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2 items from 2005

Peet, Cusack land in 'Martian'

20 April 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Amanda Peet has signed on to star opposite John Cusack in New Line Cinema's The Martian Child. Joan Cusack also is joining the cast. Menno Meyjes is directing Martian, which is based on a short story from sci-fi author David Gerrold. The script by Jonathan Tolins and Seth Bass is described as an unusual father-son relationship, and a cross between Parenthood and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. John Cusack plays a man who, after the death of his wife, adopts a 7-year-old who believes he's from Mars. Peet will play Harlee, the best friend of the man's deceased wife. Joan Cusack will play the sister to her real-life brother's character. »

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Ice Princess

20 April 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

A teen inspirational dramedy about a high school physics nerd who follows her dream of becoming a figure skater, "Ice Princess" proves that it's still possible to teach an old formula a few new tricks.

Thanks to an insightful script (credited to Hadley Davis), a light but assured directorial touch (by England's Tim Fywell) and especially to a delightful title performance by Michelle Trachtenberg, this Cinderella tale of female empowerment remains engaging while not always having pretty things to say about mother-daughter dynamics and competitive sports.

The Disney picture should handily score a direct hit to its targeted young female demographic as well as striking a chord with their big sisters, moms and aunts.

Making the klutz to lutz transition with crowd-pleasing appeal is Trachtenberg's Casey Carlyle, a brainy but unpopular high school student whose academic, single mom (the always splendid Joan Cusack) envisions a Harvard education for her daughter.

But when a science class report on the physical dynamics of figure skating provides Casey with a rink-side view into the rhinestone-studded world of Axels and Salchows, she decides to pursue a secret childhood fantasy.

That is, if she's able to survive Tina Harwood (Kim Cattrall), a tough-as-nails coach and former ice princess herself, not to mention fiercely determined skater mom to Gen (Hayden Panettiere), a championship contender who'd rather live the life of an average teenager.

Helping through those inevitable tough patches is Gen's sympathetic brother, Teddy (Trevor Blumas), who serves as Casey's handsome prince riding in on a trusty Zamboni.

In short, "Ice Princess" doesn't break a sweat trying to reinvent the wheel, but it goes to show how effective the original model can be when there are skilled operators involved.

Fywell, who made his feature directorial debut with "I Capture the Castle", keeps the elements running smoothly and efficiently, working from a knowing script by "Dawson's Creek" and "Spin City" writer Davis, who also shares story credit with "The Princess Diaries" author Meg Cabot.

Key to the success of the film is the tricky dynamic among Trachtenberg, Cusack and Cattrall that adroitly manages to avoid falling into one-dimensional good vs. evil stereotypes.

Also helping to keep things real is the decision to cast as many professional skaters as possible in the roles of Casey's contemporaries, with Kirsten Olson, Juliana Cannarozzo and Jocelyn Lai proving to be as confident in front of the camera as they are on the ice.

Technical contributions are equally well-executed, highlighted by cinematographer David Hennings' ("Blue Crush") propulsive camera work and choreographer Anne Fletcher's colorful, far-from-routine routines.


Buena Vista

A Walt Disney Pictures presentation

Credits: Director: Tim Fywell; Screenwriter: Hadley Davis; Story: Meg Cabot, Hadley Davis; Producer: Bridget Johnson; Executive producer: William W. Wilson III; Director of photography: David Hennings; Production designer: Lester Cohen; Editor: Janice Hampton; Costume designer: Michael Dennison; Music: Christophe Beck. Cast: Joan Carlyle: Joan Cusack; Tina Harwood: Kim Cattrall; Casey Carlyle: Michelle Trachtenberg; Gen Harwood: Hayden Panettiere; Teddy Harwood: Trevor Blumas; Nikki: Kirsten Olson; Nikki's Mom: Connie Ray; Zoey: Juliana Cannarozzo; Tiffany: Jocelyn Lai.

MPAA rating G, running time 98 minutes.


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