Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls was the first Ace movie I saw, back when I was about seven or eight. Jim Carrey is an actor that has divided opinion in my experience. My parents hated him, they thought his movies were terrible and couldn’t see the appeal of his comedy. Meanwhile, I was in stitches laughing at his roles.
Ace Ventura wasn’t the first movie I saw Carrey in, that title belongs to The Mask, but it is by far my favourite of his movies. We’ll start with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, the first of the two Ace Ventura movies (we don’t talk about the third one). The first movie is a tough one to watch favourably these days. Most of the movie is great, Ace is trying to recover a missing dolphin. The dolphin is the mascot of the Miami Dolphins football team, and Ace is at odds with the police who see him as a joke that is getting in their way.
The first movie doesn’t really have many standout moments, with the best probably being when Ace becomes convinced that he knows how to find the dolphin-napper. He decides it’s whichever member of the 1984 Dolphins team whose championship ring is missing one of the inset stones. What follows is him tracking them all down to count the number of stones on their rings. For one of them, he drives like a jackass so the player gives him the finger thereby showing him the ring. In another, he annoys the player so much that he gets punched in the face. Following this we get a scene of him counting the indents in his face.
The movie is made quite funny by little moments of unexpected comedy like those scenes. Where this movie falls down, however, is the ending and the reveal of the villain. The only way to describe it is transphobic. I’ll not go into why it is, I’m sure if you’ve seen the movie you know what I mean. It makes it impossible to enjoy the movie the same way I did when I was 9 and had no concept that the world kinda sucked.
Moving swiftly on, however, we come to my main reason for writing about these movies. I bloody love Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. It takes the ridiculous comedy parts of the first movie and just dials them right up. The second movie sees Ace hired by a rich Englishman to find a rare white bat. A bat which is sacred to a local African tribe that has been stolen by poachers. Ace meeting his employer near the start of the movie usually has me in laughing fits already.
Ace loves all animals so when he finds out his employer is a hunter, who runs a hunting lodge that is currently having a party, he can’t stomach his annoyance. Carrey‘s overacting tendencies works well here with the incredibly annoyed Ace having a go at some of the guests. This includes a woman wearing a fox scarf by knocking out her husband and wearing him like a scarf. Plus we also got this face;
The ridiculousness continues throughout the movie, with one of my all time favourite scenes from any comedy movie taking place. Ace needs to enter a cave that is home to bats, an animal he is completely terrified of. He is clutching his torch and a medallion like it is his own life, and then hears a bat screech. He proceeds to throw his medallion at it yelling “Take that you winged spawn of Satan!” Realising he just threw his medallion away he then tells himself that if he has a torch, he’ll be fine. Another bat screeches and suddenly he throws the torch as well screaming “Die devil bird!”
This scene ends with him then sprinting out of the cave screaming as bats fly out around him. It’s such a silly scene, but I love it. That scene is one I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Another such scene would be Ace rolling a car multiple times before finally crashing into a parking space, only to claim that it fits in the space “like a glove”.
I can’t say enough how much enjoyment I got from this movie when I was younger. That’s without even talking about the fake Rhino spy lair with the broken fan either. I guess I’ll leave that one for you to discover on your own if you haven’t seen the movie. It’s worth saying that I am aware there are many people who dislike these movies. Hell, the second movie was nominated for a Razzie award and won a few Stinkers Bad Movie awards, including Most Painfully Unfunny Comedy.
I can’t say what is wrong with the people who decided it should win that award. I can say that I love the outright silly fun of these movies. Writing this has made me realise that I don’t watch the sequel enough, however, so I am now going to go and rectify that!