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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Encourages forgiveness and open communication between fathers and sons. Values helpfulness, hard work, and staying focused on the task at hand.
Positive Role Models
Two boys, one age 10, the other in his late teens, strive to unearth the truth despite the warnings from parents and other authority figures. Occasionally, they behave rashly and irresponsibly, putting themselves in danger (the youngest boy driving a jeep through the woods, the older boy breaking into a building), but they're ultimately successful in their quest. A father who is initially autocratic and demanding learns an important lesson about compassionate parenting. Female characters are used only in the background and rarely speak; they do not actively take part in any element of the story. No ethnic diversity.
Violence & Scariness
Two action-suspense sequences with some violence: A gruff man attacks a young boy and pushes him down; a fight follows with fists and a tire iron, resulting in some minor scrapes and bruises. The climactic finale includes a chase, a grown man repeatedly shooting a gun at a boy, and a car overturning with the boy at the wheel. Edgy music, lightning and thunder, and spooky lighting accompany several scenes.
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Products & Purchases
Coca-Cola, Gulf Oil, Google, Monaco Dynasty motor home.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In one scene, a peripheral character is seen smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ace Wonder is part plodding mystery, part weak father-son estrangement story, and part comic book. The title character is a 10-year-old would-be detective with the requisite trench coat, hat, and "hard-boiled" repartee. However, with the exception of a few action sequences, Ace Wonder, aka Gator Moore, is rarely a key part of the story. He's on-screen briefly, usually for comic relief, searching for clues or recording his observations. Most of the film tells the story of a teen struggling with the death of his grandfather and ongoing friction with his own dad as they investigate the elderly man's secretive actions before his death. Two action-packed sequences with kids in danger include gunfire, a fight with fists and a tire iron, and a car overturning with a boy at the wheel. No serious injuries or deaths. When the mystery is the focus of the story, the music and lighting are eerie and dark. The Ace Wonder comic book sections are, by far, the most successful elements of what otherwise is a slow, confusing, and unoriginal venture. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This movie is slow, with too many clues to unravel and an overabundance of relationships to sort through. Shifting tones (from comic mystery to overwrought family-dynamic drama and back again and again), glaringly awful writing and plot construction, and direction and acting that are consistently substandard make this a tough one to watch. The only slightly saving grace to this well-intentioned but wholly amateurish effort are the scenes that show the comic book version of the otherwise poorly executed story. Particularly appalling is the accumulation of scenes in which about a dozen assorted family members follow the principal kids from location to location and simply stand around wordlessly to watch them do their investigating. Definitely not recommended.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.