‘Ice Princess’ is gracefully charming

Kim Cattrall and Michelle Trachtenberg in 'Ice Princess'
Kim Cattrall and Michelle Trachtenberg in ‘Ice Princess’

I’m really not a fan of figure skating. Just wanted to get that out right from the start. I really have no interest in it beyond Katarina Witt. But that didn’t stop me from liking Ice Princess.

Sure, it’s a little formulaic, but I think they crafted it so well that you can go with it. The well-told story has good characters, people you can feel for that are played well. Michelle Trachtenberg doesn’t really look like a high school senior, but is believable as the impish science geek with a love for figure skating. Unlike other actresses who are clearly too attractive to be the homely nerds the movie tries to convince you they are, Trachtenberg is very pretty but in a way that works for the role.

Ice Princess is about Casey Carlyle (Trachtenberg), a straight-A senior in high school whose working to get into Harvard. As a science project, she decides to study the physics of figure skating, a sport she has loved since childhood. When she works on the project, however, she discovers a hidden talent that she never realized was there. But her attempts to pursue her dreams of becoming a professional figure skater get hampered by her academically-obsessed mother (Joan Cusack) and a succeed as all costs — both honest and dishonest — ice skating coach (Kim Cattrall).

The one thing that I liked the most about this film was Cattrall’s Tina Harwood. The movie is filled with characters that may seem bad at first glance, but turn out to be good and decent people inside. In Cattrall’s case, she isn’t necessarily a “good” person, but becomes less hostile as the film progresses. A bitter and angry woman whose past mistakes continue to haunt her, she doesn’t apologize for her actions, largely because it is the nature of the sport she loves. And on a more shallow level, Cattrall looked really beautiful in this film. More so than she has in years, I think. Perhaps it’s because she’s no so glammed up, like in Sex in the City.

Anyway, back to the movie.

If anything, I’d say that Ice Princess takes a somewhat negative look at the sport of figure skating. Most likely the result of the Kerrigan/Harding debacle, the backstabbing and unsportsman-like attitude of many of the participants is highlighted greatly throughout the film, especially when it comes to the parents of the different skaters. This really gets drilled in with the character of Nikki, played by Kirsten Olson, who you may think is nice but is actually quite frighteningly self-centered and arrogant.

Ice Princess moves at a great pace, with fine performances throughout. That is until the climactic skating competition. Much of this portion is nearly ruined by the horrible voice over performance by Michelle Kwan and Brian Boitano. Aside from the fact that much of what they say is completely unnecessary, their deliveries are so dry that is seems as if they are reading off cue cards. I get the cameos, which are often par for the course with movies like Ice Princess, but this really causes what was I think a wonderfully produced film to stumble. It’s almost like during a beautiful routine, the skater fell while trying to perform a combination spin. Ultimately it doesn’t hurt the film as a whole, but it loses points regardless.

There are a few deleted scenes, as well as a pair of music videos, along with an audio commentary featuring the four main young stars (Michelle Trachtenberg, Hayden Panettiere, Trevor Blumas, Kirsten Olson). It’s funny to listen to, but I actually got a little confused which voice was which actress.

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