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After remaining in obscurity for his first 11 years in the movie business, Jim Carrey's 1994 title role in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective finally catapulted him into Hollywood's A-list and cemented his now mandatory $20m-per-movie payroll.  However, his paycheck in this landmark movie was only 1% of what he gets nowadays - around $250,000.  This was probably the first "gross-out / idiot" movie ever to hit the big-time at the boxoffice and it has obviously spawned many imitators to success since.

Initially Jim Carrey refused to play the role after he deemed the script not good enough and he proceeded to go through many drafts until he finally approved one that worked for him.  As a result, the great thing about this movie is the original scripting and delivery that has hardly been topped by the bizareness of unlikely situations ... yet everything is intricately interwoven with all plot-points coming to a resolution that almost tops the one in The Usual Suspects - although you won't find an academy award with Jim's version.  You get more out of this the more times you watch it.

It's just a pity that by the time the inevitable sequel came along, Jim Carrey just took any old tripe of a script and ran away with his poorly earned $20m immediately.  In fact, ever since he became the most (seemingly) bankable star in Hollywood he's kind of turned into an annoyingly rich precocious one-hit wonder (something like Macaulay Culkin).  Actually, I guess he's always been an irritating persona, it's just that he wasn't famous or rich enough for us to notice it before.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
To be honest, I still hold a guilty pleasure for this movie but it has admittedly worn quite thin over the years now.  With great supporting performances by Courtney Cox, Tone Loc and Sean Young, Jim Carrey's (typical) over-the-top routines perfectly suit the outrageness and ridiculousness of the movie's settings and situations.  And I still love the many references to the movies of that day (I won't say which one is my favourite, suffice it to say it involves a toilet plunger and a cold shower - most people should know this one by now).  

It's just that ever since the sequel came out and then with Jim's quite disturbing role in The Cable Guy I have begun to lose what little respect I had for this man as an actor (and a human being in general) - ouch!  He is one of those actors that I'd love to hate and with each movie he stars in makes me not like him even more.

This movie was followed by a string of successful flicks which include The Mask, Dumb & Dumber and Batman Forever.  When Ace Ventura: Pet Detective first came out I had never heard of him before.  Then when I would unknowingly watch one of his past efforts and I'd go "Oh wow, I didn't know he was in that" quite a bit ... his most notable pre-fame cameo was in Earth Girls Are Easy and a co-starring part from Once Bitten.  He's even been in a couple of Clint Eastwood flicks, namely The Dead Pool and Pink Cadillac.

Movie
Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey) provides a service that is quite unique to the mean streets of Miami ... actually, he's the only one of his kind in the world for that matter.  If ever your beloved four-legged furry critter goes missing or your feathered friend has flown the coop, then the one man you should call to find them is Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.  He is a master of the unorthodox and can sometimes be so obvious in public that he literally disappears in the crowd.

Mellisa Robinson (Courtney Cox) from the Miami Dolphins has decided to hire Ace after their mascot Snowflake the Dolphin disappeared under mysterious circumstances (not least of which is that it didn't have any legs last they looked :-).  The police are useless since they don't have the resources, the understanding or the will to take on an investigation of this oddity.  So Ace starts looking into places that the police fear to tread (maybe because they might step in doggie doo-doo).  Subsequently, both parties keep getting in each others way through what seem to be unrelated crimes which inevitably have some connection after all.

What follows is probably one of the most bizarre chain of clues that only Ace can put together and solve.  Ace's pal in the policeforce Emilio (Tone Loc) and the long-suffering Lieutenant Lois Einhorn (Sean Young) know that it's only a matter of time before Ace comes to save the day and the AFL Superbowl championship.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
A bit of trivia for you ... "Shady Acres Mental Hospital" is a reference to the name of the director: Tom Shadyac.

Video
This was one of the first DVDs ever to come out of the U.S. because of its enormous popularity (even after 3 years of its intial release) ... and we have been given the really short end of the stick with this DVD (which I will explain in the Summary section below).  I think this breaks all the rules of acceptable DVD encoding practices today.

If you have the VHS you'd probably be better off with that.  For starters this DVD has one of the worst examples of MPEG blocking artifacts I've ever seen, which is hardly surprising considering this was one of the first DVDs to be produced in 1997.  There is some obvious film grain and the blemishes are all too apparent in the print used for the transfer (which is much the same as my Laserdisc copy).

Blacks are okay but since the image looks like a cheap TV production I'll have to be more forgiving of it here.  Detail isn't too bad but don't try looking for Ray Finkle in the AFL photoshoot.  Colours are basic however there is some ugly NTSC pixelation that is rendered very badly in this low bitrate encoded DVD.  Regardless of all these issues, at least the image is of a good enough contrast that we can still pretty much follow everything that happens on-screen.

I'm much happier with my original widescreen Laserdisc version though, thank you.

Audio
Very unremarkable, but it does the job.  This sounds like a made-for-TV audio mix.

The surround usage is adequate however the subwoofer cries out for attention.  The music and sound effects are clear enough but are stuck in the mid-to-high range of the sound spectrum.  The resultant soundtrack is really only suited for use on your TV speakers as I didn't get much else out of my relatively expensive home theatre setup.

Extras
Three subtitles (at least we get some this time around).  There isn't even a trailer!

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Summary
Okay, so you wanna know why I'm slightly miffed over this R4 release?  Firstly, this is the same NTSC encoded transfer as what was found in the R1 (U.S.) four years ago.  Secondly, this same R1 disc also contained a separate audio commentary by director Tom Shadyac which has been thoughtfully removed from our version.  Last but not least, a much improved 16:9 widescreen PAL transfer was released two years later in Germany which we obviously have not been afforded here for our local R4 PAL market.

In short, we can now claim to have the worst of the three DVDs available for this movie title.  If I had more dollars than cents then I'd probably still purchase it simply for the movie's quirkiness and all-out fun factor.  But the worst thing about this DVD is that it's probably not even worth renting since you'd get a better result watching the weekly VHS copy.  As much as I like the movie, this DVD is barely adequate for even the extremely die-hard fans to consider keeping in their collection.

By the way, I've given the Extras rating a point because you never know when you're gonna need subtitles!


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