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Ice Princess (2005)

Big things happen to those who dream big.

Directed by:

Tim Fywell

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 92 minutes

US Certificate: G UK Certificate: PG

Country: United States, Canada

Ice, ice, baby! There just aren’t enough films made about figure skating – I’ve felt that way ever since seeing that documentary all those years ago where Dean made Torvill cry. Disney’s ‘Ice Princess’ might lack the fly-on-the-wall aspect of that glorious slice of TV gold, but the in-sport bitching, the tears, the figure-of-eights and the spangly costumes are all included in spades. Throw in the infectiously-charming Michelle Trachtenberg as the unassuming heroine of the piece, and you’re left with the basic ingredients of a firm family favourite in the making.

Trachtenberg – who you might know from ‘Buffy’, EuroTrip, or perhaps even both – plays Casey Carlyle, a High School physics dweeb who secretly dreams of a life on ice skates, even though her bra-burning mum (Joan Cusack) is already planning her future at Harvard. When Casey’s teacher tells her to come up with an original and personal class project, she comes up with an ingenious idea: instead of simply telling ol’ Teachy to stick his physics where even test tubes shouldn’t venture, she’ll study the figure skaters at the local rink and see if she can come up with a scientific formula for finding success in the sport.

Of course, it’s not long before she bores of watching the other skaters (among them Racing Stripes star Hayden Panettiere) prancing around the ice and decides to give it a go herself – and, much to the chagrin of pushy local coach Tina (Kim Cattrall, playing a woman who’s every bit as cold as all that ice), discovers she has the talent to go all the way.

To anyone who’s even remotely familiar with Disney’s way of doing things, it won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that this movie sticks to a long worn-out formula. From the transformation of a perennially-ignored classroom geek, to the run-up to the big end-of-film competition, it’s predictable all the way and couldn’t play it any safer if it came wrapped up in bits of polystyrene. But Trachtenberg’s bubbly, believable performance carries the project in much same way as Anne Hathaway single-handedly made The Princess Diaries a success (incidentally, both ‘Ice Princess’ and The Princess Diaries are based on stories by Meg “if it doesn’t have ‘Princess’ in the title, I didn’t write it” Cabot).

I Capture the Castle director Tim Fywell does a decent job of keeping up with all that swishing about, and the hour-and-a-half running time, much like all those skaters, positively flies by. Parents probably have a tough time these days deciding what they should and shouldn’t take their kiddies to see – not just because some movies are unsuitable for tiny eyes, but because so many of today’s so-called family films are just too painfully-dull or sickly-sweet to ever want to sit through. But regardless of the age of your young ‘uns, you won’t go far wrong with a trip to see ‘Ice Princess’.

It's Got: Pro-skater-type Michelle Kwan popping up with a cameo.

It Needs: Vanilla Ice, Ice Cube, Ice T, and.. er.. Iceman from ‘Top Gun’.

Alternatives:

The Princess Diaries

Summary

Little girls will love it. Hell, I’m not a little girl and even I thought it was alright.

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