that and goes to the Harwood Skating Club to film the skaters do their thing.  Later, she plans to watch the tapes and study the physics involved in their moves.  She bumps into some resistance when the owner of the skating club, Tina Harwood (Kim Cattrall), tells Casey that she can’t film the skaters.  Tina is a former Olympic skating champion who fell from grace because of a scandal in her past and now trains skaters in her class, one of which is her daughter Gen (Hayden Panettiere.)  Casey appeals to Tina, and she reluctantly allows Casey to film the class.  Casey observes other skaters, like Nikki, a.k.a. The Jumping Shrimp (Kirsten Olson), because she’s short and jumps high; and Tiffany (Jocelyn Lai.)  Casey also meets the other obsessive parents of the skaters, like Nikki’s mom (Connie Ray), Tiffany’s dad (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee), and their coaches (Mark Hird and Roy Bradshaw.)  Back at school, Casey realizes that Gen and her clique are the popular kids, so they act all snotty to her at first.  Gen is a talented skater, but she isn’t as passionate about it as her mother, and she just wants to live her own life, including being able to spend time with her boyfriend Brian (Ben Gilbank.)  Casey decides that the only way she can study the physics of skating is by skating herself, so she signs up for Tina’s beginner course.  When Tina informs her that the class costs $800, Casey gets a job in the concession stand at the skating club.  In the meantime, while working with her friend and fellow physics geek Ann (Amy Stewart), they notice how she has applied the physics to her own skating, and she becomes actually talented.  Tina notices this as well, and she offers to be Casey’s trainer, though not at the expense of her own daughter.  Casey has to hide her training from her mom, because she doesn’t approve of Casey doing something so demeaning as figure skating and turning her back on physics.  At her first big competition, Tina notices that Casey is almost as good as her daughter, so she sabotages her ability to skate, showing Tina’s true colors.  When informed by rival Zoe Bloch (Juliana Cannarozzo) about the sabotage, Casey begins to mistrust Tina.  Meanwhile, Casey starts having a crush on Teddy (Trevor Blumas), the Zamboni driver who happens to be Tina’s son and Gen’s brother.  As she prepares for the ESPN Eastern Sectional Championships, officiated by world-class skaters Michelle Kwan and Brian Boitano (both as themselves), she wonders if she has the stuff to make it as a skater, and whether or not her mother will support her dream.

The reason why Diaries was different from other little girl movies is that the star of that movie, Anne Hathaway, was realistically gawky-looking, and then became a princess later.  I had a hard time believing that Trachtenberg was a geek, because she looked like the other popular girls.  I liked the actress as Buffy’s little sister Dawn on UPN’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” but it was hard to see her in this role the way Hathaway was in Diaries.

As for the rest of the cast, most of them were decent.  This was Cattrall’s first big movie role since leaving the Emmy-winning HBO series “Sex and the City,” and she was all right.  You would think that she would take on a role similar to her role as Samantha Jones on “Sex,” but the fact that she did a completely different role just shows her desire to expand her horizons.  Cusack was completely believable as Casey’s mother.  Panettiere wasn’t bad as Gen, but her platinum blonde hair was a little distracting.

Ice Princess should appeal to little girls and their mothers, both of which will like it because of the mother-daughter relationships in the movie.  Like the movie itself, director Tim Fywell did a decent job with Cabot’s story (co-written with screenwriter Hadley Davis), especially with the skating scenes.  I just don’t see this movie appealing to guys of any age though.

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