In the 2005 Disney film, Ice Princess, Michelle Trachtenberg plays Casey Carlyle.
Casey is a brilliant high school student with a potentially wonderful future. At least that’s what her mother, Joan (Joan Cusack), has decided. As far as Joan is concerned, Casey’s destiny is to go to Harvard, become an award-winning physicist, and serve as an inspiration for young women everywhere. When Joan looks out of her kitchen window and sees that Casey is skating on a nearby frozen pond, she doesn’t praise her daughter’s athleticism. Instead, Joan taps on the window and holds up a text book. It’s time to study!
If Casey’s going to go to Harvard, she’s going to need to win a scholarship. And Harvard doesn’t just give out scholarships to anyone! I mean, I sent them a note asking for money a few years ago and I still haven’t heard back from them. So, Casey decides to prove that she’s Harvard-worthy by filming a bunch of ice skaters and showing how she can use physics to make their routines even more impressive. Or something like that…
(Look, I’ll just be honest. Science was always my worst subject in school. Quite frankly, I don’t have the attention span necessary for it and I kind of like the idea of not knowing how the universe works. I love the mystery of it all. I realize that Neil deGrasse Tyson would probably be disappointed in me but, honestly, I know more about movies than he ever will. So, I figure it all evens out.)
For her experiment, Casey tries to watch and film some other skaters, just to discover that the parents of ice skaters are insane. Not only are they convinced that Casey is some sort of spy who has been sent by a rival skater but they also put their children under a tremendous amount of pressure. They expect their kids to be champions and, even more importantly, to land the type of endorsement deals that go with being champions. Casey, on the other hand, just wants to skate.
When Tina Harwood (Kim Cattrall), a former Olympic skater, agrees to teach Casey how to skate, she is shocked to discover that Casey is a natural on the ice. Casey not only befriends Tina’s daughter, Gen (Hayden Panettiere), but she is also soon competing in regional competitions. However, Casey’s mother still doesn’t know what Casey is actually doing and Tina soon becomes paranoid that Casey will outshine Gen.
So, what happens?
Does Joan discover that Casey is more into skating than science?
Does Casey win her scholarship to Harvard or does she give it up so she can pursue her dreams?
Does Tina try to sabotage Casey?
Does Gen encourage Casey to follow her dreams?
And, most importantly, does Casey win the heart of the guy driving the Zamboni?
You probably already know the answer to all these questions. I mean, this is a Disney movie. It was rated G and, after a somewhat unsuccessful run at the box office, it found a second life on the Family Channel. Ice Princess is not exactly a revolutionary film. It doesn’t set out to rewrite the rules of sports film genre. Instead, it’s content to be a likable crowd-pleaser. Michelle Trachtenberg and Hayden Panettiere were both perfectly cast as the unlikely friends and their relationships with their respective mothers feel authentic and true. More importantly, the film features enough real-life ice skaters to lend verisimilitude to the competition scenes.
Right now, like all good people, I am insanely enthusiastic about the Winter Olympics. (For the record, I’m hoping that Team Ireland and Team Italy takes everything.) That’s one reason why I watched Ice Princess. While no one in the movie actually goes to the Olympics, it’s still a figure skating movie and I imagine that, if there had been a sequel, Casey would have been skating at the Winter Games.
Ice Princess is an entertaining and thoroughly light-weight film. There aren’t any surprises but you don’t really watch a movie like this to be surprised. In an uncertain world, there’s a definite comfort to be found in movies that are content to simply be likable and entertaining.
My advice is to watch Ice Princess as a double feature with I, Tonya.
(This trailer is Italian but you’ll get the general idea…)