"Ice Princess" Perfect for Young Daughters and Parents, Too
- Annabelle Robertson Entertainment Critic
- 2005 17 Mar
Release Date: March 18, 2005
Run Time: 105 min.
Director: Tim Fywell
Actors: Joan Cusack, Kim Cattrall, Michelle Trachtenberg, Hayden Pannettiere, Trevor Blumas, Connie Ray, Kirsten Olsen
Think sports and academics don’t mix? What about the geeks and the popular kids? With a few twirls, jumps and triple lutzes, “Ice Princess” spins away these stereotypes.
Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg) wants to go to Harvard, which suits her feminist mother, Joan (Joan Cusack) just fine. Maybe a little too fine, in fact. But Casey definitely needs a scholarship, because her dad is no longer in the picture and her mother is a professor. No problem, says Casey’s physics teacher. Just come up with an interesting physics project, personalize it, and with your grades, you’ll get a free ride to the Ivy League. Since Casey loves to skate on the family pond, she decides to study the dynamics of skating. In particular, she wants to learn if formulas can apply to the many jumps, twirls and spins a skater makes. So she sets off for the local ice rink and begins filming the skaters, who happen to be the most popular girls in school.
Casey’s project comes together well, but she soon finds herself fascinated by the world of skating. She enrolls in a beginner’s course, all the while insisting to her mother – and herself – that it’s part of the project. Joan may be supportive of Casey’s academic dreams, but she despises the skimpy clothes and the supposed ‘objectification of women’ that skating promotes. As Casey gets better and better, she soon qualifies to compete. Yet, she’s torn between her love for the sport and an academic path.
“Ice Princess” is a lovely story written by Meg Cabot (author of “The Princess Diaries”) that promotes several great messages. First, it shows that academics are just as cool as sports. Casey may be a “science geek,” but look what that gets her: not only a scholarship to Harvard, but also (eventually), the admiration of the popular crowd. The film encourages young girls to pursue their dreams, as well, showing that the possibilities are endless – and that you might be far better than you or anyone else ever expects. Finally, the film serves as a warning to parents who are using their children to fulfill a need in themselves. All of the parents in “Ice Princess” are “stage mothers” who push their children endlessly. The skating mothers want their children to skate, and Joan wants her daughter to become an academic. None take into consideration their children’s dreams and desires and instead, appear to be living vicariously through their children.
As the Cinderella-skater, Michelle Trachtenberg does a great job, playing the geek and the shy-Di champion with poise, confidence and credibility. As her feminist mother, Joan Cusack adds a nice dimension, always on cue – and not too whiny, as she was in “Raising Helen.” Hayden Panettiere (“Racing Stripes”), as the popular girl-turned-girlfriend, is also believable – and surprisingly likable. And Canadian TV star Trevor Blumas, as the Zamboni-driving love interest, is adorable. The only off-note is Kim Cattrall, as Tina Harwood, the former skating champion who coaches all the girls, and who is willing to do whatever it takes for her daughter to win. Like Kim's character in the HBO series “Sex in the City,” Tina is ruthless. But few of Cattrall’s lines ring true here, and she appears to be out of her element in this family film.
The only comment I would make about “Ice Princess” is, where are all the dads? Neither Joan’s husband nor Tina’s husband are ever mentioned, much less seen. Two of the skaters have fathers, but they are annoying, pushy and whiny. So the film centers around women, without much male influence. Sadly, this is often the case in many families, but it would have been nice to see just one positive role model of a father – or at least, like the women, one who eventually comes around.
Still, it’s hard to criticize a film that is this good. Not only are the story, the messages and the acting all fantastic, but the movie sticks to child-appropriate humor. It even reverses the usual teenage-film stereotype about the popular girls. And no bathroom humor – am I dreaming?
“Ice Princess” is perfect for your young daughters. The surprising thing is, you’ll also enjoy it yourself.
AUDIENCE: Children and adults
- Drugs/Alcohol Content: None.
- Language/Profanity: One mild profanity (OMG).
- Sexual Content/Nudity: 18-year-old boy and girl kiss chastely at end of film.
- Violence: None, except for skating falls.