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Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (or simply Ace Ventura, or also simply 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 Lōc, 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.
Ace Ventura is a Miami private investigator who specializes in the retrieval of tamed or captive animals. Despite the occasional successes, he struggles to pay rent and repair his battered 1970s Chevrolet Monte Carlo. He keeps dozens of different animals in his apartment, and his eccentricities make him the laughing stock of the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Two weeks before the Miami Dolphins football team is due to play in the Super Bowl, the team mascot, a bottlenose dolphin named Snowflake, is stolen. Besides notifying the police, Melissa Robinson, the team's Chief Publicist, also hires Ace to find Snowflake. Ace discovers a rare triangular-cut orange amber stone, which he speculates to be part of a 1984 AFC Championship Ring. Ace tracks down the players in the team photo and sees their ring, but is dismayed to find every ring intact.
Roger Podacter, Miami Dolphins' Head of Operations, mysteriously falls to his death from his apartment. At the crime scene, Miami Police Lieutenant Lois Einhorn concludes the death to be a suicide. However, Ace proves it was a murder, embarrassing and infuriating Einhorn. Ace learns of a former Dolphins player named Ray Finkle, who also owned a ring but did not appear in the team photo, as he was added later in the season. Finkle missed the field goal kick at the end of Super Bowl XIX, which cost the Dolphins the championship and ruined his career. Ace visits Finkle's parents and discovers that he blames Dan Marino for taking the snap incorrectly, causing him to miss the kick. Finkle became so obsessed with the loss and Marino that he became insane and was admitted to a mental hospital. However, despite Ace warning Melissa to send extra protection, Marino is still kidnapped. Ace visits Einhorn and explains his theory: Finkle kidnapped Marino out of revenge due to blaming him for his career having failed. Also, he took offense to the Dolphins giving Snowflake his number and teaching it to kick a field goal, and presumes he killed Podactor after he found him snooping around. Einhorn compliments him on his finding, and tells him to let the police finish the job. Ace declines, saying it is his job to find Snowflake.
Ace and Robinson go to the mental hospital where Finkle was committed. Ace searches Finkle's belongings and discovers a newspaper article about a missing woman named Lois Einhorn. Studying this, Ace realizes that Lieutenant Lois Einhorn is, indeed, Ray Finkle. Soon after, Ace makes himself vomit and sets his clothes on fire, feeling disgusted that he made out with Finkle.
On Super Bowl Sunday, Ace follows Finkle to an abandoned yacht storage facility, where he finds Snowflake and Marino. Ace subdues Finkle's henchmen, but before he can rescue Marino, Finkle holds him at gunpoint. When the police arrive, Finkle claims that Ace is the kidnapper and orders them to shoot him. Ace strips Finkle and with a little help from Marino, exposes her true identity, as it turns out she didn't perform the penectomy and vaginoplasty to perfect the disguise. She merely tucked the penis between her legs. Podacter discovered this during an earlier rendezvous with Finkle, so Finkle murdered him. Finkle attempts to kill Ace, but Ace subdues her and takes off her ring, a 1984 AFC Championship ring missing a stone. Finkle is then arrested and charged with murder.
Marino and Snowflake return in time for the Super Bowl between the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles. At halftime, Ventura sees an albino pigeon (worth a $25,000 reward), but Swoop, the Eagles' mascot, shoos it away before he can catch it. Enraged, Ventura beats the mascot while he is thanked on the JumboTron for saving Marino and Snowflake. Ventura briefly stops fighting Swoop and smiles as the audience cheers for him.
- Jim Carrey as Ace Ventura
- Courteney Cox as Chief Publicist Melissa Robinson
- Sean Young as Lt. Lois Einhorn / Ray Finkle
- Tone Lōc as Emilio
- Dan Marino as Himself
- John Capodice as Sgt. Aguado
- 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
- Judy Clayton as Martha Mertz
- 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.
American Film Institute recognition:
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs – Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
- "All-righty then!" – Nominated
Ace Ventura grossed $12,115,105 in 1,750 theaters in its first week. When it stopped showing in theaters in the US and Canada, the total gross was $72,217,396. It went on to gross $35,000,000 internationally.
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