The year 1994 was a landmark frame in pop culture. Not only did it harbor milestone debut albums from The Notorious B.I.G., OutKast and Nas, but the OJ Simpson chase paralyzing America, Michael Jordan playing baseball, Nelson Mandela creating history as South Africa’s first Black President, the first World Trade Center bombing and Kurt Cobain killing himself all took place within a 12-month span.
Jim Carrey becoming not only a full-fledged star, but a household name in the process did, too. In a tidbit discussed in slightly more depth shortly, Carrey’s 1994 went down as one of the perennially spectacular runs for a comedian in entertainment history. And it all began with the release of his over-the-top, kooky Ace Ventura: Pet Detective which hit theaters February 4, 1994.
All kudos to the man, the myth, the Hennessy drinking legend that is Eddie Maisonet for coining the term “20 For 20” on pieces of mine commemorating 20-year anniversaries of pivotal moments in pop culture history (ESPN, too). With Pet Detective serving as a personal favorite childhood film, why not throw the film that helped spawn Carrey into a major player in Hollywood under the microscope.
1. Top Notch Quotables. There’s no denying 20 years later Carrey’s enveloping and eccentric personality was the film’s most recognizable feature. That and buddy had an endless supply of one-liners and jokes which not only made the movie a runaway success in 1994. It played a significant role into spawning Jim from former In Living Color funny-man to one of the most popular actors in the world.
2. Carrey’s Case Of Bad Luck. Speaking of ’94, Jim picked a horrific year to have such a seminal year. Jim pieced together one of the all-time great single-year portfolios for a comedian. Ventura hit theaters in February, The Mask in July and completed the trifecta closing out with the classic comedy Dumb & Dumber in December. After a run any comedian would kill to experience, Carrey failed to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Male Actor; an honor which went to Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump; winner), Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption), John Travolta (Pulp Fiction) and Paul Newman (Nobody’s Fool).
3. Dan Marino Finally Got His Super Bowl Ring. Because to hell with the Philadelphia Eagles.
4. The Backlash. Long since forgotten in Hollywood’s never-ending hallways, Ace Ventura had its fair share of detractors, most notably from the LGBT community. Transgender writer/activist Julie Serano took special exception to depiction of Lois Einhorn (who in the movie was former Dolphins kicker Ray Finkle). On February 26, 1994, the Los Angeles Times noted, “Consider the message you put out, Mr. Carrey. Whatever your intentions may have been, we gays have Hollywood and you to thank for yet another message of hate insidiously buried in an otherwise delightful movie. What a waste, what a shame.”
5. Guess Who Played A Role In The Ace Ventura Cartoon. The Ace Ventura brand became so strong an animated series went into production, producing three seasons between 1995 and 2000 on CBS and Nickelodeon. One of the early writers was some guy by the name of Seth MacFarlane. Needless to say, his career turned out somewhat decently.
6. Jim Carrey’s Second Successful Career. All I’m saying is this. To my knowledge, Carrey and Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle have never been officially confirmed in the same place, at the same time.
7. The Mental Hospital Scene. From the slow motion re-enactment, to contorting himself inside a box, Ace going undercover in Shady Acres Mental Hospital will never not be one of the film’s crowning moments.
My experience looking for my own missing kitty Norman is what led me to become a Licensed and Bonded true lie “Pet Detective.”
I know it’s what I was meant to do. I love reuniting “families,” and having gone through it myself, I completely understand how difficult it can be. Since I can’t help everyone personally, Pet-Detective.com is my way of being with you while you search for your pet.
There’s this, too. According to an Associated Press report in 2001, Pugh retrieved over 400 lost pets at no charge. That’s hustling backwards, especially considering doing so consisted of her posting fliers, excavating through mounds of garbage and going on stake outs out “suspicious homes.”
9. Send Ace Ventura A Friend Request. Not only does the movie an official Facebook page, but said page has nearly three million likes and its own shop. Can’t knock the hustle.
10. The laces told the story. Dan Marino went on to become one of the most celebrated NFL quarterbacks in history. Meanwhile, Ray Finkle faded into obscurity due to Marino’s alleged botched hold against the 49ers only later to resurface as Miami Police Department tyrant Lois Einhorn who killed a man after he discovered Einhorn/Finkle’s hidden treasure. But you know what? Finkle did have a point. The laces, no matter the circumstance, should always remain out.
11. Ace’s “I Told You So” Moment. These are the moments we all live for. The chance to show, prove and perhaps provide the proverbial (or literal) middle finger to the peanut gallery yearning for our downfall. Such was the case when Ace basically turned a suicide investigation into a homicide with Grade-A police work, embarrassing a few colleagues in the process. This is the sort of “I told you so” moment I was hoping for from LeBron in the 2011 Finals.
12. Carrey Stumbled Upon The Role By Accident. That’s because the original Ace Ventura was slated to be Rick Moranis. For whatever reason, he turned down the role opening the door for J.C. and the rest was history. Thank the heavens, too. Don’t get it twisted, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids was brilliant and Spaceballs commands a watch whenever its on TV. But a person would have to wake up pretty damn early to convince me Moranis would have done a better job as Ace than Carrey.
13. Only A fool Would Try. The most unrealistic part of the movie, aside from Ace surviving the shark attack while searching for Snowflake The Dolphin, was catching a bullet with his teeth during the car chase scene. It should go without saying, but for catching a bullet in such a manner doesn’t rank near the top of “best decisions to make in a shootout.” From Mythbusters:
Since this experiment would be beyond dangerous for a human daredevil, a deceased pig actually settled the score. Since pigs’ teeth and jaws are stronger than humans’, the MythBusters figured that if a porker couldn’t withstand a bullet’s force, a person couldn’t either.
Clamping the pig’s teeth around a bullet with a bite force equivalent to a person’s, the MythBusters then struck the bullet hard enough to simulate the amount of force delivered by a gunshot. As suspected, the bullet’s massive energy load was too much for the pig’s teeth to bear, and the bacon jaws couldn’t hang onto it.
Since the stronger porcine jaws couldn’t bite the bullet, the myth of it being humanly possible to catch a bullet in your teeth was shot to pieces.
Ace did that so hopefully you won’t have to go through that.
14. Carrey Vs. Ebert. In July 1994, the late Roger Ebert sat down with Carrey to discuss the negative reviews thrown at Ventura despite its overwhelming success in the box office. Ebert even goes as far to say he hated the film, but the piece is an interesting trip into Jim’s thought process behind the role, his early days and the backlash against him.
15. Paying Homage To Toronto. Before Drake – and to provide some context, Justin Bieber wasn’t born until nearly month later in March 1994 – Carrey was our neighbor to the north’s finest entertainment export. His landlord in the movie was Mr. Shickadance. While growing up in Toronto, Jim lived in a building managed by the Schikedanz Brothers, who may or may not have been total dicks given how the character was portrayed in the movie.
16. The Inspiration Behind Ace Ventura. Yep, the role was, in essence, a more in-depth account of Carrey’s “Overly Confident Gay Man” sketch from In Living Color.
17. Tone Loc Was A Legit Star. This won’t come as a surprise for those old enough to remember Tone Loc, but the pre-Jadakiss raspy voice MC was stacks checks from several different directions in the mid-90s. Starring as straightforward, hard-working cop Emilio in Ace, Loc’s relevance in the acting world was nothing make light of. The next Denzel he was not, but as the voice of Pee-Wee in Bebe’s Kidz, Poetic Justice, a recurring role in Roc and Heat alongside Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, that kind of resume speaks for itself. Don’t forget the short-lived C-Bear and Jamal either.
18. Quality Food Recommendations. There’s a 98% chance I considered trying New England Clam Chowder was because of its brief mention in the movie. It turned out to be a quality suggestion, too. NECC is pretty damn tasty.
19. The Numbers. By the time it left theaters, the film accounted for a worldwide box office north of $107M. Oh, and for good measure, Ventura also banked another $34M in rentals. Not bad for a movie with an estimated $12M budget.
20. Finkle and Einhorn! Finkle and Einhorn! Finkle and Einhorn! Having already spoke earlier on the backlash Carrey caught for this scene and the overall discourse of the movie, I get it. In today’s world, Jim would have to offer six or seven public apologies stating why he wasn’t what the movie portrayed and that he realizes his jokes can occasionally be harmful. And what’s about to be said likely makes me a bad person.
Lay down who you chose to lay down with, be happy with whoever you chose to be happy with, but I can never foresee a day when Ace finally cracks the code of Finkle being Einhorn and Einhorn being Finkle not being funny.