Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls – Toilets make funnier noises
We get the over personality treatment in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, a film that’s title inspires me to use the bathroom more than it does make me laugh. It is the sequel to the very abysmal and somehow (and sadly) “classic” Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. It stars Jim Carrey as the egomaniacal Ace who – if you found him funny before – he will continue to amuse you here. I noticed I was not as irked by Ace’s personality here, but that could just be me getting used to the stink.
It opens to a sequence that to me spoofed Hitchcock but, according to the cordial Wikipedia, is one of Cliffhanger. Well, that makes sense. We see Ace trying to rescue a poor-little raccoon in the Himalayas but that does not come to his avail. The raccoon dangles from a rope, a thousand feet high, and we see a shot of the rope slowly tearing. Come on, so Hitchcock! It reminded me of Saboteur.
But those are good movies. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls could perhaps be a guilty pleasure. I could understand that. There is humour here but muddled beneath Carrey’s unstoppable and endlessly exhaustive personality. It’s up to you to find it. This sequel does have its moments no doubt, and I liked how there is more emphasis on the animals. Where were they in Pet Detective?
The story is perhaps a second-rate James Bond and Tarzan spoof combined. Despite taking place in Africa, the film works around stereotypes while never being offensive. It never, and I mean never, takes itself seriously and that’s the important part. So Ace travels to the fictitious Nibia to discover redemption and a little vindication. Carrey though in no way attempts complexities with Ace and plays everything on ridiculous. Ace’s body seems to have a mind of its own
, separate from the brain. He thrashes around like a malfunctioning robot.
Ace’s mission is to acquire a sacred animal of the Wachati tribe called Shikaka. He has a stout, more formal sidekick named Fulton Greenwall (Ian McNeice) who Ace has no problem outdoing with the mannerisms. There is also the affluent consulate Vincent Cadby (Simon Callow) who is hiding secrets we know will soon be discovered. The rest of the plot is left to silly scenarios that may make you laugh or not. I was usually on the latter.
After I had a quiet viewing of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, I found myself snickering a little more to When Nature Calls. This is a bad movie surviving on a personality that exceeds any material it deals with. Most scenes are shot with Carrey doing an outrageous action and then director Steve Oedekerk providing a reaction shot from the surrounding characters. They are spectating our animal loving nutcase. Like we do.
I’d never recommend this movie. So poorly edited, contrived, and so very dumb. But that may be for you. I have grown to appreciate Carrey comedies that have life beyond the one actor. Though I sense a marginal improvement in When Nature Calls I am instantly reminded of that hapless raccoon: just clinching to the hands of Carrey and very close, and inexorably, to fall to its own doom. Same goes here. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls is a comedy that commits to its character, and then descends all the way to the bottom.