Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

Sometimes Over-acting Works (if your name is Jim Carey)

             Fact: Jim Carey is crazy.   There is only one reason to watch Ace Ventura - Pet Detective: to watch in amazement at Carey’s insanity in the form of physical presence.  This was his first major movie all to himself and it seems clear that in the meetings for the film, the creators just decided with one another that, “let’s just let him do whatever he wants (jumping around, yelling, obnoxious noises, etc...) and then we’ll throw some convoluted plot around him.”  And hey, the formula worked!  
This is the basis for most of his early films (Dumb and Dumber, The Mask) as well as for the movies of Adam Sandler (Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison).  It’s a one man show with a few side characters thrown in feel awkward around him.  And being a ‘pet detective movie, there are of course numerous funny animals.  The stolen dolphin plot is so absurd and definitely it takes place behind the main character much like a film noir from the 1940s.  
But it’s okay to have a lousy plot so long as I have Jim Carey to entertain me.  Watching him is fascinating.  Every single thing he does is given an extra kick of flavour.  He ensures that every mundane thing Ace does (whether sitting down, opening a door, or walking) has a nonsensical physical movement to it.  Every physical thing he does is over-exaggerated to the extent that all the characters around him are left standing speechless or just ignore him.  It’s hilarious. No, it’s stupidly hilarious.  In a good way.
Some highlights for me in particular are when he calls out the animals from the hiding spots in his apartment so that they can flock towards him while he chants like an opera singer.  When he uses every physical gag he can to induce vomiting.  When he is proving a room is sound proof by standing outside and yelling while quickly opening and closing the door (this goes on for a good full minute).  Or the famous scene when he is pretending to be even more crazy at an insane asylum by performing slow-mo imaginary football plays (and replays) then smashing his face into a bench.  
Summary: Jim Carey is not for everyone.  And plots are not for him.  But if reading these examples of over-acting makes you snicker, or make you think how stupid he sounds, well then that should be a good litmus test for if this movie will make you cry laughing or turn it off after 10 minutes.  Being #188 out of the 1412 movies I’ve seen [on], he is definitely for me.

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