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Ace Ventura, Pet Detective (Movie Review)

“Ace Ventura, Pet Detective” was released Feb 4, 1994. The film’s Domestic gross was $72,217,396.
April 05, 2009 By Jamie B in

Miami has not only been a popular place for filming movies, it’s also been a central part of some going all the way back to 1994. The actor? Jim Carrey. At the time, Carrey was wrapping up a run on the popular TV sketch comedy show In Living Color and had already had parts in many other movies. Still, he had yet to have that one big role that could make him a superstar. He found it that year in a movie that, while not really popular with critics, was a major hit with movie goers. I’m talking about Ace Ventura, Pet Detective.

Ace is On the Case

Ace Ventura (Carrey) is an eccentric guy who hires himself out to families who are desperate to be reunited with lost or stolen pets. He’s a success at it, too, almost always managing to get the animal back using many creative methods in his search. Despite being a genius at detective work, he didn’t join the Police force and is often made fun of by them. He’d rather work with animals, who he understands perfectly. He even keeps a little zoo of his own in his apartment, something he has to hide from his grumpy landlord. He’s just rescued a stolen dog and is on the trail of an exotic bird whose owner is offering 25,000 to recover when he gets a more pressing assignment.

Sports Stars Are a Superstitious Bunch

This is where South Florida begins to take center stage. The Miami Dolphins are getting ready for an appearance at the Super Bowl when their mascot is stolen from its tank. The Dolphin had just been taught how to make a field goal and was supposed to be a part of the half-time show. The team’s owner, Mr. Riddle, is furious and convinced that his team’s going to lose because of how superstitious sports stars can be. He demands that his Head of Operations (Roger Podacter, played by Troy Evans) and Head of PR (Melissa Robinson, played by Courtney Cox) find him before the Super Bowl or they’re both going to be fired. In desperation, they hire Ace based on the team secretary’s recommendation. Immediately, Ace jumps into action, but his strange ways lead the two to wonder if they’ve made a huge mistake. His first action? To investigate the tank while pretending to be a character out of Star Trek. They try to get him out of there before the press can maybe see him, but he refuses, finding his first clue: a small gem stone. We get plenty of glimpses of Joe Robbie Stadium and various spots in the area as Ace travels from one location to another, following clues.
One of the biggest parts of South Florida in the movie is the Dolphins players that appear in it as themselves on their practice field and former coach Don Shula. One player, Dan Marino, has a very prominent part. It turns out that the dolphin napping is partially related to him and a fictional version of the Dolphins-49ers Super Bowl they lost. In the movie, the score had just one point separating the winner and the loser, rather than the 22 point difference in the real game back in 1985. The game was lost by a made up player who misses a kick, something that was based on a similar move by Scott Norwood from Super Bowl XXV. The former player blames Marino for the missed kick (not to mention getting cut from the team and becoming a laughing stock in his home town) and has gone insane in plotting his revenge. Ace spends most of the movie tricking various players from the 1984-85 team into situations where he’ll be able to inspect their AFC Championship rings, leading to one hilarious scene in particular where he provokes a player he’s driving beside into flipping him the bird. He’s positive the gem stone he found earlier comes from that ring, but to his disappointment, everyone in the team photo has their rings in tact. Finally, Melissa, who has started to develop a bit of respect for Ace, reveals that the picture he’s using is missing a player that was added mid-season and tells him about the kick gone wrong and the man getting cut after the season was over. Ace is now convinced this guy is behind it and goes on a little road trip to visit the family, who appear about as whacked out as the former player himself. He thinks Marino’s in danger and tells Melissa to get extra security around him.

Ace is too late to stop the kidnaping, but as you can guess, he does manage to solve the case and recover both Marino and the Dolphin just in time for the half time show.

What Have They Gotten Themselves Into?

Carrey, as usual, is very flamboyant and uses the same facial tics and vocal inflections that defined most of his run on In Living Color. I’m particularly reminded of Fire Marshall Bill in this movie. It’s bit of a goofy movie, but it’s entertaining and has several great moments. One being the scene I mentioned earlier where he rescues the dog from a gruff, creepy looking guy by playing a delivery guy. Ace shows up with a damaged package the man has to sign insurance papers for. While the man is busy with that, he asks if he can pet the guy’s dog. The man allows it and turns his attention to the form. Suddenly, Ventura grabs it from him and leaves, telling the man he can finish the rest. He leaves the building, then makes a run for his waiting car. We see he’s actually stolen the dog, which he offers some kibble from his car’s ash tray. The scene cuts back to the apartment, where the man is ordering his dog away from the door. When the dog won’t move, he gets up only to find it’s been replaces with a fake one and a card that says “you’ve been had by Ace Ventura, Pet Detective.” The man is furious and runs out of the building, where he finds Ace still trying to start his car. The guy’s just about to get him when the car starts and Ace speeds off.

Another great scene is the scene I mentioned where Ace is investigating the dolphin tank with Robinson and Podacter looking at him as though they’re wondering what they’ve just gotten themselves into. Another notable scene is when the police are investigating the death of Podacter, sure it’s a suicide, mocking Ace’s presence there. Ace very quickly points out some facts that point to murder, showing em all up and clearly embarrassing them before he leaves. If you’re looking for some laughs and want to see the streets of South Florida, this is a good choice. The acting is pretty good and there are some excellent one-liners in it. The animals are pretty cute, too. The movie also stars Sean Young, Rapper Tone Loc (who also performs the theme song) and Nosey the Dlophin (from the Miami Seaquarium) as Snowflake.

Related Categories: Movie Reviews

See more articles by Jamie B

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