**1/2 (out of 5)
March 18, 2005
Joan Cusack as JOAN CARLYLE
Kim Cattrall as TINE HARWOOD
Michelle Trachtenberg as CASEY CARLYLE
Hayden Panettiere as GEN HARWOOD
Trevor Blumas as TEDDY HARWOOD
Kirsten Olson as NIKKI
Jocelyn Lai as TIFFANY
Directed by: Tim Fywell
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I don’t make it a point to socialize with too many film critics. In general, I’ve found them to be a bit snobby, making snide comments about commercial films like “Harry Potter” and getting weak in the knees as garbage art house flicks like “The Door in the Floor.” However, this past week, I found myself talking with several of them, and one thing seemed to be a common factor. They were all dreading “Ice Princess.”
Now, this flick is not exactly my kind of movie, but come on! It’s a cute little Disney film. It’s not something I’d have seen if I didn’t have to, but it’s not all that bad. It reminds me of the critical flogging “The Princess Diaries 2” got last year simply because it was a formula film that played to the pre-teen girl audience.
Man, these critics need to lighten up a bit.
“Ice Princess” is exactly what you’d expect it will be. There’s no great surprises. The story is one giant cliche. And you can practically predict the dialogue seconds before it happens.
But if you like that sort of thing, it’s not a bad film. It definitely plays to its audience – “Varsity Blues” on Ice. Take any sports film about a student coming to age in the wake of an overbearing parent who is trying to relive his or her youth, and you have the plot of “Ice Princess.” Now I’ve never seen this formula put through the figure skating factory, so at least it gets some points for originality.
In this version, Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg) is a physics whiz at school who does an independent research project about the physics of ice skating. In the process, she becomes enamored with the sport and starts pursuing it, much to the dismay of her mother (Joan Cusack) who thinks she’s Harvard bound.
The movie takes place in a small New England town under the shadow of a rupturing nuclear power plant. Of course, there’s no mention of this power plant anywhere in the film. I just came up with that one on my own because it seems to be the only explanation for why everyone in this film acts insane. The parents are insane. The kids are insane. I didn’t see any pets, but I’ll be they’re insane as well.
That’s not to say that I don’t believe that overbearing parents don’t exist. They do. I’ve seen my fair share of mothers and fathers who push their kids into sports, college or careers not for the kids’ best interest but rather to fulfill some dream or image in society. But a whole town full of these people? That was a little too much if you’d ask me.
Michelle Trachtenberg, whom I last saw in a much more revealing role in “EuroTrip,” holds her own on the big screen. She has a nice blend of teenage awkwardness and elegance to give her the needed sympathy. Hey, I’d much rather see her set up to be the next big teen actress, hopefully knocking Lindsey Lohan and her overblown ego off her party girl pedestal.
Joan Cusack takes on a gutsy role as Casey’s mother, wearing no noticeable make-up and getting some respect in my book by not having to look flawless on screen. If only her scenes weren’t so heavy duty. Cusack plays a feminist version of her role from “Raising Helen,” and she turns in a solid performance, albeit a little too brooding for my tastes.
The odd casting choice was Kim Cattrall, who was last seen on television as the 40+ sex-pot Samantha on “Sex in the City.” The casting of Cattrall made some news because she went from “Sex” to “Disney” so quickly. She does only so-so as the maniacal ice skating coach, reminding us that all those Emmys and praise for her on television was more for the character and the show than for her acting prowess. Oh well, at least Crow T. Robot will be happy.
Just take a look at the poster for “Ice Princess.” Or watch the trailer on the web or on TV. Or just read the blurb about it in the paper. If you do any of these, you’ll be prepared. If you like a big slice of Disney cheese, you’ll have fun. If not, stay home.