- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2005

Disney’s “Ice Princess,” a figure skating fable heavily tilted toward female audiences, generates a considerable amount of charm and appeal in the early going while introducing its heroine, Casey Carlyle, portrayed by Michelle Trachtenberg. A winsome camera subject probably best known as the kid sister from TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” the young actress may stir pleasant recollections among older viewers of the young Leslie Caron or Liza Minnelli.

Slim and long-limbed, Miss Trachtenberg cuts a graceful figure when gliding dreamily across the ice. Most of the young actresses cast in skating roles have, of course, been doubled for the more advanced stunts. The movie is a little clumsy about covering the seams and sustaining anything identifiable as a complete skating routine.

As writers Meg Cabot and Hadley Davis envision this Cinderella story, Casey is a brainy New England high school junior contemplating a college future at Harvard. Advised to come up with a distinctive science project as part of a scholarship push, Casey decides to explore the physics of figure skating.

Initially miscalculating, she brings her video camera to the hometown rink without first asking permission of the management, embodied by Kim Cattrall as Tina Harwood, a champion of 20 years earlier who now coaches her own daughter, Gen (Hayden Panetierre), one of Casey’s classmates.

Casey’s mother is a Joan played by Joan Cusack. A college literature teacher, she chilled my blood by assigning a class essay on “the less-is-more feminist writers of the 20th century” during the one and only scene that documents her profession.

The Carlyles reside a bit out of town, on a property that includes an ice pond. So Casey is no stranger to skates, even if her competitive and high-achieving tendencies have been reserved for the classroom.

Once permitted to monitor Tina’s classes in the interests of science, Casey acquires an irresistible urge to try the athletic side in earnest.

There’s an amusing interlude in which she joins a class of much younger girls (and one presumably misfit lad). Instead of being an embarrassment to their recital, she makes a lovely impression.

By the time her senior year begins, Casey has become enough of a late bloomer to advance into her own age group and shoot for the regionals.

The figure skating passion, concealed from her very academic and protective mom, grows so overpowering that Casey eventually kisses off a Harvard interview.

The conflict between the Carlyles is echoed in the Harwood sector, where Gen frustrates her mother by tiring of the grind necessary to climb the skating pyramid. The two mothers must, inevitably, overcome a rivalry that harks back to “The Turning Point” before hatchets can be buried, permitting the girls to follow their dreams, even if it breaks maternal hearts.

It’s not a pretty sight when everyone gets majorly conflicted in all too predictable ways. Still, the good will and finesse “Ice Princess” displays in its first hour cushion the movie when the plot wobbles and pratfalls in the closing half-hour.


TITLE: “Ice Princess”

RATING: G (No objectionable dialogue or depiction; episodes of parent-child conflict)

CREDITS: Directed by Tim Fywell. Screenplay by Hadley Davis, based on a story by Meg Cabot. Cinematography by David Hennings. Production design by Lester Cohen. Costume design by Michael Dennison. Choreography by Anne Fletcher. Music by Christophe Beck

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes

WEB SITE: https://disney.go.



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