Pulp Skating

Despite the talent and charm of its star, "Ice Princess' falls flat

Michelle Trachtenberg is a talented and cute-as-heck actress, and the prospects of her starring as an aspiring figure skater seem enticing. While Ice Princess occasionally soars behind her star power, a hack script acts like a steel baton to the knee, knocking the film down to the cold ice with a resounding thud.

No doubt, Trachtenberg worked her butt off for this film. Many of her character's moments on the ice are actually performed by Trachtenberg (although a body double performs the difficult jumps and spins), and there's an impressive commitment in her performance. Unfortunately, Ice Princess (a terrible name for a movie) is done in by gooey Disney stuff. This is not some sort of realistic study of a young woman pursuing her dream. It's a hokey exercise taking a few too many cues from Tonya Harding, actually giving the sport a bad name.

Trachtenberg is Casey Carlyle, a genius physics student who decides to make the study of figure skaters her ticket into Harvard. She also likes to skate on the frozen pond in her backyard, so when she decides to take a few lessons and test her math theories on herself, she finds she's a natural. Screw that potential berth into one of the world's best educational institutions; there's some skating to be done!

Drama ensues when Casey starts challenging rival Gen (Hayden Panettiere) in skating competitions, raising the ire of Gen's deranged mom and coach, Tina (a way-too-intense Kim Cattrall). Tina is a woman so reprehensible, she sabotages Casey's chance for a tournament victory by getting her to switch skates mid-competition, apparently a figure skating no-no (it causes big, bloody blisters). This is a Disney movie, so rather than Tina's ass being carted off to jail, this psycho character is redeemed by becoming Casey's coach. Forgiveness is a nice thing to preach to kids, but some felonies deserve straight-up jail time.

My guess is that most professional figure skaters will tell you that Casey makes an impossible rise to success. Skaters spend many years trying to perfect spins and jumps, but Casey, after crunching some physics numbers and casually skating on a frozen pond in a her backyard, starts landing the triple lutz. She shows up at competitions with short and long programs all ready to go, with no film footage truly dedicated to the formation of those programs. In short, this isn't the hardcore skating movie that rabid Michelle Kwan fans have been eagerly awaiting.

There's some drippy romance crap supplied by Tina's son (Scriptwriting 101: Streamline your plot by keeping everything all in the family). Teddy (Trevor Blumas) drives the ice-cleaning machine, and he's just dreamy. So Casey finds love and skating stardom all in one fell swoop. Screw studying those physics and getting into Harvard! Physics is for geeks!

For authenticity's sake, some actual figure skaters have been cast. They skate well, but unfortunately, some of them are asked to act. Especially annoying is Juliana Cannarozzo as a feared punk-rock rebel figure skater. Sure, most films need a nemesis, but this character is a bit of a stretch.

Trachtenberg is a charmer, but Ice Princess isn't nearly worth her presence. She trained hard, and her moments on the ice are rather convincing. Still, it's hard to watch a good actress trying to turn bronze into gold. On a good note, Ice Princess does boast an appearance by the great Brian Boitano, so at least it has that going for it. Boitano rules!

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