Ice Princess Tim Fywell

There was a time when the Disney brand name meant something. Children's classics like Mary Poppins were packed with prevalent messages and substantial heart. But ever since the '80s, save for their animated division, Disney's brand has lost its heart. Instead, their live-action family film department almost always places a good-looking 12- to 18-year-old in an against-all-odds situation where they rise to the success they always dreamed of. While this may work wonders for teaching audiences to aim for the same, couldn't Disney mix it up a bit? Ice Princess (note that three of the last five Disney live-action family films have had the word "princess" in their title) is the latest edition to the post-feminist Disney line-up. Michelle Trachtenberg (Buffy's little sister) plays Casey Carlyle, a brainy misfit who cannot decide whether she wants to accept a scholarship to Harvard or pursue a figure skating dream. Her mother (the wonderful Joan Cusack, who better be doing this for her kids) is nudging her toward Harvard, but when she gets the chance to train with an ex-figure skating champion (Kim Cattrall, who has no kids, so her post-Sex and the City work must be really slow), she decides to go for the gold. The DVD contains so-called "dazzling" DVD extras, including a "cool" alternate opening that is dismal, a few rightfully deleted scenes and music videos from "artists" named Caleigh Peters and Aly & A.J. Either way, Ice Princess is sure to please the under 15 set, just like The Princess Diaries movies that came before it. It's a generally likable film in a very generic sense, but offers nothing new and plenty of old. It's probably best to go rent Mary Poppins instead. (Disney/Buena Vista)