Review by Tyler Hicks
Sometimes a movie is so dreadful that you can’t imagine why anyone—let alone a talented star—would agree to be a part of it. That’s the case with Ace the Case, a Susan Sarandon-led comedy caper that has a surprising lack of comedy and Susan Sarandon. While the new indie flick has a promising premise and some potential for family fun, most of it is squandered under poor pacing and even poorer performances.
Ace the Case begins with the tragic death of main character Olivia Haden’s father. When the hard-working Mr. Haden bikes to the office to work for a couple of hours on his day off, a trio of bumbling crooks accidentally hit him with their car during a getaway. This accident is just one of many loose threads connecting the disparate oddballs in the cast, and in a way, it’s the only bold choice made by writer-director Kevin Kaufman.
This depressing intro sets up Ace the Case as a coming-of-age tale wherein Olivia and her brother Miles find themselves while coping with this tremendous loss, but Kaufman’s storytelling is so shoddy that he never gives these themes a chance to come to fruition. Rather than focusing on Olivia and her family, the filmmaker veers from one kooky New Yorker to the next. The result is a hodgepodge of characters perfect for a Disney Channel original movie, but unfit to share the screen with Ms. Sarandon.
Luckily, they don’t have to do much screen sharing, as Kaufman foolishly relegates the Oscar-winner to the background for much of the movie. Sarandon plays Dottie, a skilled do-gooder in the Manhattan police force who crosses paths with Olivia when the youngster witnesses a kidnapping. Unbeknownst to both of them, the kidnappers are the same fools who accidentally killed Olivia’s father. Thus, the rest of the film takes the form of a quasi-revenge tale where Dottie and the amateur sleuth Olivia race to rescue the kidnapping victim from the hands of the moronic criminals.
Sarandon and young actress Ripley Sobo (who plays Olivia) have undeniable chemistry, and their rapport is the best part of the film. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t give their relationship the spotlight as much as it should, and Kaufman shoehorns in a bevy of forgettable side characters that detract from the stronger parts of the story. Among these lame support players is a mysterious, suit-clad cane-twirler who lashes out at random Manhattan thugs while carrying around an oversized bunny.
Sound crazy? You bet it is (and not in a good way). However, this man ends up being the perfect metaphor for the film as a whole: peculiar and weirdly interesting, but ultimately off-putting. Sarandon certainly deserves better, but so does the rest of the team on this Case. Buyer beware: what seems like fun for the whole family is anything but.
In Theaters & On Demand on August 26.
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