‘Princess’ glides along the surface
In light of the Tonya Harding scandal – which revealed the ugly side of graceful figure skaters – I wondered how producers would pull off creating a movie about skating and hold onto a G rating.But to my delight, “Ice Princess” shows the edgier side of skating, complete with two-faced skaters and cutthroat moms.Only that’s where a realistic portrayal of skating ends and a ridiculous dream story begins.Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg) studies skaters’ jumps and spins to complete a physics project she hopes will win her a scholarship to Harvard. To add personal flair to the project, she takes skating lessons and falls in love with the sport. Within weeks she progresses from stroking to spinning and landing double toe loops, all because of her mathematical calculations.”Ice Princess” glides along with the necessary elements of formulaic sports movies infused with inspiration: The main character has a dream. She encounters an obstacle. A love interest enters the picture. She overcomes the obstacle. The crowd cheers.If you’re a skater or an ex-skater like me, you might give the movie three and a half stars. If you’re not, subtract at least a star.The thing is, while “Ice Princess” skates along the surface with sparkly costumes and rousing routines, it doesn’t jump into the heart of a passionate struggle; it relies on a shopworn formula, like an elementary math problem.My favorite girlie inspirational movies range from “Ice Castles” to “Save the Last Dance.” In “Ice Castles,” the main character loses her vision – literally – after a serious accident prevents her from high-level competition. In “Save the Last Dance,” the main character loses her passion for dancing after her mother dies, and it takes a different cultural experience to rouse her.”Ice Princess” relies on audiences relating to an unpopular girl to create tension, then follows it up with a nasty skating mom and Casey’s biological mom, a raging feminist who opposes her daughter wearing short skirts and engaging in any distraction from Harvard. The popular girls accept Casey as easily as she lands her doubles, so we never fully buy into her struggle; hence, her ultimate victory falls flat.
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