Ice Castles Movie Poster Image

Ice Castles



Schmaltzy classic skating movie for romantics.
  • Review Date: August 28, 2007
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1978
  • Running Time: 108 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Some gay-bashing language: "pansies," "lessie." Plus the old "limp wrists" reference.


Some hockey-related violence, including smashing into walls and a near fistfight. Alexis throws things and breaks them. No one is injured. Beulah wrestles Alexis to the ground in the mitds of a fit. Marcus and Nick go hunting together. They carry guns but don't shoot them. Alexis has a tragic fall on the ice rink that leaves her mostly blind.


Some making out shown amongst teens and sex is implied. Nick is seen in his underwear.


Considerable swearing, including "hell," "goddamn," "scared s--tless," dammit," "ass," "bitch," and "bastard."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Beulah drinks liquor from the bottle and later drinks beer. Marcus drinks beer, too, and Lexie drinks wine at a party even though she's 16.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that 16-year-old Alexis is thrown into a world too fast and big for her. As a consequence, she makes some self-destructive decisions. She cheats on Nick with another skater, and drinks wine at a party. Alexis also feels gross and sexualized by her sponsors. A tragic accident disables Alexis. Teen characters make out and teen sex is implied, not shown.

What's the story?

Sixteen year old Alexis Winston (Lynn-Holly Johnson) has talent -- she's the best natural ice skater that her coach Beulah (Colleen Dewhurst) has ever seen, "and that includes those girls in the Olympics." With the help of Beulah and her boyfriend Nick (Robby Benson), Lexie convinces her overprotective father (Tom Skerritt) to let her enter a regional competition. Soon, she's off training with a professional and competing in the 1980 Olympics, a camera crew follows her every move, and she's on the cover of Sports Illustrated. It's a dream come true and, soon she discovers, a trap all its own. When a fall on an ice rink leaves her nearly blind, she must decide whether figure skating is really what she wants to do, and if so, how will she achieve her goal?

Is it any good?


With a plot that will engage romantics young and old, this Academy Award-nominated film is an excellent illustration of what happens to a girl when she becomes successful too soon. She's isolated from everyone, and her relationships suffer. The other girls gossip about her, sponsors treat her like a piece of meat, and her coach pressures her to be perfect. A girl could be excused for a drink of wine at a party -- or even a more destructive act. It's an intriguing, and more benign, cautionary tale than those being played out by the successful and self-destructive starlets of today.

For those raised on MTV, prepare yourself for some slow moments here. The pacing does a good job of conveying the sadness and sense of loss in the movie -- the theme song does, too -- but it's overdone; Director Donald Wrye and his actors seem to be from the slow-equals-dramatic school of acting.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about success and celebrity. How does Lexie handle it? Why does she act out? What other celebs and celeb-athletes act the same way today? Is it easier to understand their behavior after watching this movie? How would you handle fame early in life? Do you think it's all it's cracked up to be?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 31, 1978
DVD release date:May 1, 2001
Cast:Colleen Dewhurst, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Robby Benson, Tom Skerritt
Director:Donald Wrye
Studio:Sony Pictures
Topics:Sports and martial arts
Run time:108 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

This review of Ice Castles was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 19 year old Written byebogue January 23, 2009

Great movie

I saw this years ago and loved it.
Adult Written bykeerstn March 3, 2015

Was maybe good when it came out, but...

This incredibly dated movie was one of my favorites growing up, so I shared it with my kids. We were all absolutely mortified by the language - most of it seemingly just gratutitious swearing to 'make' a main character seem harsh. The smoking and drinking, too, is typical for the time - it's everywhere. This is NOT the feel-good movie I remember. It is an incredibly labored movie that drags on and on, until it finally reaches its feel-good conclusion. Meanwhile, your kids are exposed to major profanity, boring character development and a bunch of puppy-love schmaltz. My kids hated it and my fond recollections were tossed right out the window.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 9 years old January 9, 2009

great story

Loved the plot of the story. It was simply AWESOME! I simply LOVE ice skating!


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