Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Ice Princess

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids, Teens, Families
Comedy, Romance, Sports
1 hr. 32 min.
Year of Release:
Featuring: Michelle Trachtenberg, Joan Cusack, Kim Cattrall, Hayden Panettiere, Trevor Blumas
Director: Tim Fywell
Producer: Bridget Johnson
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
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Copyright, Walt Disney Pictures
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Big things happen to those who dream big.

Second Corinthians says “I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; my joy knows no bounds.” What wonderful words of support! I found this spirit within the composition of “Ice Princess” which brought a formula story to life in an unexpected way. Disney is starting out the summer movie forum with an enchanting up-beat winner in the follow-your-dreams department.

Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg—“Harriet the Spy”) best known in her high school as an unpopular physics geek, has to come up with an idea for her upcoming entrance exam for her Harvard scholarship interview. Single mom (Joan Cusack doing a great job akin to “Raising Helen”) is devoted to her daughter’s success and to her own feminist ideals. She envisions a life for Casey as a Harvard grad and scientist. A dream of her own (never accomplished), although she does a fine job as a Literature Professor. Casey’s physics teacher spurs Casey to come up with a unique project for the college admissions committee.

Enter Gen Harwood (Hayden Panettiere whom you may remember from “Racing Stripes”) the popular blonde who doesn’t notice Casey exists. It isn’t that she doesn’t care, as in most teen flicks, but that she is being pushed by her over-powering ice skater/coach Mom into the championships and on to the Olympics themselves. Every spare moment in Gen’s young life is spent practicing to reach a goal which most strongly belongs to her mother and not to Gen.

Tina Harwood (Emmy-winner Kim Cattrall) owns the local ice skating rink and heads the Harwood Skating Club. She is a former skating champion with a clouded past as to why she was disqualified at Sarajevo, early in her career. She is obviously a flinty, no-nonsense kind of woman with definite goals in mind. The success of the story is the tricky dynamic among Trachtenberg, Cusack and Cattrall that gratefully manages to avoid falling into one-dimensional good vs. evil stereotypes.

Casey decides upon the unusual theme of the dynamics involved in the function of ice skating as a physics formula. She spends more and more of her personal time at the rink, compiling and documenting data for her Harvard committee interview. What she doesn’t expect is how much she loves ice skating herself. She knows this would be considered a foolish whim by her scholastically oriented mother, but the spark has been ignited within Casey. Her heart is drawn to the fluidity and grace.

Tina Harwood and daughter Gen soon realize Casey is not only the top physics student in her school, but she’s also an ice skating prodigy.

Raw talent, however, is not enough Tina tells Casey—in no uncertain terms. It takes more than commitment, talent and money, “You have to want it more than anything else. Winners make sacrifices!” Tina knows this from personal experience, and secretly wishes her daughter had that sort of natural instinct to skate. Tina agrees to train and coach Casey for the regionals.

Gen and Casey form a sisterly bond, even though Gen’s first scene sets her up as the popular snob and Gen’s brother Teddy (Disney newcomer Trevor Blumas) forms more of a brotherly attachment to the sweet, unassuming Casey. Together the girls help each other figure out what they really want to do with their lives.

These characters become refreshingly real, and it is at this point “Ice Princess” turns from formula, teen story to subtly inspiring, focusing not on mean-spiritedness, but instead on these girls getting along and helping one another accomplish their goals. Not even the competitive nature of some of the other ice skaters keeps Casey off the ice.

Michelle Trachtenberg brings a believable, shy spirit to Casey, the aspiring scientist/skater. This is not a classic “makeover movie.” Casey gets a bit of a touch-up with some eye-liner and an outfit with some sequins, but she is no Cinderella who is transformed with a wand. She studies hard, takes a part-time job to play for her expenses, and spends hours practicing. Teddy admires her intelligence and dedication, before the eye-liner and sparkles. But the nicest surprise is that after a spate of “mean girl” movies, this one gives us a character in Gen who competes with Casey, but remains honest, loyal, and supportive.

What we set as goals are worthy of our time and effort. But, to reach the dreams we have planned doesn’t rely on some inner power. Goals are not accomplished on our own. It’s who we have around us giving us hope and spurring us on, pushing and loving us that is a force and fuel for success.

The girls eventually take the courage to follow their own dreams, not those of their mother’s. Gen finds she likes school and is compelled to succeed scholastically. Casey is able to relate to her disapproving Mother that there is nothing wrong with feeling graceful, beautiful and strong. The Moms show unconditional love and show a real adult attitude by accepting their daughter’s decisions. As Tina says “…passion makes people go on to do exceptional things.” This Disney tale of female empowerment remains engaging while having positive things to say about mother-daughter dynamics and competitive sports.

As you may guess, all turns out great for everyone at the end of “Ice Princess,” but it isn’t the typical way to tell the story, and the characters are developed enough to make you believe them.

Also helping to keep things real is the decision to cast as many professional skaters as possible in the roles of Casey’s contemporaries, with Kirsten Olson, Juliana Cannarozzo and Jocelyn Lai proving to be as confident in front of the camera as they are on the ice. The surprise is that Michelle Trachtenberg seems to be able to skate, too. That didn’t look like a double on the ice, although Variety has reported that “Four different skaters sub for Trachtenberg in the more difficult performances.”

The rating of G is perfect. I would feel confident allowing my 10 to 16 year old kids to see “Ice Princess.” There is some mild language (“that pretty much blew”) and a kiss between Casey and Teddy. There is a skating costume that appears to show more chest than some Christian parents will think appropriate for a teenager girl and a brief shot of a bloody, painful-looking wound.

God has given us all gifts we can use, not to just feed our own desires for fulfillment, but to serve Him. God is merciful and gracious, and (above all else) He is for us—and not against us (see Jacob’s story in Genesis 28:15). Discouragement can hinder us in what God wants for us. Whenever we face discouragement we need to remember that God is always working on our behalf, that no matter how unsure our story is, it isn’t over—the end of the matter is better than the beginning. Be patient. God is using today’s difficulties to strengthen you for tomorrow. God is always working for you, and your future is His. He may change the places you are going to, but whatever comes down the path, whenever problems or dilemmas face you, just do what’s right. Maybe no one else is doing what’s right. You should be the honest one—take a stand for what’s true.

Parents should encourage their kids to concentrate on what God wants for them. Dwell on God’s promises, these are also their dreams to accomplish. Don’t let anyone turn them from their dreams and goals by sowing seeds of discouragement. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

I couldn’t help but think of these well known Disney lyrics as I left the theater:

When you wish upon a star,
makes no difference who you are.
Anything your heart desires will come to you,
if your heart is in your dreams,
no request is too extreme.
When you wish upon a star as dreamers do.

Yet there is One higher who looks out for you and your dreams. “Everyone who is a child of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4). Rise above the level of the usual wisher upon the stars and depend on God who has given you your gift. Whatever talent you possess comes from Him. If I may change the last verse a bit:

Like a bolt out of the blue,
GOD steps in and sees you thru.
your dreams come true!
Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—My husband and I took our 3 children (9 and 7yo girls and 3yo boy) to see this new release today. The movie is a delightful story: geek begins investigating ice skating (which she loves) and finds out that, with her hidden talent and physics knowledge along with some hard work, she can be a competitive ice skater. The story line, while a bit unreal, was refreshingly positive and pure.

The struggles between mothers and daughters is realistic—we all want to right our wrongs in their lives but must learn to “take our hands off” and let them be their own individuals. Acting was okay—young actors gaining experience.

The star’s skating was most impressive if you think that she hadn’t been on the ice until 8 months before production began. The only “shockers” that might offend was a little cleavage on Michelle Kwan and on the star; however, we all know that ice skaters don’t wear turtlenecks and long johns!

My only “complaint” about the movie would be the poor camera work in some of the up-close pictures—a little too “rough” for a movie, but then, it was made for a “new generation,” and that seems to be the trend for camera work. (I don’t like the tops of heads cut off, the shaking of the camera, etc.) The up-close shots of the skaters on the ice were well-done, and the blurring of the distance shots of stuntmen (stuntgirls?) for emotional touch were fine. My 3 year old boy wasn’t terribly interested, and my husband said, “Definitely a girl movie” but said daddies could go to it with their daughters.

Thank you, Disney, for repeating your “Princess Diaries” move and making something that we can enjoy with our daughters and never have to worry about covering their eyes or ears. We’ll go again—even if it does cost $7-$10 per ticket. It was worth it to see the shining eyes of my daughters when we left the theatre as they dreamed of “what could be.”
My Ratings: Good/3½
—Carie L., age 35
Positive—I was quite surprised when I saw this movie in a positive way. I took 4-8 year old girls, a 5 year old and 17 year old girl to this movie and everyone enjoyed it. Although the movie was predictable, it was enjoyable. I found nothing objectionable in the movie. One scene in the movie was a teenage party, I didn’t see any drinking, smoking, sex I was pretty amazed. The one noticed absence in the movie was there were no fathers around for the movies main characters, nor were they even mentioned.
My Ratings: Good/4
—B Edward, age 45
Positive—Great movie for the whole family, it shows parents how we sometimes put our own interest in front of our children’s passions.
My Ratings: Excellent!/5
—John Talley, age 41
Positive—I was surprised at how sweet and quality-made this film was, including the depth and pathos. The skating and costuming were just gorgeous and the acting was great; Joan Cusack was perfect as the mom AND a teacher, demonstrating her character’s profession even with her hand movements and expressions when she spoke to Casey. I was happy to see Kim Cattrall in such a different role and she aced it; Trachtenburg has also proven her versatile talent more than once.

There were just a few grating scenes, like Michelle Kwan and the feminine male broadcaster’s over-dramatic praise of Casey’s performance, practically falling over her skating and, in my mind, interrupting a lovely musical number and skating performance. Overall, though, my stingy initial dismissal of the film was erased. And honoring our parents does not mean living a life we don’t want, since another commenter mentioned this commandment.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jennifer, age 27 (USA)
Negative—I didn’t go to this 100% willingly, but for the sake of family, I went. I must say, I don’t know why my family members liked it so much. I thought the movie was just plain boring, and I thought the acting was terrible. Besides that, I notice a prevalent theme of disobedience in movies like this. The parent is always portrayed in a negative light, and the kid is always encouraged to break away from them. Like in this movie, the kid is encouraged to follow a dream, even when her mother says no. And is she punished for her disobedience? The answer is a resounding “no.” She’s instead rewared for it, and movies like this just encourage the same behavoir: if you dream it, pursue it no matter who stands in your way. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe there’s something about honoring your father and mother. So, unless you want your kids to grow up thinking they don’t have to listen to you, skip this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Jeff, age 23
Comments from young people
Positive—This movie was VERY good. It’s a movie that the whole family can see. There was no bad language or other bad content. PLUS, it had a very nice message!
My Ratings: Good/5
—Nyssa, age 13
Positive—Ice Princess is a sweet movie with a inspiring message about following your dreams. I asked a couple friends to go see it with me after reading some rev. We all decided it had it’s cheesy side to it but we couldn’t expect not to have that possibility with it being a Disney and G rating! I think their was a bit more of an emphasis on guys and girls than needed be, especially where her friend Gen is concerned. The party was not bad but it almost seemed when you were watching it like everyone their was their to flirt. Casey’s actions while she is their prove that she is not interested though and she finds a friend in Teddy who knows she is not comfortable in that setting.

One thing that was sort of annoying was that it almost seemed as if Disney tried to make some of the Ice outfits rather immodest because they had an accuse,I was watching going man if she wasn’t ice skating this movie would need to be rated higher. You don’t need to have a low cut dress in order to skate! Gen kisses boys 2 times besides the one the rev. says Casey and Teddy have. I think an adult said that their was no mention of fathers and I agree that it would have been good to have their roles in it as well seeming how they are just as important. However, I am mentioning the negatives so now that you know most of them go to the theater to see all the positives! It was fun to see, and as I said inspiring!
My Ratings: Better than Average/4
—Cassia, age 15
Positive—I loved this movie! I thought it was a very morally sound movie. I didn’t find anything offensive. Hollywood should make more movies like this one.
My Ratings: Good/4
—Shannon, age 15
Positive—Just like kids, “The Ice Princess” is both about growing up as well as the growing up of juvenile/youth movies. “The Ice Princess” dances rings around most figure skating movies because perhaps the movie industry is growing up. The focus on skating, on relationships is great, and there are some nice skating shots as well as some surprise cameos. Instead of the usual comedy romance genre as in “The Cutting Edge,” a standard of such movies, “The Ice Princess” actually focuses on the biting, raw, under the surface issues surrounding young girls and their mothers today. Without stereotypes, without the usual hype, this movie successfully avoids the juvenile movie traps and plays it both softer of the stereotypes and more on the real and the harsher edges of drama in this movie. This an entertaining, educational, well done movie about going for one’s potential, about dreams lost and hoped for, about conflict and doubt, about mothers and daughters, about rivalry and sharing. One of the best girl movies this year and last year. Highly recommended. Eight out of Ten Stars.
My Ratings: Average/4
—Sandy Trap, age 17
Positive—This movie was really good! I took my younger sister to see it and I ended up really liking it too. It was completely appropriate with nothing offensive. It was light and we left the theater feeling good. I would recomend this movie for anyone.
My Ratings: Good/4½
—Amber, age 16
Positive—This was an awesome movie. I loved it.
My Ratings: Excellent/5
—Cara Champlin, age 11
Positive—…overall I thought it was an OK movie. Kaci Carlyle, the main character, is very smart and positive and has high hopes for the future. The supposedly popular girl, played by Hayden Panatierre, is all of a sudden nice to Kaci because they now skate at the same rink. (that’s something we don’t see all the time) I give it four stars because although the skating was good and and actors did well, there wasn’t much action for teens. The movie isn’t so objectional, maybe a few very (very) mild concerns, but this is a practically harmless movie from Disney.
My Ratings: Better than Average/4
—Danae, age 13