Ice Princess: An Underrated Figure Skating Film

Michelle Trachtenberg in Ice Princess. Courtesy of Disney.

Ice Princess, while underrated over 16 years later, is an inspiring figure skating movie showing that girls can be intelligent and athletic.

The Winter Olympics have me in the mood for movies about winter sports. This past Sunday night had me tuning into Ice Princess for the first time in several years. The thing I love about this movie is that there isn’t necessarily a villain. Tina Harwood (Kim Cattrall) does come off as an antagonist at times but she’s mostly serves as a coach to Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg). Casey and classmate Gen Harwood (Hayden Pannettiere) are daughters of parents who have their own dreams for them. Tina’s dream is for Gen to be the best in figure skating. Casey’s mom, Joan (Joan Cusack), has dreams of Casey going to Harvard. For much of the film, things play out like this. It isn’t until regionals when tensions start to arise.

But anyway, Casey ends up in figure skating as a result of making her summer physics project about ice skating. Casey grew up with a lake pond so skating was her childhood hobby. She decides to enroll in skating classes as a way of making the project more personal. After the initial recital, Casey jumps two levels to the junior level. this places her in the same level as Gen, Tiffany Lai (Jocelyn Lai), and Nikki Fletcher (Kirsten Olson).  Casey’s no longer the girl on the outside looking in but actually making friends at school. The cost of skating isn’t cheap and so she uses her program to help the other skaters in addition to working at the restaurant. The computer program doesn’t make the jumps for skaters but it does offer tips for improving one’s performance.

Tina and Joan’s relationships with their daughters change following Regionals. Joan’s focus for Casey is on Harvard and it’s going in this direction until Gen quits. Gen realized that what Tina did was wrong. Her acts might have helped Gen on the ice but they ultimately hurt Casey. One thing to learn upon watching Ice Princess, new skates require ten days to be broken in. Once we get over this, it’s a rousing performance during Sectionals. Sure, it starts off poorly with a fall but upon seeing her mom in the audience, Casey skates the skate of her life. I would have loved to see what happened during Nationals and potentially, the Olympics. But of course, a sequel isn’t necessary.

There’s a love story here with Teddy (Trevor Blumas) but it doesn’t dominate the film like it does with others. It’s one of the ways in which Ice Princess starts apart from similar fare, including Disney movies. For The Princess Diaries fans, author Meg Cabot co-wrote the film’s story with screenwriter Hadley Davis. The Cutting Edge movies are romantic comedies and they don’t hide this fact. What I love about this film is that it’s not a film that delivers what we think it would based on previous films. Casey is shy around anyone she hasn’t known since kindergarten. Meanwhile, film tropes would have us think that Gen would be a snobbish popular girl. She isn’t but she is jealous of Casey for being able to live a life. This also speaks to the two being raised as overachievers by their moms.

It’s a shame that the film didn’t do better at the box office. Ice Princess is the type of film that should inspire girls to become figure skaters. At the end of the day, Ice Princess goes above and beyond the clichés and gives us an entertaining film set in the competitive world of figure skating.

DIRECTOR: Tim Fywell
CAST: Joan Cusack, Kim Cattrall, Michelle Trachtenberg, Hayden Panettiere, Trevor Blumas, Connie Ray, Kirsten Olson, Juliana Cannarozzo, Jocelyn Lai

Disney released Ice Princess in theaters on March 18, 2005.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.