Ice Princess (2005) / Drama-Family
MPAA Rated: G, suitable for all audiences
Running Time: 92 min.
Cast: Michelle Trachtenberg, Kim Cattrall, Joan Cusack, Hayden Panettiere, Trevor Blumas, Kirsten Olson, Jocelyn Lai, Michelle Kwan, Brian Boitano, Connie Ray
Director: Tim Fywell
Screenplay: Hadley Davis
When it comes to family movies, I try to cut the filmmakers a little slack, as I do realize that the audience for such a film is much younger, and in the case of Ice Princess, not really all that appealing to my gender. Try as I might, my attempt at graciousness wore too thin, and by the end of the movie, I found myself making fun of it, especially during times when I should have been applauding. It's too cute for its own good, inherently cloying, and the drama is heavy-handed to the point where the believability factor begins to defy all sense or logic.
Michelle Trachtenberg (EuroTrip, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") stars as Casey Carlyle, a geeky high school student that, with strong influence by her pushy mother (Cusack, The School of Rock), has big dreams of getting into a prestigious college when she graduates, thanks to her fantastic knack for science. Her latest project marries two of her favorite things, physics and figure skating, where she uses her computer and math skills to analyze the movements of figure skaters and break them all down to their scientific equivalent. Her studies soon take her onto the ice, where she learns how to apply all of the moves she has studied, and she is surprised to find that she has oodles of natural ability waiting to be tapped into.
While most of the story is low key, the implausibility factor is high, as we watch a mostly mature young woman not only learn to skate brilliantly with only a few short weeks of training, but she is soon better than almost all of her peers, most of whom have been rigorously training for years. Other factors detract from the otherwise nice story, such as the fact that Casey's mother, who practically is her shadow for every waking moment when she isn't in school, has absolutely no clue that her precious daughter has been spending hours every day ice skating at the local rink.
Lots of drama abounds, mostly dealing with shrewish Kim Cattrall ("Sex and the City", Star Trek VI), who, in one of the most egregious examples of economy of characters, plays the rink owner, instructor, best friend's mother and coach, mother of the love interest zamboni driver, and mandatory antagonist at times. As with most teen flicks that deal with the balance between scholastic achievements and athletic pursuits, some conflicts will obviously arise. However, as written by Hadley Davis ("Dawson's Creek", "Spin City"), these moments ring far too melodramatic to ever take seriously as realistic, especially since it doesn't appear that Casey's passion for skating affects her school work at all.
The one thing that I can give the film credit for is the nice performance by Trachtenberg, who almost has the charm and grace to turn this tosh into something worthwhile, Likeability only takes you so far, though, and once the schmaltz and contrived conflicts set in, the turbulence ruins what had once been a smooth and pleasant ride up to that point. Still, I must once again reconcile the fact that I'm not part of the target audience for a film such as this, and perhaps if someone were to ask me if their young daughter would like it, I'd have to respond in the affirmative. I could give this one a passing grade, but I think back to my own childhood, and all of the garbage I would watch ("Dukes of Hazzard", "Chips", "The A-Team") and just come to the conclusion that things one likes as a youth doesn't always equate to quality entertainment.
©2005 Vince Leo