A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is a 1994 movie in which Jim Carrey plays a strange and obnoxious detective who specializes in cases involving animals. While much of the humor was not that great to begin with, decades later, this movie has not gotten better with age, especially the jokes at the expense of homosexuals and the mentally ill. There is frequent strong sexual innuendo, including a sex scene in which Ace and a woman make the bed shake and bounce as the animals watch. There is also a joke in which a character says that a former Miami Dolphins player who has a brief role in this movie "should die of gonorrhea." Expect frequent profanity, including variations of "s--t." Some toilet humor when Ace emerges from the men's room of a socialite's party drenched in water. A man jumps off his penthouse balcony and is killed. People fall off cars and balconies and into shark-infested fish tanks.
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What's the story?
When the Miami Dolphins' mascot is kidnapped one week before the Super Bowl, team assistant Melissa (Courteney Cox) brings in pet detective Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey) to solve the case. Sporting a loud shirt and roller coaster hairdo, the wacky detective immediately begins an investigation, eventually unearthing a mystery involving a vengeful football player who once played for the Dolphins. Ace must race the clock when he realizes that star player Dan Marino (as himself) is in danger.
Is it any good?
Without Carrey, this comedy would add up to a perfect zero. Ace revolves around Carrey's talent for contorting his face. On display, he mugs and writhes incessantly, shamelessly, for his audience. Director Tom Shadyac indulges his antics and butt-cheek ventriloquism, mindful not to put anything in the way -- like a plot -- that might distract from his prize performer. Unfortunately, the talents of Sean Young and Courteney Cox are squandered here. Parents might be misled by the seemingly innocent movie title and should be aware that the bathroom humor and sexual content can be offensive. They should be further warned that dramatic kids might spend days imitating Carrey's wildly exaggerated mannerisms.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why this kind of "stupid humor" appeals to audiences. Why do different people find different things funny? How does this movie compare to Jim Carrey's other comedies?
How are the mentally ill shown in this movie? Do you think it's inappropriate to find humor in exaggerated portrayals of mental illness, or do you think that anyone who finds such portrayals offensive to be overly sensitive? Why?
Who are some other examples of actors -- past and present -- who play comedic roles in a style similar to Jim Carrey?
Families can discuss the history of physical comedy. How does this movie's humor differ from that of the Three Stooges, and how is it similar?
- In theaters: February 4, 1994
- On DVD or streaming: August 26, 1997
- Cast: Courteney Cox, Jim Carrey, Sean Young
- Director: Tom Shadyac
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Horses and Farm Animals, Misfits and Underdogs, Ocean Creatures, Wild Animals
- Run time: 87 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: off-color humor and some nudity.
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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