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Director Donald Wrye also penned this tearjerker concoction, a refugee from "The Other Side of the Mountain" school of script-writing. One of those "you can overcome any obstacle" dramas wherein a pretty (though not plucky) heroine finds success and love despite an incredible hardship. Real-life figure skater Lynn-Holly Johnson plays a recently blinded young woman who must be coaxed back onto the ice by boyfriend Robby Benson (who berates her like a cruel taskmaster when she initially balks). Baleful, heavy-handed treatment of the kind of material television was churning out on a regular basis in 1978 (and still today!). Johnson is attractive, and the theme song "Looking Through the Eyes of Love" is memorable, but otherwise "Ice Castles" is about as emotionally involving as a bad night at the Ice Capades. *1/2 from ****
Movies are like people, some of 'em.
You'll encounter some that are like this, so trivial, so unoriginal, so mawkishly dumb that you'll want to stab your eyes. And yet it will have a center -- like this -- that is so appealing you cannot avoid the inner seduction.
The story is completely ordinary and obnoxious. The drama of a soul as a sports competition; characters dragged out of high school cribsheets. Stuff that just makes no sense, even in a fantasy. A completely incoherent rhythm.
The seduction is from the skating. Our sweet young midwestern princess this time is an ice skater. Instead of getting an appealing actress and somehow handling the skating with doubles, they used a real skater. Sure, she's a poor actress, but no less so than the pros involved here. The point is that when she skates, the reality of it is inherited by the story and all of the clunky machinery seems more real by association.
Her face is plain and uninteresting, but that's just an artifact of not knowing how to act, to give us a being. But that's not true at all when we see her move, even at times when she is not moving on the ice. Skaters are actors in a grand theatrical tradition. The "scoring" keeps getting adjusted to make it more and more appealing to audiences, to improve the business of show. And our girl here is fully saturated in the thing.
What makes this different than watching a sports competition? Because those girls and women really are competing, a grueling, joyless enterprise of questionable worth to society. Here, we have the camera placed in very clever and effective places. We have the freedom to have innocent costumes and personal projection. And we have the freedom of our dancer to just dance in most pleasing way her team can devise.
There's a "sex" scene of sorts. No nudity at all. Our girl is in front of a mirror with a cotton blouse and no bra, lightly touching herself. Her slight body under, a couple years later presented as a Bond girl.
An unscrupulous TeeVee personality has been making her a star in a manner within the story very similar to the stance of the movie itself. He is the trainer's lover. With no explanation whatever, he enters and is accepted as our girl's lover.
It is a tender scene in how she moves, with implied violence in the sexual voyeurism. (The plot revolves around her losing her sight and rediscovering her old boyfriend.) If the Olympics is date rape, movies like this are a seduction where money changes hands. I prefer the latter.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
The first time me and my hubby Rick sat down to watch this movie, let me just say that sparks were flying all over the place! The movie is a roller coaster of emotions and even when I'm in over my head at the Fashion Bug, thinking of this movie sends happy shivers running up and down my spine! If ever you need cheering up and I'm not around to put a :-) on your face, pop this movie in your VCR and take a ride to the country they call Romance!!!
This is a movie that leaves you wondering what it would have been in
the hands of competent talent.
The story is contrived, the acting horrid, and I'm still wondering how Robbie Benson ever had such a following. Lynn Holly Johnson is barely capable, somewhat nice looking, but does little with the material given her. The only reason she doesn't stick out like a sore thumb for her poor performance is that the cast was all thumbs as well, and sore thumbs at that.
That said, I still tune in on cable when I see this movie because the story is a can't-miss (even this group couldn't mess it up): a late-starting figure-skater who begins to catch up to her more experienced peers goes blind while practicing, thus ending her career aspirations for the only thing she's ever done well in her life. From there, the usual assortment of skeptics and cheerleaders assume their usual positions, complete with predictable plot twists and a classic "chick flick" climax.
I did not see this movie when it first came out, but having seen it, I now have an appreciation for what a female would have to go through if she found herself held captive through a showing of "Road House."
I could have done without some of the simpering-Iowa-farm-girl stuff from
Lynn-Holly Johnson here. Yes, I know, I'm cold and heartless. However,
Johnson seems too fragile to be champion material in her interpretation of
the role of Alexis Winston (is THIS the movie responsible for the current
glut of little Alexises born since 1979? Gee, thanks ...
Robby Benson plays the usual amiable dork role he made so famous in the seventies. I was a squealing junior-high student during his reign and have yet to figure out why we thought he was so cute. I think I forgot about him once I got a look at Parker Stevenson.
Anyhoo ... this film is one cliche from beginning to end, but the person who says so will be labeled an unromantic, mean ninny by 95% of the human race, so you didn't hear it from me. The movie was okay. I only wanted to hurl through about 60 percent of it, and 50 percent of that was the result of the subplot in which sweet-sixteen Alexis is wooed by the television reporter covering the story of her meteoric rise to fame. Ah, those golden days of yore, before the wide use of the term "jailbait."
So go ahead ... see it ... but don't say I didn't warn you.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ok, here's my problem with this movie. Cool story, really beautiful blonde wholesome Ice skater. Falls on the ice and goes blind. Boyfriend all of a sudden becomes superman and helps her and him become champion pairs skaters. All of this with her blind. They win, really cool. That would have been the perfect ending right then and there. BUT... HE DIES IN A PLANE CRASH??? What's up with that. Killed the whole film. Even if it is that dorkey Robbie Benson.
Ah, but what can I say? Here's a good-hearted fairy tale full of innocence,
wonder and triumph over adversity. "Ice Castles" is a movie I can and do
watch again and again, and never grow the slightest bit sick of. A timeless
tale, told in a clear-eyed, gentle and non-manipulative style, without the
slightest bit of pretense, against a gorgeous snow-and-ice-covered
background (brings back all the feelings of Christmas season as a child).
In a sense, this is the film "Edward Scissorhands" tried to be and failed
miserably. Outstanding acting all around, especially from Tom Skerritt and
Colleen Dewhurst. Lynn-Holly Johnson is amazing as a first-time role
(although I think they could have done better than Robby Benson as her love
interest), and the musical score is fabulous. This is really the best
cinematic telling of the age-old story of triumph of the human spirit over
adversity that I've ever seen. If you aren't a cynic, please give it a
chance and rent a copy at your local video store. There isn't a single
thing in this rated PG movie that isn't appropriate for kids of any age to
see (only a bit of very vague sexual innuendo that children are likely to
I'm hard-pressed to pick between this and "Awakenings" (yet another "triumph over adversity" tale) as my all-time favorite films (although I would give "Ice Castles" the slight edge), with "Top Gun" and "American Beauty" coming in as distant thirds. Some of you may think I'm nuts (especially putting "Top Gun" in my top four favorite films -- that one I can't explain at all), but I'm just a sucker for these kinds of films -- movies that emphasize values that never change -- love of family, the trials we all go through (death, injury, et al.), the incredible power of the human spirit to overcome all of it and emerge victorious. It really pleases me to see that 20% of viewers rated this movie 10/10, and I'm even more pleased to add my own rating of 10/10 for "Ice Castles." Hollywood doesn't make movies like this anymore (the closest recent film I've seen is "What Dreams May Come," a great tearjerker mostly panned by critics and audiences alike) -- today's audiences are mostly too cynical and are looking for special effects and violent action. This one is in the tradition of "Brian's Song" -- if you liked that made-for-TV film, you'll love "Ice Castles."
I'd love to remake this would-be-weepie & have Lynn Holly-Johnson skate into walls. That way at least this crap would be intentionally funny instead of being a camp classic like PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, VALLEY OF THE DOLLS & MOMMIE DEAREST. This LOVE STORY clone wanted to be 1978's Disease/Affliction Movie Of The Year but it was so dopey & overwrought that even the group of high school girls sitting in front of me in the theatre (back in 1978) laughed uncontrollably at the absurd melodrama. A simpering whiner goes blind & somehow the fey voice of Robbie Benson gives her the courage to compete again. Feh! The box office failure of this yellow snowball & the jaw dropping awful WALK PROUD saved American cinema from the further torture of another Robby Benson performance. The fact that this pile of crap made it onto DVD while great films from the 1970s like PROVIDENCE still remain in limbo is a sure sign that God has a sick sense of humor (& enjoys a few unintentional laughs like the rest of us!).
Possible the most boring movie I have ever sat through. I saw it at the theatre with a woman I was dating at the time and had I not been there with her, this movie would have the distinction of being the only movie I ever walked out on, simply because it bored me to tears. There have been many love stories and so called "chick flicks" that I have enjoyed, this was not one of them.
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