Casey Carlyle (Michelle Trachtenberg) dreams of becoming a championship figure skater, but her mother (Joan Cusack) wants her to use her physics skills to enter Harvard. Casey has always felt like nerdy misfit, and only feels at home when hanging around the rink, watching Tina Harwood (Kim Cattrall), a disgraced former skating champ, coach her own daughter (Hayden Panettiere) and two other prodigies (Kirsten Olson, Jocelyn Lai).
The tiny upside of Ice Princess is that one gets something of an idea of what it's like to compete in figure-skating competitions and what goes on in the minds of these athletes. The unfortunately predominating downside is that it is rife with clichés and sentimentality. The movie is heavily synthetic in terms of both story and Tim Fywell's direction (although, happily, he stays pretty much out of the way of the skating). Trachtenberg, who showed spunky comedic skills in EuroTrip, is lovely but bland in this cheesy Cinderella role. She's unconvincing as a geek: There seems to be very little difference between her early klutziness, which seems put-on, and her later, incomparable grace on the ice.
Some of the other performers, however, come through entertainingly. The material may not be the greatest, but the supporting players all evince great energy and spirit. Cattrall's uptight, controlling character is on the opposite end of the spectrum from her beloved nympho, Samantha Jones, in "Sex and the City" (although she remains just as groomed and glamorous), and the actress seems to enjoy playing this unscrupulous bitch. Cusack also joyously tears into her role as a feminist relic of the '70s, repulsed by professional skating's emphasis on physical appearance and those fou-fou little outfits. (The face-off between these two type-A moms is pretty juicy.) Trevor Blumas, as Tina's Zamboni-driving son and Casey's convenient love interest, is a sweetly perfect, handsome boyfriend.
Charming Panettiere gives the freshest performance as a girl more attuned to cheeseburgers and boys than the rigorous dietetic/time requirements of the sport her mother forces her into. Diminutive Kirsten Olson, a real-life professional skater, is demonically funny as the "jumping shrimp," a fellow athlete with killer ambition. Brian Boitano and Michelle Kwan-sporting startling heavy-duty makeup and cleavage, like Lil' Kim on ice-make cameo appearances as judges.