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
This 'chase your dream/against all odds' fantasy is a light diversion in a Hollywood culture steeped in blockbuster mode. Ice Princess attempts to treat the issue of female achievement with both charm and weightiness. One is almost tempted (I say almost tempted because it still falls under the very successful Disney Channel formula of a challenged teenage life and happy ending) to forgive the every ready show of single motherhood as fanatical stage moms driving their kids to the fulfillment of their dreams rather than encouraging the same to seek happiness and true fulfillment.
Both Kim Cattral and Joan Cusak play mothers who pressure their daughters into career they seemed all too disappointed about not having achieved. Their daughters, in effect, are stand-ins of their own unfulfilled dreams. Casey, the true focus of the movie is played by Michelle Trachtenberg, as a Harvard-bound physics nerd who aspires to challenge all the planning and hard work to become a world class figure skater. Conversely Gen, played by Hayden Panettiere, is the Cattral prodigy who is forced into the role of apprentice skating champ - chasing her mother's Olympic dreams - the dreams lost when she lost (disqualified, as the story goes) in Sarajevo - and just wants to be normal. True to the Hollywood/Disney formula there is the perfunctory supportive and accessible 'hunk' (who just happens to be Gen's bother) in Trevor Blumas. Directed by Tim Fywell and written by Hadley Davis, Ice Princess is a story pegged on the duality of very pushy mothers in Cusak and Cattral whose daughters are being pushed in the direction that runs counter to their dreams.
Despite the movie's predictability, the Ice Princess had moments of seriousness (almost lapses, actually) in the core subject matter of passionate loyalties amidst the cutthroat competitiveness of the figure-skating world. Yes, you will be treated to the attractive figure skating but Fywell is not tempted to push it over the top. Cusack and Cattrall bring a mature complexity to their difficult roles as mothers who are trying to control the raging hormones and resultant attitude. Problematic in some areas, the movie does bring to presence the very important issues of coming of age, parental interference, and long term career planning. Unrealistic at best, to think that after all that was invested, a Harvard bound student (not to mention the Olympic bound skater) would throw it all away on a one-in-a-million chance at 'true happiness' but we can always live vicariously in this imaginary space - which is why we will continue to be attracted to movies like Ice Princess.
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