A word of
advice: don't go to the movies with the Harelip. Especially
the late night showing of a G-rated movie that she swears to
God is based on her life. My evening at the Tavern started as
most Friday nights do, with a pitcher of Budweiser in front
of me and some skank's ass in my face as I sat in my booth minding
my own business and she lined up a shot on the lopsided pool
table. It's funny, everyone knows the damn table is lopsided,
and everyone knows that no matter what you do, all the balls
will drain into the same corner pocket. At least the patrons
know this when they're sober. By midnight, though, they're drunk
and thinking they're that pro billiards lady with the shiny
shirts and enormous tits on ESPN.
that is, except the Harelip, who has always understood two laws
of physics better than I ever imagined she could. She always
knew that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,
and used that premise when making fun of haircuts. And that
you can't beat gravity, which is why she hasn't worn a bra in
twelve years and frequently comments on the effect of the Earth's
mass and proximity on them. Something times something times
something else and the radius of the earth in meters and the
center of gravity of each tit, which she insists have distinct
elevations, and how if she lived at the Quito, Ecuador she'd
have perkier breasts.
she wouldn't shut up about Ice Princess, a teen figure
skating fantasy. "It's my fuckin' story, they stole my fuckin'
story," she complained to me, Sue, Worm and anyone else who
would listen. Mostly we believed her like we do when she says
the FBI has a man hiding under her kitchen sink. You know, the
kind of believing where you nod until she shuts up and passes
out in a spectacular meth-fueled burnout, face first in the
Harelip sounded genuinely wounded. Her voice cracked with emotion,
in addition to the effect of three daily packs of unfiltered
Scotch Buy cigarettes. It caused me to believe she meant this
complaint more than when she claimed Brother Bear was
based on her life. So, after my third pitcher and before my
fourth, which is the most compassionate eight minutes of my
day, her claims of being robbed by Hollywood were starting to
feel like a slight to me as well. She promised to pay for me
to see it so she could prove her claim. Next thing I knew, I
was walking past the Arva-Pride Mill to the Olde Town 14 for
the last showing of Ice Princess for the night.
me back to my original point: don't go to the movies with the
Harelip, even if she pays. First, because she'll tell you to
suck your thumb so she can buy you a children's price ticket.
She said, "If they say you don't look twelve, tell them you're
retarded. That's as good as license to print money." Second,
because she won't shut the fuck up. Michelle Trachtenberg is
the ice princess of the title, a teen girl with a chance at
a Harvard physics scholarship but who discovers that her real
passion is wearing tight, outdated sparkly spandex. Fashionably
I could see where the Harelip might think this was her story.
As the curtain
rises on Ice Princess, Trachtenberg is deep into her
studies and trying to to "personalize" her physics scholarship
application thesis. See, she's a brainy nerd, and in the world
of teen fantasy movies like this, the divide between nerds and
everyone else is too great to bridge. So, we're supposed to
believe she's trapped with her nerdy friends in baggy sweaters
doing mathletics and having absolutely no social life. In these
first few minutes, the Harelip leaned over to me and said, "I
was hotter than that, but I was so fucking smart it'd make you
comes up with the idea of applying physics to figure skating.
During this part of the movie, the Harelip kept jabbing me with
the leather-coated bones of her fingers and hoarsely blurting,
"That's me. See, that's me... I never had those shitty pants,
but that's me." Even down to Trachtenberg's lesbian mother,
played stridently by Joan Cusack. I didn't realize Cusack was
playing a lesbian; I thought she just hated men, loved granola
and only wore hemp. The Harelip explained, "She's wearing a
macrame belt, for God's sake. If she's not a rug muncher, I'll
put a pencil through my good eye."
to fully understand the physics of figure skating, Trachtenberg
hangs around the skating rink and entangles herself with the
overachieving junior champions and their stereotypical, hard-driving
parents. She discovers first that she loves ice skating, second
that she has natural talent at it, and third that the Zamboni
driver is totally a dream boat. "Oh, my God," Harelip gushed,
"He looks exactly like my Zamboni driver, except in real life
he was 42, and had a wife and two kids. Otherwise, exactly the
same. Watch, he gives her the clap later."
Harelip continued, simmering, "and they've totally dumbed down
my physics. Aerodynamics? What the fuck? That doesn't factor
in figure skating. Unified theory? These asshole writers don't
know physics from the hole in their asses that shit comes out
I said, used to her lapses in cognitive ability.
you ask them," she spit out. "They'd tell you it's your string
theory. And all her equations don't consider static and kinetic
friction. They're making me sound retarded."
doesn't tell her mother where she is spending several hours
a day as she prepares for local competition and works in a hot
dog booth to pay for lessons. You see, being a lesbian, Cusack
is opposed to anything resembling pretty, feminine or pleasant.
Her daughter can only pursue physics and says a lot of that
shit like "What about our plan?" as though parents really say
that. Even the Harelip admitted the movie took liberties with
her story there. "My mother didn't give a rat's ass what I did,"
she said. "The only time we ever spoke was when she'd tell me
to let her and her women's volleyball coach girlfriend know
when their package from Xandria arrived."
few script contrivance complications, mostly involving the believably
skanky Kim Cattrall as a sneaky mom/trainer, Trachtenberg must
make her big decision. Is it to go to Harvard and hang out with
other ugly, nerdy physics students? Or is it to bail on her
scholarship interview, piss off her mom and compete in something
called the Junior Sectional Semi-regional Quarterfinals for
Figure Skating? Of course, she chooses ice skating and we're
supposed to be thrilled. I mean, come on, she was into ice skating
for like six whole months, and anything teenagers are into for
six months they will totally be into for the rest of their lives.
As we all know from the Barely Legal films and magazine,
teenage girls should always trust their instincts and be impulsive.
During this part of the movie, the Harelip got strangely silent.
At first, I thought she had just nodded off, as I wanted to
do. But then I heard the sniffling and felt her tug on my shirt
as she used it to wipe her nose. The seemingly insensitive cow
I had mocked for years at the Tavern was really crying.
is as cornball and predictable as they come. Of course, Trachtenberg
competes and stumbles because her mom isn't in the crowd. Meanwhile,
ESPN apparently had no curling events to cover because they
cover this amateur figure skating event. Michelle Kwan, a real-life
skater playing a commentator, was the only thing that the Harelip
out of her sadness. "That bitch," she snarled every time Kwan
was on screen. Lo and behold, Cusack, wearing hemp trousers,
hurries into the arena in the final moments and so inspired
her daughter that she overcomes a nasty fall to grab second
place and be catapulted to fame.
of Ice Princess is that every woman has only two choices:
to be a lesbian and excel academically but look frumpy and have
no time for hobbies or joy; or to be a girly girl who likes
things as odious as figure skating, pretty dresses and acting
like boy toys. There is no middle ground and you certainly can't
be both academic and pretty.
terribly exciting fantasy material for any really dumb girl
between ten and fifteen who never has any real hope of achieving
sports or intellectual greatness. It feels like a movie written
expressly for the home-schooled kids; completely out of touch
with reality but harmless and joyless enough to pass for entertainment.
But for anyone who can figure out the plot in the first two
minutes, Ice Princess is a boring slog. Trachtenberg
is a plug-nosed, doe-eyed dork who is neither believable as
smart nor a graceful skater. She just looks like she's about
to say "Jeepers!" and whistle through her nose. Cusack's character
is so harsh that it gives closeted lesbians a bad name, not
to mention the harm she does to the hemp industry.
As we walked
back to the Tavern, the Harelip was still crying and she sniffled,
"They took some liberties, changed stuff, and they mocked my
research, but the firsthour is mostly true." I doubted her and
told her so. I mean, if that's the Harelip's story, why isn't
she living fabulously and famously? What's she doing, drunk
every night, living in squalor by the railroad tracks, occasionally
prostiituting herself and practically connected to an IV of
the tears, she said, "Because I chose Harvard." And then she
cried even harder.
for Ice Princess.