So it doesn't break any new ice, but "Ice Princess" is a refreshing example of how formula can still work so long as it's done right. Combining a well thought out script that nevertheless hits all the expected cues right on time, solid directing by Tim Fywell that never calls attention to itself, and good performances - it all leads to a nice little coming of age tale that's easily recommenable to the young girl market it's after. 'Princess' manages to not only hit the happy notes that lets one leave with a warm feeling, but throws in a couple of solid punches about the difficulties of single parenting and the ruthlessness of teen competitive sport.
One of the big reason for its success is Michelle Trachtenberg. The young "Buffy" actress comes across with genuine credibility and emotion, portraying the role in a way that perfectly conveys the fact that despite her intelligence, this is still a young and pretty green girl learning to grow up. Trachtenberg has genuine talent meets a girl next door style quality (ala Jennifer Garner) which makes her a far better and more enjoyable lead to follow than the Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan's of this world who come off as arrogant little queens only out to promote themselves and their woeful attempts at music.
Helping out is the great duo of Joan Cusack and Kim Cattrall who make for fun adult figures that thankfully avoid the stereotypes for the most part. Other minor roles ranging from the quickly brightening star of Hayden Pantierre to a certain "Star Wars" star's long-time rumoured beau Trevor Blumas are all solid even if underwritten for the most part. Production values across the board are nicely understand, focussing more on the story's substance than trying to impose a glitzy dominating style.
Good work too is done with the skating scenes. Many real skaters have been hired in supporting roles, and several sequences on the ice aren't afraid to show our heroinne falling on her ass from a bad flip more than once. The ice sequences never try to push the credibility window by giving these kids adult routines, but makes them different and elaborate enough to inspire excitement. This is perfect cinema for young girls and easily watchable if somewhat predictable stuff for parents who would want to take them. Who knows, it might inspire you.