Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Michelle Trachtenberg, Joan Cusack, Hayden Panettiere, Kim Cattrall, Trevor Blumas
Director: Tim Fywell
Release Date: 18 March 2005
Length: 98 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: TV
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
“In this new take on the traditional “ugly duckling turns into a swan” tale, Casey (Michelle Trachtenberg), a smart high school student whose mother (Joan Cusack) has her eyes set on Harvard, longs to become a figure skater like Gen (Hayden Panettiere), a beautiful prodigy who was born on the ice. Casey’s invited to train with Gen and her mother (Kim Cattrall), but soon she must choose her destiny: Should she be an ice princess or a collegiate?” — Netflix.com
This is another Disney movie that is specifically targeted at a tween and teen girl demographic. They are very successful at making movies like these and they are usually upbeat, cute and funny. This one repeats Disney‘s successful formula and is actually one of the better movies put out by Disney of this type. Firstly, the acting is better in this film than in most of the Disney Channel fare, which is notable as it is typically the poor acting that drags the other movies down, in my opinion. Secondly, there is an actual plot that makes the movie more interesting and fun to watch. I was happy to see that one of my favorite young adult authors, Meg Cabot, had a hand in writing the screenplay. Of course, the plot is pretty far-fetched, but it plays into every young girl’s fantasy of discovering that they are good at such a romanticized sport. Who doesn’t want to dream about suddenly becoming one of the most talented, up-and-coming figure skaters and having a chance at making the Olympic team?! Of course, this could not happen with the way that the sport is set up today, but that is beside the point – this is a fantasy in movie form, right? That is not to say that they completely glamorize the sport of ice skating like most movies do, in fact, they purposefully show some of the backstabbing, pitfalls, and shady sides of the sport. I appreciated some of the reality checks that they put into place in this movie. It doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the sport of ice skating, instead it makes me respect those athletes who manage to claw their way to the top even more.
I really enjoyed the cast in this movie. The lead girl (Michelle Trachtenberg) was cute, but I really liked the other 3 skaters more. Hayden Panettiere plays a great villainess/best friend and the other 2 “villainesses” (Kirsten Olson & Jocelyn Lai) are as funny as they are catty. The writers used ice skating stereotypes to great effect in this movie and this made it even funnier than I expected it to be. I didn’t really buy the romance between the two leads, but that is beside the point. Joan Cusack was terrific as Michelle Trachtenberg‘s mother, who wants her daughter to have all of the chances and dreams that she never got to have. I envied the main character because she was able to find 2 things that she was really successful and naturally talented at. This is rare and, the older I get, the more I realize how fortunate teens are who find a natural talent that they can work and nurture when they are young because you just don’t find talents like this when you are older. That is not to say that there are a lot of girls out there who will be good at both physics and ice skating, but, hey, a girl can dream, right?!
If you have some teen or tween girls at home, then this is a good, clean rental to select for family night or for a slumber party. With a couple of romances, cute teen boys, some good, old-fashioned catfights, and the beautiful sport of ice skating (complete with cameos by lead ice skaters such as Michelle Kwan and Brian Boitano), this is a surefire hit for young girls who like ice skating.
There is a scene with an unsupervised party, some verbal put downs and arguments, jealousy, backstabbing, sabotage and other scenes of teen angst. Recommended for ages 7 and up.