Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

1994, 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.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Tom Shadyac Films
Brian Banks
The true story of a high schooler falsely imprisoned

Aug. 9, 2019

I Am
Tom Shadyac, the director of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective has found spirituality and now wants to fix the world's problems.

Kimberley Jones, April 22, 2011

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
SXSW Film Review: The Greatest Hits
SXSW Film Review: The Greatest Hits
Love means never having to flip to the B side

March 16, 2024

SXSW Film Review: The Uninvited
SXSW Film Review: The Uninvited
A Hollywood garden party unearths certain truths

March 12, 2024


Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Tom Shadyac, Jim Carrey, Sean Young, Courteney Cox, Tone Loc, Dan Marino

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle