Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is a 1994 American comedy detective film directed by Tom Shadyac, and co-written by and starring Jim Carrey. It was developed by the film’s original writer, Jack Bernstein, and co-producer, Bob Israel, for almost six years. The film co-stars Courteney Cox, Tone L?c, Sean Young, and former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino. In the film, Carrey plays Ace Ventura, an animal detective who is tasked with finding the Miami Dolphins’ mascot that was abducted.
Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was a box office success, grossing $107 million worldwide from a $15 million budget. It spawned a sequel, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, a direct-to-video spin-off Ace Ventura, Jr.: Pet Detective, and an animated series which lasted three seasons. In addition to launching Carrey into stardom, the film has a large cult following.
Ace Ventura is a private investigator living in Miami, Florida, who specializes in retrieval of tame or captive animals. Despite the success of his methods, he does not receive many assignments and therefore cannot pay rent or repair his battered 1970s Chevrolet Monte Carlo; furthermore, his eccentricities make him the laughingstock of the Metro-Dade Police Department.
At Joe Robbie Stadium, Snowflake, a bottlenose dolphin mascot of the Miami Dolphins, is kidnapped two weeks before the team is due to play in the Super Bowl. The team’s owner Mr. Riddle, believing the team will lose the Super Bowl unless Snowflake is returned, orders his Head of Operations Roger Podacter (Troy Evans) and Chief Publicist Melissa Robinson (Courteney Cox) to find the dolphin, or they will be fired. They hire Ventura to solve the case. He discovers his first clue in the form of a rare triangular-cut orange amber stone, which he speculates to have fallen from a 1984 AFC Championship Ring. Ventura then tries to find his culprit by tricking each player who played in this competition into showing their ring, but every ring he checks appears to be intact and original.
Later, Podacter mysteriously falls to his death from his apartment, which Robinson and Ventura go to investigate. Although Miami Police Lt. Lois Einhorn (Sean Young) insists it was suicide, Ventura proves it was murder, embarrassing and infuriating Einhorn. While trying to find how Podacter’s death is connected to Snowflake’s disappearance, Ventura learns of a former Dolphins player named Ray Finkle, whom he has not investigated because he did not appear in the team photo. Finkle had missed the potentially game-winning field goal kick at the end of Super Bowl XVII, causing the Dolphins to lose the game and his own career to fail.
Ventura visits Finkle’s parents and discovers that he blames Dan Marino for taking the snap incorrectly, causing him to miss the kick. Ventura and Robinson go to a mental hospital where Finkle was last seen. Under the guise of a mental patient, Ventura searches Finkle’s belongings and discovers a newspaper article about a missing woman, coincidentally named Lois Einhorn. Studying this, Ventura realizes that Lt. Lois Einhorn is actually Ray Finkle in transgender disguise. Ventura reacts in disgust and vomits due to Einhorn having kissed him in her office earlier.
Ventura then follows Einhorn to an abandoned yacht storage facility, where he finds a kidnapped Marino and Snowflake. When the police arrive, Einhorn orders the cops to shoot Ventura, whereupon Ventura tries to expose Einhorn by ripping off her clothes, but fails until assisted by Marino, who points out that Finkle’s penis is tightly bound between her buttocks; Podacter was killed by Finkle because he had discovered this detail during a rendezvous with Einhorn. Exposed, Einhorn is humiliated by Ventura and arrested.
Marino and Snowflake return in time for the Super Bowl between the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles. At halftime, Ventura attempts to capture an albino pigeon (worth a $25,000 reward if found and returned to the owner) earlier sought by himself, but is prevented by Swoop, the Eagles’ mascot, who shoos the pigeon away when getting a drink from a cooler. Enraged, Ventura beats the mascot while he is thanked on the JumboTron for saving Marino and Snowflake; Ventura briefly stops fighting Swoop (while still pinning the mascot down) and smiles as the audience cheers for him.
- Jim Carrey as Ace Ventura
- Courteney Cox as Melissa Robinson
- Sean Young as Lt. Lois Einhorn / Ray Finkle
- Tone L?c as Emilio
- John Capodice as Sgt. Aguado
- Dan Marino as Himself
- Uwe von Schamann as Ray Finkle in pictures
- Noble Willingham as Riddle
- Troy Evans as Roger Podacter
- Raynor Scheine as Woodstock
- Udo Kier as Ronald Camp
- Frank Adonis as Vinnie
- Tiny Ron as Roc
- David Margulies as Doctor
- Bill Zuckert as Mr. Finkle
- Alice Drummond as Mrs. Finkle
- Rebecca Ferratti as Sexy Woman
- Mark Margolis as Mr. Shickadance, his landlord
- Randall “Tex” Cobb as Gruff Man
- Chris Barnes (vocalist for Cannibal Corpse)
- Alex Webster (bassist for Cannibal Corpse)
- Paul Mazurkiewicz (drummer for Cannibal Corpse)
- Rob Barrett (guitarist for Cannibal Corpse)
- Jack Owen (guitarist for Cannibal Corpse)
- Don Shula as Himself
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective received mixed reviews. It holds a 45% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 51 reviews, with an average rating of 4.5/10, while it gained a 37 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 14 reviews. However, it was much more popular with the general public, making back over six times its budget at the U.S. box office and embedding itself, the Ventura character, and his catch-phrases in pop culture. Along with The Mask and Dumb and Dumber, the film is widely credited with launching the career of actor Jim Carrey. Carrey was nominated for the 1994 MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance but lost to Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire. Carrey was also nominated for a Razzie Award for “Worst New Star”. The film’s popularity spawned a 1995 sequel, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, with Carrey returning in the lead role.
The film has frequently been accused by commentators as being sexist, transphobic, and homophobic for its depiction and treatment of the character Lois Einhorn. Julia Serano cited the film as an example of the trope of “deceptive transsexuals” in the media.
American Film Institute recognition:
- AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Laughs – Nominated
- AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes:
- “All-righty then!” – Nominated