Thursday, 9 April 2015

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is one of my favourite movies.
Back before Courtney Cox was famous enough to be on posters
However, something struck me when watching the movie for this review. Ace himself is a bit of a jerk. But it's not his fault. He is quite clearly suffering from depression. How did I come to this conclusion? Well, sit down, buckle up and prepare for a wild ride as I review this bad boy.

First off though, this movie is a Whodunnit, so Spoiler Warning.
We're introduced to our protagonist incognito during a job.
This guy
He's pretending to be a not-UPS delivery person just doing his job.
And a better job than my local Postman too
Turns out he's using this as a cover to approach a particularly mean looking man. He swipes the Meanie's puppy right out from under his nose and makes a break for it.
With an early display of the now-famous Jim Carrey subltety
However, when he gets to the car it won't start, allowing the meanie to catch up to him. With a baseball bat. How he caught up to Ace is a mystery considering he ran about four blocks.
Maybe he ran track in High School?
But Ace escapes and returns the puppy to its' rightful owner. She is very grateful to Ace, but sadly doesn't have any money. So she instead decides to offer sex, because back in the 90s sexism was A-Ok.
Snarkiness aside, this was a great introduction to Ace's character. It shows what it is he does, how he goes about doing it and where his priorities lay.
His priorities lay in getting laid
It also shows his flaws. He has a very bad sense of responsibility. If he'd stood his ground for more than 0.0 seconds he might have gotten the money to repair his car (That almost cost him his life).
But there's more. 
After returning to his home he's greeted by his landlord.
Who is apparently the Thirteenth Doctor post-retirement
Ace mouths off to him in an almost-impolite way before letting him inside to see that he has no animals.  The landlord accepts this and leaves but the moment he does, this happens.
How fortunate that his landlord didn't look in through the OPEN WINDOW?
Is this just a funny visual joke, or evidence of Ace's self-worth issues?
Many people with depression put on a mask (No pun intended). They act like a joker when around other people. It's a self-defense mechanism, though a flawed one. The depressed person believes that no-one could possibly like them, so they use the mask as a barrier. This way, if people don't like them, then that's ok, because they're not disliking the 'real' them, just the mask. The flaw comes in when people do like the mask. The depression kicks in and tells them that people only like the mask and would reject the real person beneath.
It's a catch-22 and Ace falls into it hard.
This movie is far more complicated than anyone gives it credit for.
Anywhoo, during all of this the mascot for the Miami Dolphins American Football team has been kidnapped. So we cut to the boardroom where the team's owner is berating two people. Coach Podacter and Melissa.
These guys
I would say that the owner is being cliche, but he's got good reason to be stressed and he's still being relatively reasonable about it, so good on him.
Good on you
He tells them to find the dolphin because his team can't focus without it. As they're discussing what to do the secretary suggests Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. They immediately scoff at the concept. The secretary tells them that Ace is actually a highly competent professional.
As seen here
They take her advice and give him the job. Ace meets Melissa and she explains exactly what's going on. But as she does so, Ace starts doing this.
Epic fingernail biting
His first meeting with an incredibly attractive woman who represents his biggest client ever and his first instinct is to annoy her as much as possible?
Typical depression.
If she rejects him then he can blame what he was doing. If he didn't do that and she still rejected him then he can't blame anything but his personality.
Ace goes to investigate the tank, which the police have already drained.
Ironically, Jim Carrey just cannot do a decent Shatner impression
When the others get distracted by the press, Ace investigates the tank's filter with his magic hand.
One moment it's dirty
And the next, it's clean
But he doesn't know what to make of it, so he goes to the police. He's very popular there.
Just more fuel for my depression theory
The big guy there's Aguardo, who's quickly shown to be incompetent. Within a minute Ace has verbally lambasted him and physically humiliated him.
Don't we all wish we could do that? Always have the perfect comeback for our tormentors? Well, aside from his depression Ace is every bit the male fantasy. Just like James Bond, he always has the perfect joke and the women love him.
I think this movie might be a deconstruction of the whole archetype.
And it's so mature about it too
Ace essentially annoys Officer Tone Loc until he gives in and helps Ace with the investigation. There's no explanation given for how these two know each other or why Tone puts up with him. Although, since Tone does give out a chuckle near the end of this scene, I shall assume that they were buddies in school.
Tone reveals that Aguardo has been put on the case because they're too busy and a missing dolphin is not exactly a high priority.
That's when police Chief Lois Einhorn shows up.
And she has terrible taste in suits
She essentially kicks Ace out, but not before he has the last word.
That word being Phhhhbbbbbtp!
With no clues from the police Ace decides to try another approach.
Asking the Muppets?
Sidenote, Death Metal is over 20 years old. I had no idea.
He's just passing through on his way to get help from his friend Woodstock, the ultimate hippy cliche.
But with better dental hygiene
Woodstock is actually a pro-animal rights hacker who often helps Ace. Through the power of computers he discovers that local billionaire Ronald Camp has purchased some equipment that could have been used to transport a dolphin. Camp is also known for trying to obtain endangered fish. Ace decides to investigate. So he infiltrates Camp's party.
With his usual professionalism
Melissa introduces Ace to Camp as her date, lawyer Thom Ace. Ace immediately rolls with this and uses it to his advantage by pretending to have been looking into recent food poisoning lawsuits against wealthy homeowners. Then going to try the pate.
Whilst pretending to use the bathroom he sneaks out and investigates the area.
Before Assassin's Creed, people made Mission Impossible jokes
Ace finds a tank large enough to house Snowflake the Dolphin and he prepares for a daring rescue. He is mistaken.
Ever so slightly
Ace escapes the shark somehow and subsequently leaves the party a mess, somehow managing to not raise suspicion.
If this doesn't happen at your parties, you've been going to the wrong parties
The entire evening seems like a waste until Ace finds a clue.
Secret handshakes back then were weird
Turns out Camp has a ring with gemstones identical to the one Ace found in the tank. Ace somehow knows that this ring is from a set given to the participants of the 1984 Superbowl final. Camp has one because he donated the land the stadium was built on. This leads Ace on a search for the ring with a missing gemstone. Cue montage sequence.
Sure is a good thing we've got context for this shot
But his search comes up empty. Ace gets frustrated over this and takes it out on Melissa, but to his credit he instantly realises he's being a jerk and goes to apologise.
Jim Carrey fits more acting into this scene than Kristen Stewart managed to fit into her entire career.
However, there's bad news. Coach Podacter has committed suicide. Ace comforts Podacter's dog whilst overhearing the witnesses statements.
The dog doesn't like the cops though.
Einhorn and Aguardo insist that this was an obvious suicide but Ace disagrees, pointing out that if Podacter had jumped then the neighbour wouldn't have heard his scream since the soundproof balcony door was closed.
And if it can block Ace's voice, it can block anything
Ace of course remains humble and refuses to gloat.
Context is your friend
Ace and Melissa investigate Podacter to try and find a reason why anyone would want to murder him. Melissa is impressed and she starts to warm up to Ace. They have a beautiful moment, all romantic and stuff when Ace does this.
This is exactly the expression I had on my face the last time I crashed my bicycle
Just as he's opening up and starting to let someone in he reverts back to his joker persona. But it's progress.
Plus he finds another clue.
That guy
That guy is Ray Finkle, replacement kicker who screwed up during the Dolphin's last shot at winning the Superbowl back in 1984. He did, however, get given a ring. Using the magic of computers they find his address.
Why they had to turn the lights off to look at the screen is never explained
Ace thinks it's too dangerous for Melissa to be alone since whoever killed Podacter might come after her. As such she stays at Ace's place, where they have some fun.
And it's not creepy at all
I'm not sure what this scene adds to the movie other than allowing Ace to make a joke about only being able to do it three times because he's tired.
Anyway, in the morning Ace travels to Finkle's home to find some answers. He meets Finkle's father.
Ace receives a warm welcome
After charming his way inside Ace discovers that Finkle escaped from a mental asylum eight years ago. Not only that, but Finkle apparently holds a grudge.
Just a small one
Finkle blames Dan Marino for the loss because Marino held the ball laces in. Finkle believes this led to him missing the final shot and losing the match. Ace warns Melissa about this and asks where Marino is. Apparently he's recording an advert about some kind of retro microwave.
And it's a very ugly one at that
Unfortunately Marino gets kidnapped and Ace's car isn't fast enough to catch up.
Ace does drive better than my sister though
Ace decides that now's the time to go to the police. He meets Einhorn and drops Finkle's name. Her attitude changes instantly, suddenly gaining new respect for Ventura and snogging his face off.
And who wouldn't want to snog that face?
Einhorn once again tries to persuade Ace to leave the case to the cops but Ace refuses, still insisting that his job is to find Snowflake. Saving Marino is just a bonus.
Of course, Ace needs more clues so he has Melissa commit him to the same asylum Finkle escaped from, hoping to find his stuff.
Persuading the Doctor that he was insane did not prove difficult.
The moment Ace is left alone he finds Finkle's stuff and gets the shock of his life. I hope you guys have already seen the movie because this is the big reveal.
Yep, Einhorn has been in on the crime since the beginning. Ace tells officer Loc about this and he does some snooping, revealing even more evidence of Einhorn's involvement.
Why he had to sign it at the bottom I don't know
Einhorn and Podacter were dating. 
But wait, there's more.
Ace sits down and tries to work out how Einhorn and Finkle know each other, only to come to a startling revelation.
Ray Finkle is a Cyberman!
Ray Finkle and Lois Einhorn are actually the same person. After the disappearance of the real Einhorn, Finkle stole her identity and worked his way up the Miami Dade police department.
And the clues were right in front of us the whole time.
First, Einhorn put Aguardo on the case, despite Aguardo being the stereotypical moron cop.
Second, Officer Loc told Ace that a missing dolphin was not a high priority. Really? The mascot of the local American Football team goes missing two weeks before the Superbowl and it's not a high priority?
Third, Podacter's dog started barking at Einhorn the moment s/he entered the room. The dog didn't react that way to anyone else.
Fourth, Einhorn's insistence that Podacter's death was a suicide and her reaction when Ace proved her wrong.
Fifth, her attitude toward Ace changed the moment he mentioned the name Finkle. You'd expect her to have the same reaction as when he proved her wrong earlier. But instead she was jittery when Ace told her what he had discovered about Finkle.

Damn this movie's good.
But wait, there's still more.
The very first time we're introduced to Einhorn Ace yells "Hole testicle Tuesday!"
I even screenshot the moment he says "Testicle"
And later, when Ace is explaining everything to Einhorn, look at the fruit on the desk.
You were distracted by his face. We all were.
Yep, the movie straight up told us the big twist. Not once, but twice.
Now that Ace knows who the bad guy is, he follows Finkle/Einhorn to a secret hideout.
With ninja-like stealth
Ace easily dispatches the two guards quietly.
Someone's been watching too much Home Alone
Just as he's rescuing Dan Marino Einhorn/Finkle returns and holds them both at gunpoint. S/he then radios for backup, planning to blame the whole thing on Ace. But Ace is a quick-witted and highly adaptive professional, he doesn't balk under the pressure.
No more than I would anyway
Before Finkhorn can start killing anybody though, Ace distracts and disarms her, leading to them fighting as the police show up.
Once the cops show up Einkle orders them to shoot Ace, but Melissa shows up with a gun pointed to Officer Loc's chin.
"Nobody move or the black guy gets it!"
This buys Ace enough time to explain the whole thing. When asked for proof Ace strips Feinklehorn down to her underwear, proving just how brave that actress truly is. When everyone meets "Mr. Winky" Einhorn is arrested for murder and kidnapping.
And I would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for that meddling kid
Ace drives Marino back to the Dolphin's stadium in time for the second half.
They still lost though
And our movie ends with a brick joke about an albino pigeon that's constantly out of Ace's reach.
Long before Family Guy, Ace Ventura was choking that giant chicken
This was a great movie. The mystery was genuinely intriguing, with a great twist that was well-foreshadowed. Ace Ventura is funny and likable, especially after his character development. The background characters are well fleshed out. The romance is believable, though I do think the sex scene was unnecessary.
Now if you'll excuse me, I hear nature calling.

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