You know what Judge David Johnson thought this film needed? Fights! Like from Blades of Steel!
Every ice princess needs her prince.
This so-called sequel to the 1992 romantic comedy shares with its predecessor only the general theme (mismatched duo finding love and success in their figure-skating prowess) and the words "cutting," "edge," and "the" in the title.
Facts of the Case
Jackie Dorsey (Christy Carlson Romano) is one of the most talented young figure skaters around, and a heavy favorite to score gold in the Olympics. But when an injury resulting from a dangerous move knocks her out of contention, she sees her future fall apart before her eyes. Not even the consolations of her mother and father—both former champion skaters—can ease the pain. To get away from it all, she takes off on vacation.
While lounging on the beach with her friends, she meets Alex Harrison (Ross Thomas), a hotshot inline skating champ. The two immediately hit it off, without either knowing the other's true standing in their respective sports, and begin a rocky romance. Eventually their personalities drive each other away—but that won't be the last we'll see of them. Oh no, it won't be.
When Jackie decides to embark on a doubles skating comeback, Alex shows up to try out as her partner. Miraculously, he's been able to transform into a masterful ice skater in a few short months. Much to Jackie's irritation, she realizes he's the best available, and the two form their partnership.
What follows is a training session characterized by personality clashes, broken hearts, and lots of verbal sniping. Chemistry is thick in the air, but something always happens to squelch it, be it the reappearance of Alex's old girlfriend, the duo's general competitiveness toward each other, or Jackie's unbridled ambition.
But when they find themselves staring at the chance to land a gold medal at the Olympics, Jackie and Alex will have to decide which takes priority—their fractured feelings or glory on the ice.
Probably the worst thing this movie's got going against it is the title. It's a sequel to the original The Cutting Edge the way the subsequent direct-to-DVD installments of the Wild Things brand are sequels to the original release: completely different films with completely different characters that retain trademarks from the original (ice skating and romance for The Cutting Edge, gratuitous threesomes for Wild Things). But I guess it'd be difficult to divorce this film from the "Cutting Edge" moniker, or else it would be harpooned for unoriginality.
Which isn't to say Going for the Gold is terribly groundbreaking, but it does work some fun into the mismatched-skaters formula that was successful in the first film. I guess I'm just saying if you're the biggest fan in the world of the 1992 film, don't go in here expecting a D.B. Sweeney–Moira Kelly reunion.
Going for the Gold is a fine little bit of romantic comedy, geared toward a younger demographic than the first film was, namely early-to-mid twenty-somethings. What works the best is the on-screen chemistry between the two leads. Romano plays it up as the feisty Jackie, often launching into prolonged diatribes about how hard she worked and how winning is everything (a bit too prolonged in some instances), and Thomas as the hapless but charming Alex provides an entertaining foil. These two have the intangibles working in their favor, and though the writing is decent—even witty at some points—it's not the script that breathes life into their relationship. Due to their performances, I could buy their attraction to each other, as well as their mutual anger.
That last bit, the anger part, is an element that came across as a little over the top. When the two first got together, way in the beginning, it appeared their romance wouldn't be as adversarial as I had thought. Wrong. The bulk of the movie has the two screaming at each other, weeping, pissing and moaning, knocking boots with ditzy blondes (Alex, not Jackie), and generally confronting apparently insurmountable obstacle to their attraction. I get the need for conflict, and it does make for an effective release at the end when the two finally reveal their feelings to each other, but if these kids were any more star-crossed they'd be dodging meteorites on a daily basis. The actors do pull it off, however, their significant charisma carrying the film.
Unfortunately, the movie also suffers from some glaring low-budget limitations. First, there's not one recognizable face, save for Oksana Baiul (maybe) in a cameo as a sportscaster. It's not a fair criticism, I guess, but the lack of star power will likely hurt the movie's success. Heck, the most the disc synopsis could drum up for Romano's résumé is that she was a voice for Nickelodeon's Kim Possible. Another thing: the skating doubles are obviously not the actors, with Thomas's double a redhead (Thomas has blond hair). Finally, there's the final skating sequence at the Olympics, where Alex and Jackie unleash their Skating Super-Move!!!—an impossible triple-spin-in-tandem-midair-catch-toe-loop Ha-dou-ken!!! that's obviously and cheesily green-screened. Talk about jarring you out of the moment. A big mistake on the filmmakers' part.
The film looks fine in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colors are strong, flesh tones are on the money, and the detailing is crisp. Two 5.1 mixes (English and French) push the sound, and do well. The skating sequences, obviously, are harder-hitting than the bickering scenes. In the extras: Director Sean McNamara and both of his stars provide a spirited and funny commentary; a fifteen-minute making-of featurette called "Beyond the Ice" is robust enough; and an animated photo gallery and a movie montage set to the vocals of Romance are pleasing, but disposable.
You could do a lot worse than Going for the Gold. It doesn't measure up to the original, but the young actors do a fine job generating some on-screen sizzle.
An "ice" try. Court adjourned.
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Scales of Justice
• Director and Cast Commentary
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