The majority of people have no idea what they want to do with their lives while in high school. And let’s face it, a lot of us never truly figure it out. Movies like Ice Princess exist to remind us of a confusing time of warped priorities that we would never want to relive and barely want to think about; except for the jocks and cheerleaders who will reminisce about those days as the prime of their lives. Moment of silence please, for those poor unfortunate souls.
Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg) is a bona fide academic geek, exchanging a social life for Pythagorean Theorems. As a teenage high school senior, she has her eye on Harvard, mainly because her mother Joan (Joan Cusack) has enforced the importance of education since she was a wee fetus. While meeting after class with her stumpy physics teacher, he informs Casey about a physics scholarship that he deems her calling in life. “How do you know if you have a calling?” she inquires. “When your brilliant teacher tells you so!” he shoots back. Everyone thinks they know what is best for Casey, and so she succumbs to their wishes.
Regardless of her straight A’s, she is most happy when she is skating on a frozen pond in the backyard of her house, and would love nothing more than to be a professional skater. An epiphany strikes one afternoon and she decides to do her experiment for the scholarship on the aerodynamic formulas of ice skating movements. She asks permission to videotape ice skaters training for the Regionals, and coach Tina Harwood (Kim Cattrall) reluctantly obliges, after delivering a hearty supply of attitude. Tina’s daughter Gen (Hayden Panettiere), one of the popular blonde girls in school, would gladly hang up her skates in order to spend more time making out with her boyfriend, but her mother dismisses her desires and continues to force her to ‘go for the gold’.
Gen and Casey may face different levels of social status in school, but they both have overbearing mothers that they feel unfairly control their lives. Since misery loves company, the two of them become quick friends. Naturally, when Casey’s experiment is finished, she becomes obsessed with competing in the Regionals herself, leading her to stop hitting the books and start hitting the ice. Similarly, Gen becomes fed up with athletic competition and vouches instead to be a partying wild child. If only their mothers would just step aside and let them make messes of their lives in peace.
There are no real surprises in Ice Princess, and things work out exactly how you would imagine. Maybe that is the most disturbing element of the movie for me. Is the message that your dreams should be followed at all costs, even if they are completely idiotic decisions that will likely ruin your life? What a fabulous message to be sending out to an audience of impressionable young girls. I can imagine the look of horror on a parent’s face when her twelve-year-old comes home and asks, “Hey mommy, can I practically drop out of school to pursue a pipedream too?”
If you can look past the morally questionable theme of ‘from scholastic to fantastic’, Ice Princess is a pleasant enough movie for its target audience. Girls do lots of giggling and gabbing while screechy cornball music plays overhead, which is pretty much what you’d expect from a movie aimed at the tween audience. The love interest, Teddy (Trevor Blumas), is happy to drive his Zamboni through traffic to reach the girl of his dreams. So what if a few pedestrians are plowed along the way, it’s all in the name of romance.
Be prepared to suspend all traces of disbelief and willingly embrace artificiality along the way. Michelle Trachtenberg does an okay job with her role, even though you can see her trying desperately to act awkward, since it comes about as naturally as a facelift. She is an attractive girl that we are supposed to find undesirable, simply because she ties her hair back and does not sport the latest line of Calvin Klein outfits. And of course, it’s amazing how someone can go from skating on a pond to effortlessly doing triple axel jumps in a competition, without any elongated form of formal training! Check your brain at the door and tell your kids to do the same, and together you can bask in the glory of the dumbing down of America.
Ice Princess comes on one disk (widescreen or full screen, each sold separately), with a moderate amount of features. Don’t worry, a special double disk edition is likely to be announced after you’ve already forked over the money for this one. And possibly even a triple disk version after you’ve put yourself into debt watching girls twirl on the ice.
The first bonus feature includes five deleted scenes. There is an alternate opening that shows Casey doing math homework as a young child, with her mother looming over her. She tells her to go skate to clear her head, and we see Casey skipping around the ice in ecstasy. Two minutes later, it opens to the beginning where she is skating in current time. It’s easy to see why they ditched this opening, because it runs too long and is ultimately irrelevant. Another scene shows Casey meeting the Snowplow Sams (don’t ask me what that means), which are basically a bunch of little bratty skater kids. One of them taunts her by saying, “I started when I was 5, and that was late!” The snottiest kid of all appears in another scene involving costumes, that also hit the cutting room floor. Something tells me that little girl was not too happy when she saw the final cut of the movie.
The remaining scenes are fairly uninteresting and run under two minutes total. Casey interrogates coach Tina, asking nosey questions about her skating past like, “You were good, weren’t you? How far did you get?” Understandably, Tina ignores her, and the scene got the axe. It wasn’t necessary to show Casey being any more annoying; she supplied enough of that in the movie itself. The final dismissed scene is Tina telling Casey she wants to coach her, after a long dragged out discussion about it.
Music & More, an additional feature, contains two fairly generic music videos. The first one is for the song “Reach”, performed by Caleigh Peters. Imagine a blonde girl playing guitar interjected with scenes from the movie, and that about sums it up. Ditto for the second video, “No One”, by Aly & A.J. The only key difference I noticed is that the first one features snow, and the second one features rain. I’m not quite sure why the section is called Music & More, since there is literally nothing more than music.
Fans of the movie will enjoy a backstage Disney audio commentary presented by Michelle Trachtenberg, Hayden Panettiere, Trevor Blumas, and Kirsten Olson. It is tricky at times to differentiate the girl’s voices, but it’s not a bad commentary track for people wanting to know more about the production, and silly little stories that ensued. A few quick tidbits you may want to know without listening to the entire thing—Michelle did all her own skating minus the fancy jumps, she needed several costumes for each scene because she kept developing more muscle and outgrowing her current sizes, and they filmed the opening scene in May when it was hot as hell and the ice was turning to slush. They seem to be a fairly unpretentious group, goofing around and poking fun at each other.
Since it’s a Disney release, of course there are a lot of sneak peeks included. They run a total of ten minutes long, and feature eight different teasers and trailers. I got excited when I saw an opening for Chronicles of Narnia, before realizing it was nothing more than the title and a ‘coming soon’ promo. Not any scenes from the movie or any of that good stuff. The only trailer worth mentioning is for James Cameron’s Aliens Of The Deep, continuing his fixation on the deep blue sea.
Overall, Ice Princess is a mediocre movie with an above average set of bonus features. Help Disney pay its bills by buying this version and the twenty disk editions that will follow thereafter.