Monday, May 7, 2012

The 31 Day Movie Challenge - Day 9 - ICE CASTLES (1978)

- Rated PG for some language. 
- Starring Lynn-Holly Johnson, Robby Benson, Tom Skerritt, Colleen Dewhurst, Jennifer Warren
- Written by Gary L. Baim and Donald Wrye
- Directed by Donald Wrye
- Running time: 1hr 49min

(The 31 Day Movie Challenge was proposed to me by fellow film critic Jessie Hoheisel (from superawesomemovieblog). We each chose 30 films for each other to review for the month of May. The first film chosen will be from 1970. The second film from 1971... and so on. The last day will be a film from 2000. I accepted the challenge!)

The story of an up and coming figure skater named Alexis (Johnson) from a small Iowa town.  She's very good, though doesn't have the confidence.  Convinced that she has what it takes, her trainer (Dewhurst) enters her into a regional contest, even though her father (Skerritt) disapproves cause he doesn't want his daughter's heart to be broken.  Also, Alexis' boyfriend Nick (Benson) quits college to be near her again, as he tries out for the Minnesota Northstars.  Alexis gets attention from professional trainers at the regionals, and becomes an overnight sensation.  The fame gets in the way of her relationship with Nick as she begins to change.  But when a tragic accident changes everything, will she be able to count on the her old friends and family to be there for her?

I feel like a bit of a hack here, but I really don't have a lot to say about this movie.  It's pretty much a mediocre TV movie that got released into theaters somehow.  It's not bad, it's just not worthy for a "big screen" presentation.  The story is by-the-numbers as you pretty much know how everything will turn out.

The acting is probably the better part of this movie.  Real life skater Lynn-Holly Johnson is charming and does a fine job as the innocent starlet (though she struggles in the last third when she has to act a certain way).  Tom Skerritt is solid as usual and Colleen Dewhurst is a kind of a hoot as a down and dirty trainer.  Robby Benson is fine I guess, but there's something about his appearance I don't like.  He looks like a pud.

The story tries to throw a few twists and turns our way, but they don't make a whole lot of sense.  There is a lack of character motivation in a few decisions that Alexis makes throughout.  When did she fall in love with a reporter, and why?  There are also some bigger questions that were raised in the last 20 minutes that I won't give away here.  And after the accident, Johnson begins to play her as mentally retarded.  To my understanding, it was a physical injury...  but... whatever...

The film's highlights are the figure skating scenes, which are well choreographed and well shot.  If you're a fan of the sport than those scenes should satisfy you.  Johnson is absolutely graceful on the ice, and during these scenes, she shines.  But unfortunately, the film has to have a typical Hollywood story that is about as generic as Crispy Rice.

** (out of ****)

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