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Ace & the Christmas Miracle movie review: A cliché-filled Christmas comedy that fails to keep you engaged

The film, directed by Asif Akbar and starring Jon Lovitz as the voice of Ace the horse, looks like it was pulled out from the 80s

Ace & the Christmas Miracle movie review: A cliché-filled Christmas comedy that fails to keep you engaged

Ace & the Christmas Miracle

Last Updated: 02.35 PM, Feb 26, 2024


Story: A single mother who is bitter after an unfair divorce ropes in an exterminator who is down on his luck to kidnap a horse so that she can secure her son’s future. The two end up sharing a warm friendship, helping each other live better, wholesome lives following a Christmas miracle

Review: Tis the season and there are a slew of Christmas movies that one can watch online. One among them that is vying for attention this season is Ace & the Christmas Miracle that premiered on Lionsgate Play on December 2. The film stars Jon Lovitz (as the voice of Ace the horse), Brande Roderick (as Amanda Taylor), Steven Chase (as Tony Romano), Robert J Fox (as Dougie Mcdougle), Keaton Roderick Cadrez (as Daniel) and James Chalke (as Big Freddie). It has been directed by Asif Akbar, who is also the writer along with Steven Chase and Robin DeMartino.

The film begins with Ace introducing us to Daniel, who he loves dearly and who loves him back equally. Daniel barely has a role in the movie beyond this. We then meet his mother, Amanda, who Ace describes as the “best mother”. For reasons unknown, we meet some of Daniel’s friends, who have no part to play in the movie. The story is set in Southern California’s Temecula Valley and begins a week before Christmas, when the entire town is gearing up for the Annual Christmas Derby. 

We then meet Tony Romano, an exterminator who is down on his luck and takes to scamming people to make a quick buck. He is clearly not very good at it, since he keeps getting kicked out by everyone he’s trying to scam. Tony gets a call from his uncle, who tells him to bet on a horse that is sure to win in the next race. Tony borrows $20,000 from Big Freddie, who he already owes money to, in the hopes of getting rich quick. Ignoring warnings from Big Freddie and his childhood friend Dough, Tony bets on and loses all his money. He has only a week to return the money to Big Freddie or face dire consequences.

Tony and Dough watch the race from the bar where Amanda works as a barmaid. She feels bad when she sees Tony distraught after the loss and befriends him. She offers Tony a chance to make back the money he has lost by kidnapping Ace, who she says is her brother Brandon’s (played by Nick Annunziata) horse. Amanda says that she is doing this to protect Brandon, who is sure to lose money by racing Ace in the New Year’s Derby. She would seek ransom from him to pay Tony off, which he could use to pay back Big Freddie. Tony goes along for the ride, and thinks that this is the Christmas miracle that he’s been praying for.

Ace, who knows that Tony is going to take him away from Daniel, bumps Tony on the head when he tries to ‘horse-nap’ him. Tony passes out and when he comes to, he realises that as a result of the bump to the head, he can understand what Ace says, and that Ace also understands him. While Dough and Amanda think that Tony is crazy, Ace strikes a deal with Tony to keep him from taking him away. Ace suggests to Tony that he can pay back his debt and even make some extra money if he bets on the horses that he tells him to. Tony somehow convinces Amanda and Dough to take Ace to the race track the next day, where Ace rigs races for Tony by pulling in favours with other horses. Thus begins their winning streak, with Tony winning a million dollars with Ace’s help. Tony pays back his debt and has enough money to lead a good life. He even splits his earnings with Amanda, who we learn has been struggling to make ends meet after getting a raw deal on her divorce with a lying and cheating ex-husband.

By now, Amanda and Tony become close friends, and they open up to each other about their troubled lives. This is where the movie attempts to be a wholesome one, with Amanda telling Tony that she believes in him and that he should leave his shady ways behind. Even Ace turns out to be a wise, comforting friend to Tony, telling him that he needs to leave betting behind.

All seems to be going well, up until Tony realises that Amanda had lied to him about Brandon. This shakes him up and Tony starts to question if anything in the past week was real. Distraught, he is lured back to his old ways, but a phone call from Amanda at the right time keeps him from repeating his old mistakes. 

Amanda makes amends with Tony and the movie ends with the very last cliche in any Christmas movie — a white Christmas… in Southern California, nonetheless! Just when you thought that the movie cannot pack any more cliches, Ace ends the film with the line, "Wishes and dreams can come true, if you really believe”. 

Verdict: Ace & the Christmas Miracle tries real hard to be a wholesome holiday watch. It manages to get almost nothing right — the acting is bad, there are no original dialogues and the comedy (the film claims to be one) fails to elicit any laughs. Picture this: An overweight cop, who, when opening a box full of doughnuts, says that eating a gluten-free doughnut is the way to live a healthy life post a colonoscopy. They even make him run and he fails to catch up to the rest — this is what the makers consider funny. The film banks on every Christmas movie cliche, offering absolutely nothing new. Every 20 minutes or so, one hears Tony say, “This is the Christmas miracle that I have been praying for”, as if that is enough to make it a Christmas movie. There are unnecessary dialogues and awkward pauses that do little to keep you engaged. Even the background music seems off at most times. Watch this film only if you really, really must.

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