Ace Ventura: Pet Detective [Retro Review]

“Alllllllrighty then!”

The Scoop: 1994 PG-13, directed by Tom Shadyac and starring Jim Carrey, Courteney Cox and Sean Young

Tagline: He’s the best there is! (Actually, he’s the only one there is.)

Summary Capsule: Pet detective goes on the trail of a missing porpoise… wait, I mean dolphin.

Justin’s Rating: As much sense as Intel’s Blue Man Group.

Justin’s Review: Roger Ebert said that he found Ace Ventura to be “a long, unfunny slog through an impenetrable plot.” MovieHell.com called it an “unfunny showcase.” That Andrew Hicks guy who did five bazillion one-paragraph internet movie reviews said, “I just don’t understand why anyone likes this movie.” Leonard Maltin bickers that Ace “runs out of steam.” Well, good thing we all listen to the critics, because until Austin Powers came out, this had to have been the most popular, most-watched college film when I was a freshman in college in ’94. In fact, having laughed so hard when I saw it in the theater that I couldn’t breathe, and then later reading Ebert’s take, I had an epiphany. Roger Ebert was not the Pope, his words not the same as the Supreme Being. The man was, indeed, very off his rocker.

I don’t mean to get into a “Every Other Critic Out There Is Daft” rant, because I don’t believe that. I’m sure there still remains a large chunk of society that would rather just never see Jim Carrey do his Ace Ventura ever again. For instance, you will not like it if you loathe “annoying idiot slacker goofball” main characters. That’s all Carrey is. You won’t probably go for it if you are looking for solely high-wit plot twists, because there’s a lot of slapstick to go around the table and come back for seconds. But consider how easy it is to quote Ace Ventura and laugh as the pet detective talks trash at all the stiff-nosed snobs he encounters. He defies any nice guy stereotype with his duck hairstyle and outrageous wardrobe alone. And E-GADS! the man must’ve made a deal with Satan to detach and move facial muscles at will.

At the time the film was released, both Jim Carrey and Courteney Cox (who plays Melissa) were not household names. For instance, you probably would not hear “Honey, I’m sleeping with my boss at work who doesn’t look much like Jim Carrey” too often pre-1994. Yet, panned as it was, teens and college kids picked up the Carrey-sized ball and ran with it, spurring a sequel and a new leading man for the 90’s.

Ace Ventura, as the title suggests, is a pet detective. He lives in Miami, but clearly operates out of a dimension far stranger than ours. He drives his car like it was in a demolition derby, goes out of his way to poo-poo big shots, and treats animals with way more respect than any human. His case: to find and retrieve the Miami Dolphin’s missing mascot named Snowflake. It becomes a strange whodunit, as Dan Marino (who has a sole acting trait of opening his eyes wider) ends up missing as well.

Manic wouldn’t begin to describe Ace or the pace of the movie. He’s clearly insane (and having him go to a mental hospital midway into the film isn’t far off). Have you ever talked to someone who keeps trying to tell you a story, but derails on a tangent every three seconds about why they feel helium causes cancer or how our nation’s children are getting dumber? Ace treats the plot much in the same way, jumping off the story to do his own thing for a bit and then leaping back on. His many expressions and routines carry the film past mediocre (like pretending to be a foreign dolphin trainer or imitating the whole cast of Star Trek… and oh yeah, doing those within the same three minutes of each other). One of my favorite moments comes when Ace is sneaking into a boat dock. He leaps into a raft, whips out a pocket fan, and uses it to move the boat… two feet, where he jumps out onto a ladder. I don’t know, I just really liked touches like that. And the end fight where he goes mano-a-femano with a woman is so anti-cliché it’s classic. It’s just so out there it makes perfect nonsense.

To end, Chris Hicks, a Salt Lake City critic, wrote “Courteney Cox gamely tries to support Carrey’s madness, but winds up looking rather embarrassed. She will no doubt be signing up a new agent soon.” Sure, a year later and she’s starring in Friends. A year after that, Scream. Seems like Ace Ventura REALLY hurt her case!

Heather’s Rating: Ah, I love the smell of guilty pleasures in the evening!
Heather’s Review: It was Sunday afternoon and my hubby and I were settling down for a nice, starch-filled meal. The whole afternoon lay before us, so we turned to the TV. For those of you who have satellite *shakes a fist and curses*, you live blissfully unaware of a blight faced by all cable/air viewers: Sunday night television reeks like the inside of a McDonald’s playland.

Faced with that, we decided we hadn’t seen Ace Ventura: Pet Detective in a long time.

In my opinion, this movie is only going to appeal to a small portion of the population. I know that’s what this whole site’s about, but trust me. Apart from Justin, I feel I’m nearly the only one who will admit I like this movie. I can’t help it. There’s a part of me that has always loved Carrey’s delivery. His timing alone has the power to turn a really terrible premise and otherwise stupid film into a whole mess of unexpected laughs.

If you really need a breakdown of the plot, it goes as such: Ace Ventura (Carrey) is a pet detective. What’s that? Just a guy who really, really loves animals (if it’s cold enough) and makes it his living to use his detective skills to retrieve lost/stolen pets for a nice reward. In what is assuredly his biggest case so far Snowflake, the bottle-nosed mascot for the Miami dolphins, has been stolen. Who? What? Where? When? Why? Ace will answer all of those questions for you and make you sorry you asked. Lehoo-suh-herr.

Ventura is the embodiment of the id… if your id was injected with 1600 mg of pure caffeine. The plot, backgrounds, characters… meaningless! It’s all just there as an excuse for Carrey to be an idiot, and be far more entertaining at it than should be permissible.

This movie was the source for such crazily popular quotes as: “Lehoo-suh-herr”, “Aaaaalrrrighty then”, and “Reeeaheheheeeeaaallly”. Okay so maybe they were only crazily popular with me, causing near-homicidal tendencies in my immediate family circle. Still.

It’s got a little pop culture references and a LOT of childish. You’ll be alright with this if you can leave your brain in another room. Brain Guy probably has a spare pan you can borrow for a while.

I can’t help but make mention of the end credits. They’re worth sitting through if you want to listen to yet another embarrassing movie character-based rap, done by Tone Loc. Apparently Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer didn’t make 90’s rap look idiotic enough.

Hut-hut-hoot!

Intermission!

  • The name “Shady Acres Mental Hospital” is a reference to the name of the director, Tom Shadyac.
  • Here’s an interesting question… if the Dolphins were in the Super Bowl, why would the Super Bowl be at their stadium? As we all know, the Super Bowl takes place at a previously selected stadium each year.
  • A note, found in Lt. Einhorn’s desk, is dated January 17, which is also Jim Carrey’s birthday.
  • When Mr. Shickadance inspects Ace’s apartment for animals, the doggie door on the fridge is in one piece, but when Ace calls his animals out afterwards, the penguins exit through the doggie door which is clearly segmented.
  • There are numerous alternate versions, including the video (one minute added from the film version) and TV versions with added scenes. Network TV version features footage not shown on the video version, including a scene in a bar in Ray Finkle’s hometown. Also, in the TV version, Ace gets up on stage with the band Cannibal Corpse during the concert and sings.

Groovy Quotes

      Melissa: Hi, I’m Melissa Robinson.
      Ace Ventura: Pleasure to meet you.
      Melissa: Did you have any trouble getting in?
      Ace Ventura: No, the guy with the rubber glove was surprisingly gentle.

Ace: If I’m not back in five minutes… just wait longer!

Mrs. Finkle: If he had held the ball laces out like he’s supposed to, Ray would never have missed that kick. Dan Marino should die of gonorrhea and rot in hell!

Ace: I have a package for you, sir.
Man: Sounds broken.
Ace: Most likely; I bet it was something nice, though!

Camp: I’ll have the plumbing checked immediately, Mr. Ace.
Ace: See that you do. If I’d been drinking out of the toilet, I might’ve been killed.

Ace Ventura: It’s ALIVE. IT’S ALIVE!

Ace (about Ray Finkle): I saw the guy’s room. Cozy, if you’re Hannibal Lecter.

Melissa: You know, you’re just mad because your stupid little pebble theory didn’t work out and you don’t know how to express your anger.
Ace Ventura: Oh yeah? And you’re ugly.

Lois Einhorn: Listen, pet dick. How would you like me to make your life a living hell?
Ace Ventura: Well, I’m not really ready for a relationship, Lois, but thank you for asking. Hey, maybe I’ll give you a call sometime. Your number’s still 911? All righty then.

Melissa: You really do love animals, don’t you?
Ace Ventura: Only if it gets cold enough.

Ace Ventura: I’m looking for Ray Finkle.
[A shotgun cocks and is pointed at his head.]
Ace Ventura: …and a clean pair of shorts.

Lois Einhorn: Ventura, when I get out of that bathroom, you better be gone!
Ace Ventura: Is it number one or number two? I just want to know how much time I have.

Mr. Shickadance: Ventuuurrraaa!
Ace Ventura: Yes, Satan? Oh, I’m sorry, sir. You sounded like someone else.

Mr. Shickadance: I heard animals in there, Ventura. I heard ’em again this mornin’ scratchin’ around.
Ace Ventura: I never bring my work home with me, sir.
Mr. Shickadance: Oh yeah. What’s all this pet food for?
Ace Ventura: Fiber.

If You Liked This Movie, Try These:

  • Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
  • Bruce Almighty
  • Billy Madison
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6 Comments

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