Saturday, 7 June 2014

Movie Review: Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)


An exercise in abject silliness that actually works, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective unleashed Jim Carrey and his brand of over-the-top physical comedy on an unsuspecting world.

In Miami, Ace Ventura (Carrey) is a really weird and quite broke pet detective, hired to find and recover missing pets of all sorts. When Snowflake, the dolphin mascot of the Miami Dolphins NFL team, is abducted on the eve of the Super Bowl, the team's publicist Melissa Robinson (Courteney Cox) turns to Ace for help. But with the case attracting high public scrutiny, he quickly runs afoul of police lieutenant Lois Einhorn (Sean Young).

Ace's investigation leads him to believe that a member of Miami's 1984 AFC Championship winning team was responsible for Snowflakes' disappearance, and gradually a plot is uncovered involving a disgruntled former employee out to sabotage Miami's chances in the upcoming Super Bowl. A murder soon complicates the case, and star quarterback Dan Marino finds himself in a lot of trouble as the big game approaches.

1994 was Jim Carrey's spectacular break-out year, with The Mask and Dumb And Dumber joining Ace Ventura in catapulting the Canadian from obscurity to a comic superstar. Ace Ventura was the first to be released, a surprise hit that established Carrey's persona as a real life cartoon character, ridiculously expressive, living life according to a manic code of conduct that applies only to him, and extroverted to an extreme. Carrey has the uninhibited acting skills and dead-on timing essential to transform stupid behaviour to laugh-out-loud goofiness, and Ace Ventura showcases his skills to perfection.

There is really no other reason to watch this film. The plot is beyond inane, and the supporting cast is so thin as to be non-existent. Sean Young and Courteney Cox are meek foils to Carrey, and both are blown away into irrelevance. That rapper Tone Loc and quarterback Dan Marino are high up in the list of cast members says it all about the other talent on display. Director Tom Shadyac, making his debut, wisely ignores everything else and just trains his cameras on Carrey, who carries the film.

And riding on Carrey's energy, Ace Ventura is non-stop laugh fest. As a character Ace is indomitable, fuelled by misplaced self confidence and an inability to be rattled, whether facing a madman with baseball bat, wild gunmen, an incompetent police force, or a broken windshield. Whenever he appears to reach any limit his pushes for more comedy, catching bullets with his teeth, swimming with a shark, or exposing the evil mastermind against all logic. It's all ridiculous, and it mostly works as pure escapism.

Unapologetically ludicrous, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective crack the case of preposterous slapstick.





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