The follow-your- dreams fantasy Ice Princess comes with a built-in audience–mostly kids who believe they could someday be forced to choose between a career as a professional ice skater and a prestigious physics scholarship to Harvard. That's the dilemma faced by Buffy The Vampire Slayer vet Michelle Trachtenberg in Ice Princess. She loves the physics, but she might love skating more, unlike her mom, Joan Cusack. The plot wants to tap directly into the daydreams and parental conflicts of pre-teen girls. If it does well, look for sequels like Pony Princess, Wearing Make-Up To 6th Grade Princess, and Marrying Adam Brody Princess.
Though the film pays lip service to the importance of braininess by letting Trachtenberg combine her interests for a physics project, it doesn't exactly foster a fair fight between the Ivy League and the ice. Cusack plays a humorless, brown-rice-and-tofu feminist academic who remarks in horror that skaters' "twinkie" outfits set the cause back 50 years. (Does even Andrea Dworkin feel that strongly?) At the other end of the debate is unapologetic twinkie Kim Cattrall, a former skater who reluctantly agrees to train Trachtenberg–but only until her raw talent threatens Cattrall's daughter's chance at a title. The drama builds on all sides, working toward a fairly inevitable climax that brings in Brian Boitano and Michelle Kwan to provide the play-by-play. (Hint: It doesn't involve a physics competition.)
Ice Princess will probably connect most strongly with kids who have yet to develop an awareness of sports- and family-film clichés. Others might enjoy the skating sequences, some of which are performed by real-life stars Jocelyn Lai and the 13-year-old Kirsten Olsen (whose undisguisable youth makes her the least-convincing high-school student since Gabrielle Carteris). Beyond that, well, there are no talking animals in Ice Princess, so that's something. Also, director Tim Fywell never sets the many montage sequences to Avril Lavigne songs, which would have been a bummer. Oh, and the snowier parts of Canada make an effective substitute for New England. That much turned out well.