Ace Ventura: Pet Detective & When Nature Calls
October 9, 2006
Tom Shadyac, Steve Oedekerk, Dave Pemberton,
Starring: Jim Carrey, SeanYoung, Courteney Cox, Tone Loc, Dan Marino, Ian McNeice, Simon Callow, Maynard Eziashi, Bob Gunton, Tommy Davidson, Michael Hall, Richard Binsley, Vince Corraza, Al Waxman,
It’s safe to say that Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994) launched Jim Carrey’s career into the stratosphere. It provided the ideal vehicle for the comedian’s cartoonish antics, most notably his incredibly expressive face and wildly exaggerated body movements that were needlessly covered by CGI in The Mask (1994). But, as he showed in Ace Ventura, Carrey can uncannily resemble a live-action cartoon all by himself.
When he’s not trying to track down a rare albino pigeon for a $25,000 reward, Ace Ventura gets a lucrative assignment investigating the kidnapping of the Miami Dolphin’s prized mascot, Snowflake the dolphin on the eve of the Super Bowl. The team’s owner is anxious to get him back and assigns Melissa Robinson (Cox) to work closely with Ace who ends up crossing paths with his nemesis, Lt. Einhorn (Young), a spiteful woman who constantly gives him a hard time.
Carrey attacks the role with complete abandon of a man possessed and in the comedian’s case we lose count of how many people that might be. With the exception of Sean Young, who gives as good as she gets, the rest of the cast stays out of Carrey’s way and lets him do his thing. Courteney Cox often looks like she’s trying hard not to break character around him while Dan Marino looks lost most of the time. Whose bright idea was it to give him so much dialogue?
Pound for pound, Carrey’s funniest moments come in the scene where he and Cox crash billionaire Ronald Camp’s (Udo Kier) party and he proceeds to baffle and openly mock all of the rich, stuffy types who are attending with his goofy antics and lunatic mugging. It’s an inspired bit of comedy with many memorable exchanges, like when he compliments Camp, “And congratulations on all your success. You smell terrific.” It’s not just what he is saying but how he says it that makes these lines so funny.
After the massive success of Pet Detective, a sequel was inevitable and the studio wanted to make it before Carrey became unaffordable. Unfortunately, as with most sequels, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995) is inferior in every way to its predecessor despite being written and directed by one of the first film’s screenwriters, Steve Oedekerk.
The opening sequence parodies Sylvester Stallone’s mountain climbing action film Cliffhanger (1993) as Ace botches a rescue attempt of a raccoon. He subsequently goes into seclusion in a remote monastery but Fulton Greenwall (McNeice) tracks him down and convinces the pet detective to get back in the game and track down a missing sacred animal from an African tribe. If it is not recovered two tribes will go to war.
The jokes in When Nature Calls feel forced, certain gags from the first movie are repeated with diminishing effects and unlike the previous movie do little to propel the story. Of course, there is not much story to work with and so we get Carrey mugging endlessly. It may have seemed amusing in Pet Detective but comes off as tiresome in this one. Carrey and Tom Shadyac made such a fantastic team in the first film and this chemistry is sadly missing from When Nature Calls.
For the first time on DVD, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1.
There is also an audio commentary by the film’s director Tom Shadyac. He and Carrey decided to take a big risk and go way over the top with his character figuring that they had little to lose at that point in their careers. Shadyac talks about how he ruthlessly edits his movies, always going for a fast pace and big laughs. He points out that originally the studio wanted someone like Chevy Chase or Rick Moranis but once Carrey came on board he drew upon his stand-up persona. Shadyac waxes on about the nature of comedy but with surprisingly little pretension. He also points out the bits that Carrey improvised in this fun, engaging track.
Also included are the theatrical trailer and several vintage T.V. spots.
When Nature Calls only has a theatrical trailer and vintage T.V. spots.
Included in this box set are three episodes from the short lived cartoon series that aired on CBS from 1995 to 1997. “The Reindeer Hunter” sees Ace helping Santa find Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer who has been kidnapped. This episode opens with a surreal set piece involving a snowstorm inside Ace’s apartment. This episode wisely adheres to the first movie in terms of tone with a spot-on impersonation of Carrey as Ace. There is also quite a bit of recycling in terms of catch phrases as well (including one of the most famous, “Do NOT go in there!”). In “Natural Born Koalas,” Ace and his monkey sidekick investigate ill-tempered koalas that have gone from sedate and cuddly to downright feral. Finally, there is “Dragon Guy” which features Ace dreaming about him and his monkey rescuing a fire-breathing dragon which is as odd as it sounds.