Thursday, 16 April 2015

Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls!

1994-95 was a busy time for Jim Carrey. In 1994 he starred in Ace Ventura, The Mask and Dumb and Dumber. Then in 1995 he was the Riddler in Batman Forever. As such it only made sense for him to reprise his star-making role as Ace Ventura.
This was a mistake.
When jumping the shark just isn't enough
This movie was so bad that Jim Carrey refused to ever reprise a role for almost 20 years. But what could possibly be so bad about it? The first movie was a success and as I pointed out last week, it was pure genius in disguise.
Let's just see shall we?


I wonder where we are?
We open with a helicopter in Switzerland searching the mountains.
Sadly, this still has nothing to do with Assassin's Creed
Only to find Ace being his usual culturally sensitive self.
No racism here. None at all.
Ace is climbing the mountain in order to rescue a raccoon from a crashed plane. Unfortunately something goes wrong and the raccoon falls to its' death.
A family picture. Happy nightmares children.
If your child doesn't have nightmares after watching this, they may very well be a psychopath. Get them checked immediately.
Cut to some time later at a temple somewhere.
Seto Kaiba's least favourite holiday destination
The man climbing the stairs is named Fulton Greenwall, presumably by parents who never loved him.
This guy
He enters the temple, which is full of Buddhist monks. He's been sent there to retrieve Ace. The senior monk explain that Ace was a broken man when he arrived but that he has since found peace.
He might have found it sooner if he'd stayed home and hung out with Woodstock more often
Greenwall attempts to hire Ace for a job, even offering quite a bit of money, but since Ace is on a spiritual quest he is refused. But the senior monk tells Ace to go and gives him his Ankh, which I'm relatively sure has nothing to do with Buddhism.
Bolstered by this gesture Ace accepts the job and leaves.
They're quite broken up about it
Ace makes a joke about being in denial.
In the previous film, the depression was subtle.
Not here.
Don't worry about it though, it's not like the writers did. Ace's depression isn't even referenced in the rest of the movie.
Anywhoo, after a small bit of product placement the story can finally start.
Be honest, you would too.
While on the plane Greenwall explains the situation. The Princess of the Wachati tribe is due to marry a man from the Wachootoo tribe. Unfortunately, their sacred animal has been stolen. The Wachootoo have threatened to slaughter the Wachati if it isn't recovered before the wedding.
I have no idea whether this is racist or not.
I'm genuinely serious. Both the tribe names are obviously made up, but considering some tribe names from central Africa they're not too far-fetched. They don't sound insulting or ridiculous. Heck, both tribes are shown to speak the same language so it even makes sense for them to sound similar.
So the names get a pass.
More importantly, Carrey improved his Shatner impression.
Ace and Greenwall arrive in Africa and visit the consulate.
And he's still a better driver than my sister
We then get to meet Ace's client, a smug bugger by the name of Cadby.
Who is definitely not the villain
After being impressed by Ace's investigative skills (But not his social graces) Cadby discusses the case some more, taking the time to introduce Ace to exactly one person.
This guy
Burton Quinn owns a safari park and has a pet raven named Tinki. This is all we ever really learn about him.
We then have a non sequitur where Ace beats up the Monopoly guy and wears him like a scarf.
Normally I dislike violence, but here I'll make an exception
Cadby then takes the time to set up some more red herrings before showing Ace one last thing.
Is it time to talk about the fake elephant in the room?
Just in case the audience needed any more hints about who the bad guy really was.
After leaving Caby's "Lovely room of death" Ace and Greenwall go to visit the Wachati, stopping off at the sacred caves first. And it's here that we discover that Ace has a phobia of bats.
Fun fact, Carrey wanted Ace to merely be allergic to bats, not phobic of them.
Which I think would have been better, but oh well.
And then we're introduced to the Wachati.
Who apparently have great dental
Once again I'm uncertain if this is racist or not. On the one hand it hits every cliche in the book. But on the other, none of it's insulting. It doesn't even try to paint them as noble savages, just as people with a different lifestyle.
Heck, even with the 'Spitting in face as a sign of respect' joke it's not really racist. Look at that guy, he's clearly doing it just to mess with the outsiders.
So the Wachati get a pass.
Ace is shown to the crime scene but is told that he can't go near the cage since it's sacred.
Something Ace fully respects
But enough of that, it's time to party, native African style.
With guano crockery
Ace gets treated to the 'Vrigin's seductive dance' which is an excuse for a young girl to gyrate.
It's a shame Courtney Cox didn't return for this movie
I'm not sure whether this is more sexist or racist. It's certainly both, but I'm not sure which one's worse.
Ace does use the party as a distraction to investigate the bat's hut.
He does this by dusting for prints in the worst way possible.
Remember when Ace was a decent investigator?
But Ace does find a clue, a single black feather beneath the cage.
How convenient
Afterwards we're treated to some more sexism.
Boobies!
The Princess practically throws herself at Ace but he manages to turn her down. I want to point out that this is all of the Princess's characterisation. This one scene where she tries to jump on the hero.
The first movie may not have passed the Bechdel test but it at least turned up and sat it. This one was too busy staying at home masturbating to bother.
Speaking of lame masturbation jokes
Ace visits the caves and overcomes his fear long enough to find a second feather.
How convenient
Ace accepts these clues at face value. At no point does he stop to ask why the thief would need to visit the caves. Nor does he wonder why Quinn's raven would have been brought along. Or even why a man with the money Quinn has would need to come along himself. Nor why there would be no evidence except for two feathers which can only be matched to one man.
This is just such an obvious frame-up my 14-year-old niece could spot it.
Anywhoo, Ace decides to investigate Quinn.
By turning into Lee Evans
His methods of secretly following Quinn get more and more outlandish, eventually culminating in this monstrosity.
I give up
What the heck is the point of this thing? It's certainly not stealthy. It would also presumably be quite expensive. And how would he have sourced the parts so quickly?
I know the previous film had some ridiculous scenes, but it was still grounded in some form of logic. This is just daft.
And the worst thing is, this exists for just one joke. At the end of the scene (Which I won't screenshot, I'll spare you that) Ace has to clamber out of the back because the door gets jammed. And since the fan broke, he's sweaty and naked.
Just as he's escaping a family spot the rhino and think it's giving birth, only to see a man emerge. Thereby traumatising those kids for life.
That's the joke.
Yeah, I never laughed at it either.
Anywhoo, Ace kidnaps Quinn and interrogates him about the whereabouts of the sacred bat.
Jim Carrey at his most intimidating
But Quinn refuses to talk, so Ace gets nasty.
Hey, I can do that too!
I have no idea why people consider this so horrible.
But Quinn seems to hate it, spilling the beans about how he hoped he could get more visitors if he could track down the stolen bat.
In other words, he was innocent the entire time.
Gee, what a shock.
Ace apologises to Quinn and gets dropped off in the jungle.
Gently
Just as he's lamenting his lack of clues Ace is struck by one.
Literally
Ace attempts to flee, but gets shot a few more times.
None of them even have tranq in them, it's just the placebo effect
So our hero is unconscious and about to be captured, how will he escape?
Ummm, he won't. In fact, he's not even been captured. He wakes up in the care of the Wachati Princess.
Did we skip a scene?
She tells him that he got shot with darts from the Wachootoo tribe.
Once again, it doesn't occur to Ace that this might be another frame up, despite it being obvious.
Ace decides to investigate the Wachootoo, taking Aouda with him as translator. I forgot to mention Aouda earlier. He's the village idiot.
This guy
Ace investigates the Wachootoo discreetly.
Not racist at all
The Wachootoo are a racist caricature of native African cultures. There is no doubt about it anymore. Although they do have one good point.
They just want the secret to his gorgeous hair
How come the savage cannibalistic stereotypes are the only ones with brain cells to rub together?
Ace is not worried, because he knows that Aouda will go for help.
See? Village idiot.
The Wachootoo call Ace the 'White Devil' and prepare to kill him, but with Aouda's help he talks them down.
Aouda mistranslates everything Ace says. There's a fan theory that posits that if he hadn't, the Wachootoo would have killed Ace for his cowardice, so Aouda deliberately reinterpreted Ace's statements to spare his life.
I have an alternate theory.
Aouda is a moron.
At no other point in the movie does Aouda show even basic self preservation instincts.
But it seems to work and the Wachootoo tell Ace that if he can pass all of their tests then they won't kill him.
The first test is fire-walking.
This is exactly how I would do it
The second is apparently log-fighting.
Again, exactly how I would do it.
The third test confuses me. I think they're trying to help a guy who's sick?
Not racist in the least.
Ace naturally passes every test with flying colours. Only one test remains, the 'Circle of Death'.
The Wachati test of manliness is to stand on a platform for five days. The Wachootoo test is a fight to the death.
Seems legit.
So Ace meets his opponent.
This guy
This should be a good fight. Back in the last movie Ace took on a trained police lieutenant one-on-one and while he lost he did put up a good fight.
Here? Not so much.
So the small guy enjoys beating on Ace for a while, then decides to kill him by throwing a spear.
Not a great shot
Ace asks Aouda for help. Aouda obliges, passing a spear to Ace.
Unfortunately Aouda is a moron.
Who passes a spear like that?
So it doesn't exactly work out.
I don't think Aouda get to join in with the hunting parties
The Wachootoo do enjoy watching Ace suffer though, so they decide to let him live. But they do give him a deadline to find the bat. If he can't find it before noon the next day, then they'll slaughter the Wachati and smash his head against a rock.
Look how happy Aouda is to hear this news.
They even leave him with a parting gift.
They just wanted an excuse to look at his arse one more time
Ace compares the dart with one that shot him earlier and notices a discrepancy. The wood they're carved from looks very similar but in fact came from two different trees. The dart that shot him before came from a tree that grows nowhere near the Wachootoo, which means that the Wachootoo were framed.
After sending Aouda back to the village to warn them of when the wachootoo will attack, Ace searches the part of the jungle where the false darts' tree grows.
Not only does he find the exact tree the dart was carved from, but also the baddie's hideout, which is just around the corner.
How convenient
Ace distracts the baddies by making gorilla noises and prepares to retrieve the bat.
Refreshingly however, the baddies aren't fooled by such an obvious trick and they catch him.
For some reason though, instead of killing him on the spot they strap him to a raft and chuck him over a waterfall.
This was inevitable
Miraculously enough, he actually manages to survive.
And he even made a new friend.
Despite not being able to fight a tiny unarmed man Ace somehow manages to fight off the crocodile.
By the way, don't try this at home
After returning to the Wachati Ace trys to work out who's behind the bat's kidnapping. He can't think of any reason why someone would want the tribes to destroy each other, so he meditates to find an answer.
I guess he really did achieve total spiritual oneness after all
After some pressing, Ace admits that he threw his Ankh back in the cave and that it's probably sitting in a steaming pile of guano.
This is the Eureka moment Ace needed as he realises that the Wachati have a lot of guano.
No guano Sherlock.
With the case solved, Ace drives back to the consulate.
And yet he's still better than my sister
Ace enters and explains his findings to Cadby.
Remember him? We met him once.
Guano is rich in nitrate, which is used in fertiliser. This could make anyone with a rich supply a lot of money. But the Wachati own the caves. The only way to legally take control would be if the Wachati were no longer around. So Cadby kidnapped the bat in order to have the two tribes kill each other.
And how did Ace figure this out? The mark on Cadby's shoe when Ace first met him was guano, not masonry as Ace first thought.
The only thing Ace couldn't figure out was why Cadby would hire an investigator to investigate his own crime.
And the only thing I can't figure out is how Cadby packed his chess set away so quickly.
Turns out Ace was Cadby's alibi. He wanted to be able to say that he did everything he could to prevent the war. This also explains why he set up so many red herrings such as Quinn and the Wachootoo. He wanted to keep Ace busy long enough for him to get away with it.
It was almost a decent mystery, but Cadby was so obviously a villain that Ace just comes off as stupid for not having seen it earlier.
What's worse though?
It's essentially the same mystery as the previous movie. An animal's been kidnapped in order for a group to lose a tribal conflict. Ace investigates someone obvious who turns out to be innocent, but in the process discovers the clue that leads him to the real crook, who turns out to be the supposed good guy.
The crook then lays out his plan to frame Ace and get away with the whole thing.
It's not just the same mystery, it's the same plot.
Only with racism instead of transgender-phobia.
Anywhoo.
Ace calls on Adewale to arrest Cadby, but Adewale's in on it.
But his character was so well developed
Just as Adewale's arresting Ace however, he gets floored by an elephant Ace befriended earlier.
You remember the elephant? It appeared in about 30 seconds of screentime
Ace goes to the jungle to speak out of his rear and recruit the animals.
Meanwhile, Cadby is busy being an obvious villain again.
Villainous gloating in 5...
But just as he's boasting that there's nothing Ace can do to stop him, they hear a low rumbling sound. Everyone looks around to the sound of animal noises in a scene that would have been a Jumanji reference if this hadn't come out a month earlier.
Then the wall caves in.


Now we can talk about the elephant in the room.
Ace stampedes a bunch of animals through the consulate. The elephant knocks out Adewale and Greenwall knocks out Cadby. Ace himself deals with the two poachers.
By permanently blinding them
Cadby grabs the bat and makes a break for it. He grabs one of the cars and tries to escape, but Ace manages to steal a vehicle and chase after him.
And just like that, this entire movie is redeemed
This entire scene is awesome. Words cannot do justice to the sight of Ace ventura chasing someone through a jungle in a monster truck.
Just look at his face.
Cadby crashes his car and Ace runs it over.
I really enjoy this moment
Cadby flees into the jungle and Ace rushes to go after him but stops when he notices the time. Grabbing the bat he runs towards the Wachati village.
And not a moment too soon
We then cut back to Cadby getting his comeuppance.
Because rape is hilarious
Wasn't this supposed to be a family picture?
Anywhoo, with everything resolved, the Princess gets married.
To the lunatic
But just as he's consummating the relationship he discovers that the Princess is no longer a virgin.
Which is something that can't actually be discerned that way.
But since Ace did in fact make happy with the Princess he runs away and our movie ends.
It finally ends.
This movie was bad. There's no way around it. Sure, it had its' moments. Any time Jim Carrey is allowed to talk is pure gold. That scene with the monster truck was almost worth the price of admission on its' own. And the music was top notch.
But it was racist. It was sexist. And some of the humour was just plain cringe-worthy, the rhino in particular.
And the mystery was in essence a rehash of the previous film.
ll of the subtlety and genius of the first film were thrown aside in favour of cheap laughs.
And how the heck did this movie get a lower age rating than the previous one?

Looking to next week, we get to see just how Depp the rabbit hole goes.

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