Ace Ventura Jr. — Pet Detective (DVD Review)25 Feb, 2009 By: John Latchem
Rated ‘PG’ for some rude humor.
Stars Josh Flitter, Emma Lockhart, Austin Rogers, Ann Cusack, Ralph Waite.
Jim Carrey shot to stardom in 1994 with the original Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. The unexpected success of that film spawned the 1995 sequel Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, also starring Carrey, plus a video game and a 1995-2000 animated series.
Not surprisingly, Carrey was not involved in this direct-to-video third film, which focuses on Ace’s son, played by child actor Josh Flitter. The effect is a repositioning of the franchise into the same “kids playing grown-up” milieu as Spy Kids and Agent Cody Banks.
Ann Cusack plays Ace Jr.’s mom, Melissa, likely intended to be the same character played by Courtney Cox in the first film. She worries about her son’s love of animals but doesn’t want him to take after his father, who disappeared years earlier. But fate has another plan, as Ace Jr.’s grandfather (Ralph Waite) explains that wacky behavior is just a family trait of Ventura males, due to a genetic mutation.
Soon enough neighborhood pets start to disappear, and young Ace is drawn to investigate. The case picks up when celebrity animals also vanish, and Melissa is framed for stealing a panda cub from the zoo at which she works.
The underlying story, about a young boy hoping to follow in the footsteps of his father, is actually kind of endearing, and the movie is built on two key elements children love: cute animals and kids outsmarting adults.
The result plays a bit like a tribute to the earlier films, driven by a never-ending string of corny gags (a few of which actually work), movie references and a few too many fart jokes.
But Flitter delivers an energetic performance as the title character, avoiding a Carrey impression to put his own stamp on the brand. The key difference is that Carrey’s Ace would chew the scenery and dominate his surroundings. The kid version is more of an oddity who seems in over his head and is mocked for his bizarre behavior before winning over the crowd. Be warned — the ending definitely falls into the realm of “don’t try this at home.”
The DVD includes some deleted scenes (which set up a potential sequel) and a bunch of zany behind-the-scenes featurettes.