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Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995)

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Score: 4/10

Genre: Slapstick Running Time: 1 hr. 30 min.

Release Date: November 10th, 1995 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Steve Oedekerk Actors: Jim Carrey, Ian McNeice, Simon Callow, Bob Gunton, Sophie Okonedo, Tommy Davidson, Bruce Spence

“A

ce Ventura: Pet Detective” was already grossly overacted and extremely over-the-top. This follow-up begins with Jim Carrey doing his usual face-contorting, toothy-smiled, wide-mouthed, exaggeratedly-voiced, alpine-haired routine, paired with a spoof of “Cliffhanger.” Unfortunately, instead of starting with something humorous, the film opens with the creature shamus reminding audiences why he always bordered so dangerously on annoying. Rather than leveling out the excessive goofiness, this sequel ramps it up, as if Carrey’s original performance was too restrained.

British consultant Fulton Greenwall (Ian McNeice) arrives at a considerably concealed ashram to hire famous animal sleuth and expert zoologist Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey) to retrieve a missing sacred white bat for the Wachati tribe of Africa. If it is not returned in time for the princess’ (Sophie Okonedo) wedding, the neighboring Wachootoo people will declare war. After examining the site of the missing marsupial, Ace investigates safari park owner Burton Quinn (Bob Gunton), which leads him to a disgruntled Wachootoo shaman, merciless poachers, Ventura’s repressed fear of bats, and a rapidly approaching deadline for ceremonial execution.

This film is utterly stupid. The titular character’s hulking gait is still incredibly ridiculous, his quotable sayings are repetitive and loud, and lots of wild screaming, frantic gesturing, and obnoxious noise-making replace actual verbal wittiness. With guano jokes, mucus jokes, birthing jokes, sexual jokes, and more, there are still plenty of preposterous, crude happenings to fill a 90-minute cartoonish romp. “Something wrong, Mr. Ventura?” asks Consul Vincent Cadby (Simon Callow). Indeed, there’s something very wrong with Ace, who despite being a brilliant flatfoot, is plagued by writhing facial expressions and a brash inability to effectively communicate with normal humans – lending to the creation of largely unbelievable, spectacularly contrived villains.

Some of the gags are actually clever in the way they use chaotic destructiveness to contrast tranquility, or absurdities to counter animal injustices. There’s also a waggishly faulty loss of ethics when naturist Ace uses a lifted monster truck to decimate a forest in a car chase with the bat thief. A few other moments of crafty editing are admittedly quite funny, highlighted by a mechanical rhino skit (built and acquired out of thin air) that takes the cake on combining unrefined humor and laugh-out-loud unexpectedness. Although faithfully following the pattern of nuttiness demonstrated in the first film, “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls” loses its focus and its polish, resulting in a less than spectacular second outing. It’s not surprising that a third film never came about, even though this rushed sequel was released a little more than a year after the original.

– Mike Massie

 

 



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