Making the Grades
Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg) is your stereotypical high school math geek. Awkward and socially insecure, she aces Physics tests without even breaking a sweat and can babble on for hours about velocity and ratio. But Casey also loves to skate. During the cold Connecticut winters, she laces up an old secondhand pair of skates and spends hours on the frozen pond behind her house.
However, her mother Joan (Joan Cusack) has big dreams of scholastic success for her offspring. Primed and programmed since birth, Casey is on the fast track to Harvard. Her chance of being accepted seems even more certain when her high school science teacher encourages her to take on an extracurricular project in pursuit of a scholarship at the prestigious institution.
Heading down to the town's ice arena, she decides to base her study on the physics behind skating. Filming the athletes (Jocelyn Lai, Kirsten Olson) and plotting their movements into her computer, she breaks down every spin and spiral until she discovers the exact mathematical formula involved. But while watching the other girls perform, Casey realizes she doesn't want to just analyze the sport, she wants to do it.
Begging for a lesson, the math whiz finally gets a chance to prove herself on the ice. There she catches the attention of the rink's Zamboni driver (Trevor Blumas) and the local coach, Tina Harwood (Kim Cattrall) who is training her daughter Gen (Hayden Panettiere) for an upcoming competition.
Encouraged when her natural physical abilities start to surface, Casey soon discovers it takes more than raw talent to succeed. Now in addition to facing the sacrifices she must make, she is left stammering over how to break the news to her mother.
Setting itself up with all the makings of a formula plot, Ice Princess could easily have fallen into a clich0xC8d movie about instantaneous victory. But the scriptwriters glide past those temptations and create a story that allows characters to grow, change and triumph using their own abilities. Faced with the challenge of pursuing her own passion or fulfilling her mom's dream, Casey's struggles include more than just landing a good jump. She has to learn how to follow her heart without breaking everyone else's. The film also does more than pit "good" girls against the "bad" ones. It portrays some of the spirited squabbles that happen off ice but also allows friendships to develop between contestants.
While skating enthusiasts will likely enjoy the cameo appearances by Olympic figure skating champions Michelle Kwan and Brian Boitano, even non-athletes can appreciate the combination of skills and dedication, leaving this Ice Princess to score a nearly perfect mark.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Ice Princess.
What is the “mom disease” mothers suffer from in this story? Can dads be affected by this malady as well? How can parents effectively cure themselves of this illness?
Scripts often portray characters that have singular interests or abilities-athletics, academics, artistic, dramatic. Is that a realistic depiction? Can people be successful in more than one area of interest? How does Casey combine her abilities?
To better understand the science behind sports, check out the information and experiments at: http://www.exploratorium.edu/sports/ http://btc.montana.edu/olympics/physbio/biomechanics/bio-intro.html
Home Video Viewing Alternatives
Here are some ideas for home video titles that are related to Ice Princess.
Athletics aren’t the only area parents can go overboard in. The film, Searching for Bobby Fischer, depicts the driving attitude of a young chess player’s father who is eager for his son’s success. Joan Cusack and Hayden Panettiere star together in Raising Helen, the comical film about a single workingwoman who has to make some significant life changes when she is given custody of three young relatives.