Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for crude humor, nudity, and language
Running Time: 86 min.
Cast: Jim Carrey, Courteney Cox, Sean Young, Tone Loc, Dan Marino, Noble Willingham, Troy Evans, Raynor Scheine, Udo Kier, Randall 'Tex' Cobb (cameo), Don Shula (cameo)
Director: Tom Shadyac
Screenplay: Jack Bernstein, Tom Shadyac, Jim Carrey
Review published December 17, 2006
Although considered a critical misfire at the time of its release, this comedy would be the film that proved Jim Carrey (The Dead Pool, The Mask) to be a comedic actor that could be zany and unique enough to bring in a sizable audience to the theaters, grossing over $70 million at the box office, and earning many more on home video. It set the tone for the broad physical comedy that would become synonymous with Carrey over the next several years, making him a bona fide superstar. Today, it's seen as a sort of comedy classic for the 1990s, a decade filled with "dumb comedies" that pushed the envelope of bad taste to the limits, but still oddly appealing to kids and juvenile-minded adults.
Carrey stars as the titular "pet dick", a wacked-out, highly eccentric investigator for the cause of animals who is called in one day to uncover why the Miami Dolphins' beloved real-life dolphin, Snowflake, has suddenly disappeared. With nothing to go on but a cut stone found in the filtration system of Snowflake's pool, Ace is sure the stone could only have come from the Superbowl ring belonging to one of the members of the 1984 Dolphins squad. Ace must go from player to player, coach to coach, in order to find the one man missing the stone from his ring, but with the cops getting in his way, it won't be easy.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective falls under the category of comedies that are considered good by its fans solely because it makes them laugh, rather than the usual critical benchmarks of direction, acting, story, etc. Regardless of what anyone thinks of it in terms of cinematic quality, there's no denying that the film succeeds or fails due to Jim Carrey's manic performance, so your mileage will certainly vary as to how much his particular shtick appeals to you. I will admit, on first viewing, I did find it very annoying and stupid, but over the years, it has grown on me. Today, it firmly resides in my "guilty pleasure" category of comedies that I laugh at, despite of (or perhaps because of) their utter stupidity.
Ace Ventura's cult comedy status is helped immensely by its NFL tie-in, particularly in recruiting many members of the Miami Dolphins' organization to take part in key roles. In particular, Dan Marino is ingratiating, as he plays himself in one of the more memorable sports star appearances ever put in a film. This marked the first film directed by Tom Shadyac, the first of three collaborations with Carrey (Liar Liar and Bruce Almighty would be the other two), and the one thing he nails best is in letting his inspired star cut completely loose with the material, riffing some ingenious ad-libs and catch phrases that were mimicked by fans the world over for years. It's a fun film for the inherently immature.
-- Followed by Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995). Also made into a television cartoon series in 1996.
©2006 Vince Leo