Ace Ventura Jr: Pet Detective Review

Every once in a while, a film will come out that pushes the bounds of human stupidity to such an extent that it drains every shred of hope out of you and makes you want nothing more than to give up and wait for the sweet embrace of death to overtake you.

I guess I should have known what I was getting into. The director's name should have been enough to tip me off; when a grown man insists on using a middle name like "Mickey," he's probably a little off as it is.

I'm also very aware of the natural proclivity that straight-to-DVD sequels possess to suck, and the fact that this is a sequel of a sequel with none of the recurring characters from the previous installments bodes very, very poorly. And it's not like Ace Venturas 1 & 2 were cinematic gold anyway. Still, I couldn't have prepared myself for the horror that was to come.

The movie centers on Ace Ventura's son, aptly named Ace Ventura Jr. (Josh Flitter), which tells you just how inspired the premise is. The story clumsily lumbers along with no sense of coherence, and the plot is stretched so thin that you'd swear the writer came up with it while sitting on the crapper. It involves Ace Jr.'s mother, a zoo-worker, being accused of stealing an endangered panda. The ever-so-precocious Ace teams up with a couple of his friends and his dog to save the day, simultaneously solving the mystery of the disappearing pets in his neighborhood. There's also the issue of Ace Jr. accepting his fate as pet detective, and blah blah blah you get the gist.

The kid isn't altogether untalented (especially against the backdrop of the ridiculously mediocre, stilted performances of a myriad of unknown child actors) but he's basically riding on Jim Carrey's coattails and not doing anything new with the character. Plus, he's trying waaaaaay too hard. Tone it down, man. At the very least, little Ventura's filmic and comedic presence is nowhere near as awkward to watch as Grandpa Ventura's (real name omitted to save whatever old, wrinkly face there's left to save) whose scenes make you want to die of embarrassment. From that ridiculous hair to the pathetic way in which he attempts to imitate the diction of his far more talented fictional son, it's all very hard to bear.

See, the beauty of the original Ace Ventura movies was Carrey's comedic timing and his undeniable charm; you wanted to root for him even when he was being an obnoxious douche-bag. Even if a lot of the humor stemmed from goofy faces and funny voices, it was still an enjoyable watch. "Alrighty then" was funny because Carrey made it funny; turns out, the joke isn't all that funny in itself. You'd think someone on the crew would have pointed out that small detail somewhere along the making of the film.

He's actually a normal kid for the majority of the film, but by the time Ace Jr. morphed into a replica of his father, I had had enough. Holy hell, this little motherfucker's annoying. I barely cracked a smile throughout the first two thirds of the movie, but the final act nearly had me in tears. These were tears of misery, in case you were wondering. Is this what constitutes comedy these days? Fart jokes and no-longer-relevant cultural references (e.g. Myspace, "Don't tase me, bro"...yes, that's actually in the movie)? The only mildly entertaining element of the movie was the ambiguously-gendered Pennington Junior (Reed Alexander); not so much because of his performance, but because I spent most of the film trying to figure out whether he really was a 12-year-old boy or a middle-aged lesbian dwarf. Sorry guy(?), you're the one who decided to get into show business.

I know that this is supposed to be a kids' film. A film for kids, if you will. But seriously, I think we need to give the kids just a little more credit than this.

DVD Bonus Features

Are you kidding me?

"Ace Ventura Jr: Pet Detective" is on sale March 3, 2009 and is rated PG. Children & Family. Directed by David M Evans. Written by David M. Evans, Jeff Sank. Starring Josh Flitter.

Inna Mkrtycheva

I’ve been trying to write something pithy and clever about myself, but as I am neither of these things I’ll just list some things I really like lately: the Twilight Zone, pizza, giant squids, “bloop” (look it up), bears, and Bill Hicks. Also, I have a growing fascination with music video goddess Jan Terri. It’s bad news.


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