Mia Thermopolis has just found out that she is the heir apparent to the throne of Genovia. With her friends Lilly and Michael Moscovitz in tow, she tries to navigate through the rest of her sixteenth year.
A high-school bookworm transforms into a swan. Brainy Casey Carlyle has never quite fit in. Caught between her fantasy of becoming a championship figure skater and her strong-willed mother, who has her on the fast track to Harvard, she can only hope to be like Nikki, Tiffany and Gen--three elite skating prodigies who are ruthlessly competing on the US National circuit (and have attitudes to match). But when Casey gets the chance to train with Gen and her coach, a disgraced former skating champion who also happens to be Gen's mother, she must dash her own mother's hopes in order to pursue her dream. Now, with only the support of Gen's teenage brother, a hunky Zamboni driver, Casey takes on the challenge of her life when she finds herself competing against the best to make it into the championship circuit and become a real "ice princess."Written by
Ice Princess was typical family fluff that was an enjoyable hour and 1/2 escape from the tensions of real life. With that in mind, it was a great success as entertainment and release from stress.
The plot is simple and "age worn" - a teen named Casey (Michelle Trachtenberg) is torn between fulfilling the dreams of her parent or following her own dreams. Nothing new here. Yet, the supporting characters of Gen Harwood (Hayden Panettiere) and her mother Tina (Kim Cattrall) also have the same situation. Tina, a skating coach, wants her daughter to become a skating champion, an achievement Tina was unable to fulfill in her own skating career. Thus, both Gen and Casey have something in common: pleasing mom or pleasing themselves.
Yet, Gen and Casey were dramatically different. Casey was a brilliant student with her eyes on Harvard while being gifted at skating, too. Meanwhile, Gen excelled only by becoming a slave to skating and sacrificing her schoolwork.
And it is with that difference that I believe Disney missed the potential. The "Casey's" of the world are few and far between, and it is difficult to relate to them: "Oh, gee. Will I go to Harvard because I'm brilliant at school? Or will I become a skating champion because I'm brilliant on the ice?" Because she is so distant from the vast majority of people, she never truly grabbed my empathy.
Gen, on the other hand, is very, very real. She is being pushed into a sport by a parent, and her social life and academics are suffering. She faces a real dilemma. Plus, she has no hope of excelling at either academics or skating. Her social life is her only escape from this vise. And Gen is endearing because she seems to have a "good heart" despite the difficulty. And how often we see kids with "good hearts" trapped by situations.
I believe that most of us can relate much better to Gen than to Casey. I would have preferred the character of Gen to be the focus of the story with Casey's character in the supporting role. It would be tougher, grittier, and more meaningful to the audience.
Yeah, we all cheered for Casey, but I was cheering for Gen even more.
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