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Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Rated PG-13, 86 min. Directed by Tom Shadyac. Starring Jim Carrey, Sean Young, Courteney Cox, Tone Loc, Dan Marino.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Feb. 4, 1994

Finding yourself starved for some old Jerry Lewis-style clowning? Your response to that question will probably color your reaction to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Jim Carrey (the white guy on In Living Color) mugs his way through this preposterous comedy about a pet detective hired to find the Miami Dolphins' mascot Snowflake who has been dolphin-napped on the eve of the Super Bowl. (Certainly this release date is not coincidental.) Carrey's caricature of Ventura borrows from all the great detectives: Inspector Clouseau in his ineptitude, Magnum P.I. in his loud Hawaiian shirts, Columbo in his gaucherie, Mission Impossible in a wonderful, out-of-nowhere charade to the TV show's theme music. It even spoofs all the Airplane/Naked Gun spoofs. Manic energy is the term that comes most readily to mind when describing Ace Ventura. Carrey is relentless with his rubber-faced mugging and non-stop ad-libbing. With so many gags coming out of the chute, it's inevitable that a certain number of them will hit while most of the others will litter the ground like peanut shells at a circus. Circus is another term that comes to mind because Carrey is really more clown than actor. And that's where the Jerry Lewis reflection comes in. Carrey is not just goony, he's beyond control, like someone in need of serious sedation (or at least some firm directorial guidance). A little ad-libbing can go a long way, a lot can last a lifetime. Still, there's a certain wacky humor that pervades this thing, if you can get past the several homophobic jokes and the pile of bathroom humor.
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