Distributed By: Disney
Reviewed by Justine Manzano
I love figure skating. I could never actually do it, myself, but growing up I used to dominate the television watching specials on the sport while yelling things like, “That’s a tenth of a point deduction! Hopefully, she’ll make it up in artistic,” and actually knowing what the hell that meant. I also, love Michelle Trachtenberg. As Dawn on my favorite series, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, she was a tremendous actress, constantly showing her ability to go anywhere for a scene. So, it seemed that Ice Princess, the figure skating themed movie starring Trachtenberg would be a perfect fit for me. And, for the most part, it was.
Trachtenberg plays Casey Carlyle, an unpopular “science geek” who is nominated for an important physics scholarship by her teacher. She is asked to submit a project based on physics that means something to her. After watching some figure skating on T.V. (and doing the exact same thing I used to do), she comes to the conclusion that there must be some aerodynamic formula that allowed the skaters to spin the way they do and decides that this is what her project should be about. The line where she said this, unfortunately, made her sound like a mad scientist, who should have been cackling with laughter while lighting struck at her windows, but the movie was cute and being for Disney, written for tweens, so we can forgive that…maybe.
Casey, who can already balance and spin on skates thanks to the pond in her backyard, heads to the nearest rink, ran by Tina Harwood (Kim Catrall - Sex and The City’s Samantha), an ex-figure skater with some controversy. Tina’s daughter Gen (Hayden Panettiere - Guiding Light, Remember The Titans, Racing Stripes) and her Zamboni driving brother (Trevor Blumas) watch as Casey tests her formula and lands a double jump! Soon, Casey begins to tutor other skaters in her aerodynamic formula to pay for training. Suddenly, Casey is training with Gen and learning the true ropes of figure skating under the instruction of Tina. Things start getting complicated—Casey’s mother (Joan Cusack) wants her daughter to go to Harvard, Tina wants Gen to beat Casey, and Gen just wants to be a normal kid. The odds are against her as Casey fights to live out her dream—to be a professional figure skater and to really work her way to the top.
The movie covered an exciting plotline, good writing and acting, and a spectacular tackling of real issues like the fight between careers with unrealistic goals like sports, or writing, and an academic, surefire goal. It also tackled the problem of stage mothering and how some people take the fun right out of art so easily. My only problems with the movie seemed to be direction. At some point in the middle of the movie, it felt like the movie changed directors and what was once a normally shot movie became a movie with a jarring use of hand operated cameras and zoom. It was a very strange use of camera work to show emotion, and in the end it just made the made the movie look like a cheesy old Spanish novella. Thankfully, this starts to occur by the point that you already love the characters, so you want to look past the mess—but you shouldn’t have to.
In the end, it all comes down to plot and this plot, while obviously created for young Disney viewers, really nailed the story of a young girl trying to figure out the difference between her dream and her mother’s dream for her. This is a definite feel-good movie with charm.