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Film Talk: Looking Back – The animal magnetism of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Fancy a bit of comedy this week? All righty then!

Jim Carrey in 1994's Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Jim Carrey in 1994's Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Starring Jim Carrey in one of the most iconic roles of his career, 1994’s Ace Ventura: Pet Detective showcased his eccentric charm at its finest, and now sits as a comic classic of its era.

Carrey stars in the titular role of Ace Ventura, an animal detective who is tasked with finding the abducted dolphin mascot of the Miami Dolphins American Football team. The flick was directed by Tom Shadyac, who wrote the screenplay along with Jack Bernstein and Carrey himself.

The film co-stars Courteney Cox, Tone Loc, Sean Young, then-Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino and features a cameo appearance from death metal band Cannibal Corpse.

Big, brash and bonkers, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective may not be one for all – but if you’re a fan of the outrageous and re-he-heally love the stretching of syllables, it’s wacky humour will be right up your street...

He’s the only detective of his speciality, and he always gets his man... or beast! Quiff-coiffured pet detective Ace Ventura is busy solving low-level animal-related mysteries and crimes around Miami, when one day he is drafted in to solve the case of his life. Snowflake, a bottle-nosed dolphin who happens to be the mascot of the Miami Dolphins, has been kidnapped and Dolphins’ publicist Melissa Robinson (Cox) wants Ace to find him.

The Miami Police Department is less than thrilled about the pet private eye’s involvement however – particularly Lieutenant Lois Einhorn (Young).

As Ventura begins his investigation, he discovers a small amber stone in Snowflake’s tank that had to belong to the commemorative ring of a Miami Dolphin’s team member, and the players themselves become the prime suspects in Snowflake’s disappearance.

As Ace begins to close in on the culprit however, plenty of other surprises emerge.

Dolphins quarterback, Dan Marino, is also kidnapped, and as the case quickly becomes far more than an investigation into a missing dolphin, Ventura and Melissa are forced to use all of their cunning to solve the mystery in time for the Super Bowl.

Fear not Dolphins fans – Ace is on the case!..

Produced on a budget of $15 million, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective grossed $72.2 million in the US and Canada and $35 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $107.2 million.

It received generally unflattering reviews from critics at the time, yet it was unquestionably the flick that launched Jim Carrey’s career. In addition to spawning the sequel film Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995) it also gave birth to an animated television series and a standalone made-for-TV sequel, 2009’s Ace Ventura Jr: Pet Detective.

Reportedly, a direct sequel to the first two films is currently in development.

Like Jim Carrey himself, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is something of an acquired taste. But if classic Carrey flicks like Liar Liar and Dumb and Dumber never fail to make you giggle, this, my friends, is the one that started it all.

Superb slapstick energy from Carrey coupled with a lovably outlandish plot make for a fun 86 minutes of laugh-out-loud entertainment.

To say this film has lost none of its sparkle at all after 28 years would probably be pushing it, but plenty of said sparkle remains to keep it shiny.

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