Ice Princess (2005) **
Directed by Tim Fywell. Written by (Ms) Hadley Davis from a story by Meg Cabot & Davis. Photography, David Hennings. Editing,,Janice Hampton. Production design, Lester Cohen. Music, Christopher Beck. Producer, Bridget Johnson. A Walt Disney release, 98 minutes. Rated G. Cast: Michelle Trachtenberg (Casey Carlyle), Kim Cattrall (Tina Harwood), Joan Cusack (Joan Carlyle), Trevor Blumas (Teddy Harwood), Michelle Kwan (herself), et al.
It's about ice-skating, a sport that became a popular new Hollywood genre in the 1930s and 1940s, when Sonja Henie (a Norwegian), from her early teens on, won her first (of three) Olympic Gold. She was also a 10-time World Champion. Her films guaranteed her becoming a household name.
The appeal of ICE PRINCESS, like that of the Sonja Henie flicks, does come from its story but from the last sections where there is some solid appeal in the young women's actual competition. Otherwise there's not much to chew on.
Also, what sent me to the theatre was the casting of Joan Cusack. I am a devoted fan of any performers named Cusack, starting with the great Cyril Cusack (1910-1993.) He was born in Durban (South Africa) but soon moved to Ireland where he became a child-actor. Then, in Ireland, England and other countries he appeared in dozens of plays, films and TV items --many of them of major importance. While neither handsome nor imposing, Cyril was memorable in role after role. To mention just one, he played the Fire Chief in Truffaut's "Fahrenheit 451. " Note that of Cyril's six children, most became actors too.
I am also a major fan of the American Cusacks, whom my research does not connect with Cyril. That's another tribe of many thespians. By far the two best-known ones are John Cusack and his sister Joan Cusack (both born in Evanston, Illinois.) To miss any movie featuring either or both of them is sinful -no matter what the reviewers or so-called critics say.
In "Ice Princess" Joan Cusack is the divorced mother of Michelle Trachtenberg. In a sense Joan has a supporting role to her daughter Michelle. They live in a small (-ish?) Connecticut town where Joan teaches school and Michelle is a graduating senior. The latter is a physics ace whose devout desire is to go to Harvard on a scholarship, To that purpose, and aided by her science teacher she studies the aerodynamics of figure-skating. This brings her in touch with the tough ex-skater-- now skating-ring owner-- Tina (Cattrall) whose professional past is murky, or even shady … and here we go!! A notable supporting cast of young skaters is also involved. (Don't ask. I won't tell.) They are of the female persuasion and include Tina's daughter for whom mom has ambitions skatewise. Tina's son Teddy (Trevor Blumas whose work is on TV) is the sole male presence of some (small) importance. He does things with a Zamboni and is telegraphed from the start as the obligatory heart-throb of Michelle.
Enough plot-telling-- from but here are some general tidbits, The film's music score is not brilliant, to put it mildly. The sub-sub-supporting boys are just vague background. The young, female kids spout some improbable lines. The girls are mostly short. And yes, there's the Zamboni. Now, if you ask a Greek person what that word means, s/he will tell you " ham." Among the tons of foreign words turned Greek, the French "jambon" has become Zamboni.
To my shame and embarrassment, I had to do some research to find out that Zamboni (named after its inventor) is "an ice resurfacing machine/vehicle." But then, when I first ran into "Hummer" I was baffled too.
Anyway, as the movie gets to the figure-skating competition of real contestants (or doubles), things can get quite exciting, colorful, and impressive.
I must mention that another incentive to see the film was Michelle Trachtenberg. She has played in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and in that very funny movie "Eurotrip" (2004) *** in which fresh high-school graduates have the raunchy, wild, crazy time of their lives while exploring the Old World.