[box cover]

Ice Princess

For those who don't insist that Ice Princess re-invent the tween-oriented ice skating genre, Tim Fywell's bright and inoffensive contribution to girlish daydreams slips into its erstwhile bubblegum formula just enough glimmers of quality to survive the burden of adult skepticism. Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Michelle Trachtenberg stars as Casey Carlyle, a geek-ish high school wallflower with a gift for physics and a passion for figure skating. For her application to Harvard, Casey devises a project applying the laws of physics to a group of competitive skaters from her high school. At first, Casey's analyses help the other girls overcome their bugaboos, but it isn't long before Casey turns her experimentation on herself and discovers her own latent talent on the ice. As far as the narrative goes, there are very few surprises in Ice Princess: As a skater, Casey blossoms from a wallflower into a graceful beauty; her obsession with skating is met with resistance from her strict (and, naturally, single and cash-strapped) mother (Joan Cusack); Casey's fellow skaters (Hayden Panettiere, Kirsten Olson) are under immense pressure from their parents and the competition is cutthroat. While Fywell's direction of Ice Princess may be generic, it is also pleasantly unaggressive and rarely belabors its familiar tropes, instead gliding along its predictable path free from self-consciousness. Writers Meg Cabot and Hadley Davis also include enough original and colorful character detail to leaven the clichés, and some fine casting transforms otherwise undistinguished material. Trachtenberg proves able and charming in a leading role supported by quality veterans like Cusack (who salvages some heart from an otherwise dour feminist scold) and Kim Cattrall (as the, you guessed it, bitchy and demanding skating coach still living down the failures of her own skating career). While Ice Princess lacks the spunk of the previous decade's skatefest The Cutting Edge, it is decent and harmless and nowhere near as insufferable as it could have been. It must be said, however, that the romance between Casey and a pillow-headed Zamboni driver (Trevor Blumas) is as empty and insipid as they come, and is, thankfully, not a prominent subplot. Disney's DVD release of Ice Princess offers a good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. This disc includes a commentary with actors Trachtenberg, Panettiere, Blumas and Olson; a nice alternate opening scene; a few negligible deleted scenes; and music videos by Caleigh Peters and Aly & A.J. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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