ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  tim fywell

RATED  -  g

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  92 minutes

RELEASED  -  18 march 2005

DISTRIBUTOR  -  walt disney pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  ice princess

ice princess - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from ice princess at

buy the dvd from ice princess at

a high-school bookworm is caught between her fantasy of becoming a championship figure skater and her strong-willed mother.

olympic ice skater michelle kwan has a cameo in this film alongside fellow skater bryan boitano.


picture from ice princess

picture from ice princess

picture from ice princess

picture from ice princess

picture from ice princess

picture from ice princess


two out of four possible stars

Live action movies that receive G ratings from the MPAA (that's "Motion Pictures Association of America") are usually made with a very specific demographic in mind: children. Though the subject matter might attract a certain portion within this group (a "Barney and Friends" movie would probably aim for two-year-olds whereas something like 2002's The Rookie aims much older), the movie usually brings in the youngest of audiences. Of course, very few young children attend movies without a parent or guardian and so filmmakers are assured of that additional unwilling older moviegoer buying a ticket simply for their children's enjoyment.

And while Ice Princess is far from being a movie that aims its charms at all but the youngest of moviegoers, the rather simple dialogue and lack of appreciable conflict within the main character's psyche makes much of the film a tepid experience. Bearing much resemblance to movie created specifically for a television presentation, Ice tries to cover up its humble stature by infusing the movie with a loud pop-influenced soundtrack. But the expected Disney life "lesson" delivered to the audience might have been better appreciated as a Sunday night movie special on the Disney-owned network of ABC.

And in considering the idea of the lesson presented in this film, should parents be worried that the overall theme of the film, that you should go for dreams while you've got the chance, is somewhat hidden by the idea that little girls would be better occupied by a skimpy ice skating costume than a heavy math textbook? The story presents the idea of a bookworm who learns to appreciate the fluffier side of life while still making time for her academic future and to the filmmakers' credit, Casey Carlyle is presented as a very intelligent girl, capable of using her knowledge of physics to improve her skating.

But that's not what Ice Princess leaves audiences believing. You've either got to give up books completely and go the route of athletics or you're going to have to spend time hitting the books. That nice balance of brains and brawn (or in this story's case, brains and ice skating) that is woven into the film's plot early on is abandoned later in the film in favor of presenting the idea that it's fine to go for your dreams, but you'd better not think of getting to eat your cake, too. But the direction the filmmakers have taken their Disney Lesson probably isn't something that requires or deserves such in-depth analyzing.

After all, the film is meant only to be a fluffy, whipped up pastry of an experience that wouldn't hold water under too much scrutiny of its plot or thematic intentions. Girl feels trapped as a physics maven. Girl finds ice skating to fill the void. Girl abandons college prospects for life on ice. Simple plot and a simple presentation. It is perhaps then fortunate for viewers that ice princess Casey Carlyle is played by Michelle Trachtenberg, an actress as yet untested in the waters of adult film, but who has made a successful leap from roles as a child star to that of a young actress.

Her progression from films like Harriet the Spy to more mature fodder like the recent Eurotrip has appeared a smooth journey for Trachtenberg and in her usually enthusiastic roles, she seems unencumbered by impending adulthood, yet possessed of sufficient maturity to allow for some appreciation from older audiences. And although the audience best served by her performance in Ice Princess will be the youngest of teenagers, her effort is still an earnest one, her years of feature film experience allowing her to find a sufficient emotional depth through her character.

Trachtenberg is joined in her effusive efforts by a well cast group of actors, with Joan Cusack's appearance as her mother, "Joan," standing out as one of the highlights. And as a cut-throat ice skating coach, Kim Cattrall also puts more effort into her character's performance than the movie might have otherwise deserved. Additional supporting performances from young actors such as Kirsten Olson and Hayden Panettiere (playing rival ice skaters) are amusing, with Connie Ray playing a close to hilariously neurotic stage mother to Olsen's fanatical pint-sized ice queen.

Beyond the objections more alert viewers might have toward the film's idea that abandoning one's studies can lead to a rewarding life, Ice Princess has at its heart a rather strange protagonist. If one were to look only at the plot of the film, it would seem that Trachtenberg's character must deal with a host of problems that fall her way. And this is exactly what should happen to the protagonist of a film. But Casey Carlyle herself doesn't go through any real sort of emotional transformation. She's a bubbly, honest, hardworking kid at the beginning of the film and likewise, is the same bubbly, honest, hardworking kid by the end of the story.

It's not enough to simply throw obstacles in front of a main character. There's got to be something deeper that changes inside her for the film to really take an emotional hold on the audience. The tepid character "arch" presented in this film is probably enough to satisfy the intended audience, but for viewers expecting something more than a light, fluffy diversion, this film isn't one you should make extra effort to view unless you're a particular fan of one of the older actors like Kim Cattrall or Joan Cusack. Ice Princess is a very G-rated film that should attract and satisfy well young teens, but that will leave older members wondering when the closing credits are due to roll.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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