Making the Grades
The MPAA has rated Ace of Hearts PG for some violence and thematic elements.
For Daniel Harding (Dean Cain), a member of the K-9 police unit, his partner Ace is more than just man's best friend. This specially bred, carefully weighed, and impeccably trained German Shepherd is literally the difference between life and death. The dog has even taken the occasional bullet to keep his master from harm's way. Understandably, Officer Harding tends to be a little protective of his "pet."
Unfortunately, all this attention directed at Ace is causing Harding's human family to feel a little neglected. Daniel's wife Lilly (Anne Marie DeLuise) is getting tired of only seeing her husband for a few hours each week, while thirteen-year-old Julia (Britt McKillip) is particularly crushed that her dad is more interested in work than her homemade cuisine and carefully researched crime fighting tips.
But those petty concerns are put aside when Ace suddenly finds himself in trouble. During a call to investigate a local burglary, the furry law enforcer is accused of attacking, instead of just apprehending, the suspect. Although the man (Mike Dopud) is sporting lacerations on his face and neck, those who know Ace best refuse to believe the trusty dog is guilty of the charges. However, the police department is not willing to take any chances. Rather than risk another possible bout of rogue behavior, they give the pup the death sentence. Horrified, the Harding family (and especially Julia) jumps in to acquit the dog.
Based on a true story that was featured in the January 2000 Reader's Digest, Ace of Hearts gives the audience an appreciation for the work of a police dog. Yet stretching a magazine article into a full-length, made-for-TV movie means the script has needed some padding. Sadly, most of the extra material is made up of stereotypical characters, like clumsy, unintelligent or inattentive adults. The story also deals out plenty of "kids know best" attitudes. This is particularly apparent in the actions of the teenage protagonist as she puts herself and others in danger by taking unnecessary (and sometimes illegal) risks. These include spying on suspects, tampering with potential evidence, trespassing on other's property and purposefully misrepresenting her identity -- not the sort of behaviors children should emulate.
Although careful to avoid serious content or graphic depictions of the rigors of crime fighting, there are some images that may frighten youngsters. These include depictions of a police chase, bloody scratches on a man's body, a suspenseful scene where a burglar breaks into a home and an animal in peril. While these elements are necessary to the plotline and may appeal to 'tweens and teens, some parents may want to wait until their littlest detectives are a bit older before laying this card on the table.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Ace of Hearts.
Why does Julia find it so important to help her Dad with his work? What is she trying to prove, and to whom?
Julia pleas for her father’s time and trust, yet engages in lying and some foolhardy behavior. How do her actions affect the audiences’ sympathy for her character? In the context of the movie, what does Officer Harding learn about his family as he comes to rely on his daughter?