Ace Wonder

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Ace Wonder Movie Poster Image
Painfully slow, often confusing mystery has some violence.
  • PG
  • 2014
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Encourages forgiveness and open communication between fathers and sons. Values helpfulness, hard work, and staying focused on the task at hand.

Positive Role Models & Representations

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

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. 

Sex
Language
Consumerism

Coca-Cola, Gulf Oil, Google, Monaco Dynasty motor home.  

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In one scene, a peripheral character is seen smoking.

What 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.  

User Reviews

Parent Written byarmelladana November 16, 2014

Kids need more movies like "Ace Wonder"!!

For people looking for a nice, fun, positive film for children 6 and over . . . all the way to 66, I highly recommend this film. I also recommend you never fo... Continue reading
Adult Written byExtemporaneous7 September 28, 2014

Great truly family-friendly movie

This movie was, hands down, the best, most appropriate family movie I have seen in a very long time. The mystery was no great psychological thriller, but it... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byAbbie P May 8, 2018

Common Sense is WRONG

Common Sense could not be more wrong about this movie! My younger sister and I watched it the other night while my mom was working in the garden, and the plot w... Continue reading

What's the story?

On a trip with his family in ACE WONDER, Gator Moore (aka Ace Moore) finds himself in the midst of his first real detective assignment. When their motor home breaks down on the road near a small town, the Moores meet and take refuge with the Morton family, who have come to the town to bury the Morton grandfather and dispose of his property. Dereck Morton, a teen, is angry at his father's estrangement from the older man and desperate to find out more about the bizarre notes, coded messages, and objects his grandfather left behind. Gator persuades Dereck to let him help -- he is just the "man" for the job. But Jim Morton, Dereck's dad, is much harder to convince. It's only when Dereck, with some help from Gator and friends, decodes the messages, unearths several crucial missing clues, and begins to suspect that Grandpa Morton was the victim of a conspiracy that Jim reconciles with Dereck and they all begin to investigate in earnest.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about movie genres. Find out what elements are essential to the mystery or detective genre. Which of these elements does Ace Wonder include? 

  • Both Gator Moore and Dereck Morton behave recklessly at some points in the movie (for example, driving off in the jeep and breaking into the library). What were their alternatives? To whom might they have turned for help? 

  • Dereck's grandfather's mystery is based on theft of scientific invention. Do you think the filmmakers made the science understandable? How might they have used Ace Wonder's comic book to help explain the mystery? Try to design a short comic book that illustrates a scientific theory.

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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