Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Dir: Tom Shadyac, 1994

5/10

Aside from a few fleeting appearances in a couple of Clint Eastwood films and the musical Earth Girls Are Easy, Jim Carrey didn’t shoot to fame until Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was released, with the character forever hanging around his neck that he will never be able to shake off. 

Ace Ventura (Carrey) is a detective who searches for missing pets or animals. When the Miami Dolphins mascot (a dolphin) is stolen, Ace is called in to find it.

It’s not really surprising that Carrey became as famous as he did, after this. With his rubber face and quirky antics, Carrey was like a real life cartoon character.

Unfortunately, the zaniness and his idiosyncratic style is more of a chore than a pleasure and the character grinds on you, wearing out his appeal incredibly quickly.

That’s not to say that it’s all bad. The acting isn’t up to much, even by Sean Young’s standards, but there’s a certain charm and a level of enjoyment to still be had. 

The majority of the humour is geared towards Carrey, providing the future star with a springboard to showcase his physical style of comedy that would serve him so well in The Mask.

However, Carrey’s material runs thin and is difficult to sustain for a feature length film. Ventura is just too daft and silly. There’s no explanation as to why he behaves the way he does. One could argue that the character has a case of ADHD. 

The casting seems odd with rapper Tone Loc playing a, rather, significant role. Sadly, he’s no Ice Cube (who actually can act and extremely well) or any other of the multitude of rappers that are under the impression that they belong on the silver screen. Sean Young is her usual wooden self and has never been any good in anything after Blade Runner. She was okay in Fatal Instinct, though. 

There are flashes brilliance, with some hysterically funny scenes, such as the montage of Ace trying to find the Miami Dolphins ring that has a stone missing. Alas, in these sensitive times, the film is open to accusations of homophobia and and transgenderphobia (I’m pretty sure that’s not a word). Maybe a tad Un-PC by today’s standards but, what isn’t these days? As Carrey was one of the writers, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is his vehicle and takes every opportunity to hog the screen and take the jokes.

It has to be said, the film hasn’t aged all that well. What was once fresh and original, is now stale and formulaic. The movie succeeds in what it set out to so; and that is to make a star of Jim Carrey.

An interesting time capsule of the star before he was taken seriously by Hollywood, but very little rewatchability in the long run.

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