Lisa Lo Paro
March 18, 2015 6:00 am

Recently, I caught my favorite movie from 2005 on TV: Ice Princess. Does anyone remember this gem? In case you were ~too cool~ (pun intended) in 2005, Ice Princess is a movie starring Michelle Trachtenberg, Hayden Panettiere, Joan Cusack, and Kim Cattrall (in her first post-Samantha role!), about a college senior who blows off a scholarship at Harvard to pursue a professional figure skating career. Michelle Trachtenberg’s character, Casey Carlyle, is this Physics wunderkind whose science project about the formula behind figure skating leads her to compete on a national level as a professional athlete. When I was 13, most of the messages of the movie went right over my head, but now, I’m realizing how awesome it really was. And because today is the 10th (!!!) anniversary of when this glorious movie came out, I’ve decided to reflect on some of the stuff I completely missed the first time around. Ice Princess shows complex women making mistakes, chasing their dreams, and growing in confidence — and here are just a few examples.

Casey Carlyle knows that being a smart, independent woman doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel beautiful.

There’s this awesome scene toward the end in which Casey is arguing with her mother about figure skating. She can’t get over the fact that figure skating seems like an inferior career choice, because it doesn’t involve a college career and an academic life. She also scoffs at the beauty of the sport, and exclaims to Casey, “Are you sure it doesn’t just make you feel beautiful?” as if that were the worst thing in the world, and Casey awesomely responds, “So what if it does? What is so horrible about that? About feeling strong and graceful and beautiful for once in my life?”

Casey totally owns this scene. She realizes before her mother does that feeling beautiful is extremely important, and its effects go beyond the exterior. Casey’s talent on the rink gives her a sense of confidence, grace, and beauty, and that doesn’t mean that she’s not brave and tough and smart. Just because a woman is girly and wears dresses and wants to feel beautiful doesn’t mean she sacrifices her intelligence, strength, and power.

Kim Cattrall and Joan Cusack play mothers who make major mistakes raising their daughters, and that’s okay.

This movie shows mothers as real, complex people who make mistakes despite their best intentions, but always have the chance to make it up to their children. Kim Cattrall’s character (Tina Harwood) is the mother to Hayden Panettiere (Gen) and works her daughter to the bone training for a professional figure skating career. She’d also been caught cheating during her own professional career, and even sabotages Casey during a routine. But Tina’s character shows incredible growth during the movie. She acknowledges her flaws and limitations, and manages to find redemption and heals her relationship with her daughter.

Joan Cusack’s character (whose name is also Joan) also projects her own ideas and dreams onto Casey, who finds it difficult to be who she wants to be. Joan finds it almost impossible to come to terms with Casey’s career choice, which harms their relationship. This kind of portrayal shows that mothers aren’t perfect, but that the love they have for their children is limitless.

We see women compete, hate, and then ultimately support and understand each other.

Gen and Casey are teenagers, so there’s this popular girl/dorky girl relationship going on between them that is totally normal. But it’s also amazing that Gen supports Casey in small ways throughout the movie, helping her with her nerves before routines, lying to her to make her less anxious, and even encouraging Casey to beat her in the competition. Gen gives up her spot in Sectionals so Casey can chase her dream, and Gen sacrifices her budding career to go to college.

Joan and Tina also have this massive tension throughout the movie, mostly because each disapproves of how the other lives and/or raises her daughter. Joan admits in the movie that she’s jealous of Tina, because she’ll “always hate the prom queen.” The movie portrays female competition well, but it also shows that differences in opinion can absolutely be overcome. Joan and Tina eventually find common ground and come to a mutual respect and understanding. Hear, hear, for women supporting each other!

The feminist message is totally progressive. 

Meg Cabot co-wrote the screenplay, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. In one scene, Joan says to Casey about figure skating, “I know it takes incredible training and effort and there’s all this artistry involved but I’m sorry, I just can’t get past the twinky little outfits. . . Sets us back fifty years.” Joan has this old-fashioned conception of feminism as a rejection of feminine beauty in favor of academia and a serious life, and it’s up to Casey to find her own path in life without her mother’s disapproval and philosophy holding her back. Casey finds that her beauty shouldn’t be sacrificed so that she can be taken seriously, and vice versa: wanting to feel beautiful doesn’t mean you’re not smart.

(Featured image via.)

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