Ace of Hearts

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Ace of Hearts Movie Poster Image
Police dog caper has some emotional intensity, violence.
  • PG
  • 2008
  • 100 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Parents should listen to their kids.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ace the dog is a stellar, meticulously-trained police tracker. His human partner loves and takes care of the dog, but fails to give his needy daughter the same love and attention. The daughter is a natural detective, using logic, math, and curiosity to help find their missing dog.  

Violence & Scariness

A man tries to strangle someone and then spills gasoline and sets his boss' motorcycle on fire. A police dog grabs criminals by their arms and legs to detain them. A man uses barbed wire to injure his own neck, seen from afar. A criminal breaks into a home and menaces the occupants. A dog is mistakenly sentenced to euthanasia, but escapes. The technician in charge pretends he's done the job and fills a container with another animals' ashes. A dog is stabbed. An overzealous girl breaks into a suspected criminal's house.


Sexy Stuff

A husband and wife kiss.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the star of Ace of Hearts is a K-9 unit police dog, trained to track and detain criminals without hurting anyone. When a criminal alleges the dog went for his jugular, the dog is sentenced to euthanasia, which will be upsetting to young animal lovers. Note to parents: The dog escapes his fate and helps bring down the bad guy. Violence is tame compared to the level of violence common in many movies these days. The action revolves mainly around the police officer's young daughter who tries desperately to earn her distant father's admiration and attention through her clever detective work. A man scratches his own neck with barbed wire so he can claim a police dog harmed him. That same man tries to strangle his ex-boss and sets his ex-boss's motorcycle on fire.     

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What's the story?

The star of ACE OF HEARTS is Ace, a K-9 unit police dog trained to track and detain criminals without seriously hurting them. When a serial burglar named Torko (Mike Dopud) alleges the dog went for his jugular, the dog is improperly sentenced to euthanasia and Torko gets off. Ace's "partner," Officer Dan Harding (Dean Cain), is devastated, but his 13-year-old daughter Julia (Britt McKillip) does her own detective work and learns not only that the dog is still alive, but that there may also be evidence to help convict Torko. Far from home, Ace cleverly escapes; can he and Julia save the day?

Is it any good?

Dog lovers will pant over scenes that feature Ace, the brilliant star of this movie, but the scenes that dwell on his myopic police partner, Dan, bring the movie to a deadly standstill. The only character in Ace of Hearts smarter than Ace is Dan's dogged daughter, Julia. Though just a kid, she uses math and other skills to perform the intelligent detective work that neither Dan nor his superiors seem capable of.

Most irksome is a dad more interested in his dog than in his smart and helpful daughter. No parent, especially one with the patience to work with a trained animal, could be as stubbornly obtuse as Dan when it comes to responding to his own helpful and intelligent child's pleas for attention. We never see the dad do anything to indicate that he has any guiding philosophy, yet Julia often quotes him back to himself. It's as if he used to be smart, and she needs to remind him. In the same vein, a reporter sent to question Dan about the dog attack is absurdly rude and insensitive. It's a patently misleading characterization that suggests reporters would deliberately alienate people when in fact extra politeness is necessary in order to persuade reluctant subjects to cooperate.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Dan should have paid far more attention to his daughter, Julia. Why do you think he kept putting off her offers to help him?

  • Do you think Ace of Hearts is suggesting that sometimes kids are wiser than their parents? Why or why not?

  • Have you ever felt that your parents didn't trust your judgment when they should have? How did that make you feel? Why do you think parents sometimes don't put enough faith in their kid's instincts?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dogs

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