A pretty high-school science geek with a penchant forfigure skating uses physics to land a better lutz in "Ice Princess,"a follow-your-dream movie that is far less cliche-riddled than you mightexpect from such G-rated Disney fare.
Michelle Trachtenberg (the little sister from "Buffythe Vampire Slayer") stars as Harvard-bound misfit Casey Carlyle,who combines her two passions hoping to win a scholarship by proving sciencecan improve her skating. In the process, she discovers her calling maylie on the ice instead of in a lab -- although there are many obstaclesto overcome, including a disapproving dowdy-feminist mom ("I justcan't get past the twinkie little outfits," frowns the wonderfullywry Joan Cusack) and some backstabbing ugliness from fellow competitors.
But the delight of "Ice Princess" is that there'smore to every almost character than meets the eye. Kim Cattrall ("Sexand the City"), for example, plays a disgraced former champion skaterwho begrudgingly helps Casey while vicariously coaching her beautiful in-crowddaughter Gen (talented Hayden Panettiere) toward a career on the ice. Appearingto be antagonistic stereotypes at first, both reveal unexpected aspectsof empathy and authentic human frailty as Casey's rapidly growing talentthreatens Gen's standings in local competitions.
The third act is more predictable as Casey and Gen advanceto regional championships, where real-life skaters (and obvious non-actors)Michelle Kwan and Brian Boitano stumble through roles as ESPN play-by-playcommentators, offering up lifeless voice-over exposition that tells theaudience what to think of Casey's performance. Contrived complicationsarise in the last 15 minutes to keep the plot afloat -- as do a few falsedilemmas. Why must Casey choose between college and skating? Couldn't shejust defer Harvard for a year while she tests her talent in competition?
But for the most part director Tim Fywell ("I Capturethe Castle") keeps the stock elements in check, including a romancewith a cute zamboni driver (Trevor Blumas). More importantly, he doesn'trely on the physics gimmick or on his skating doubles (who are seamlesslyedited into scenes of his actors on the ice) to create a spectacular sports-underdogclimax.
He lets the performances drive the story and helps Trachtenbergcreate in Casey such a credible, likable, easily discombobulated Everygirlthat even when "Ice Princess" slips on one of its more conventionalplot points, it doesn't effect the picture's overall performance. LikeCasey herself, "Ice Princess" gets up, dusts off and glides gracefullyinto its next, more intricate, character-driven maneuver.
Run time: 98 mins
In Theaters: Friday 18th March 2005
Box Office USA: $24.4M
Box Office Worldwide: $27.6M
Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures
Production compaines: Walt Disney Pictures, Bridget Johnson Films, Skate Away Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 52%
Fresh: 54 Rotten: 50
IMDB: 6.0 / 10
Director: Tim Fywell
Starring: Michelle Trachtenberg as Casey Carlyle, Joan Cusack as Joan Carlyle, Amy Stewart as Ann, Hayden Panettiere as Gen Harwood, Kim Cattrall as Tina Harwood, Steve Ross as Mr. Bast, Trevor Blumas as Teddy Harwood, Kirsten Olson as Nikki Fletcher, Jocelyn Lai as Tiffany Lai, Connie Ray as Nikki's Mom, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Tiffany's Dad, Roy Bradshaw as Tiffany's Coach, Mark Hird as Nikki's Coach, Ben Gilbank as Brian, Thanh Nguyen as Hot Dog Kid
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