Who could have predicted that a film about a man with talking butt cheeks co-starring Tone Loc would have been such a hit at the box office? Besides being an incredibly successful film for Warner Brothers, it skyrocketed Jim Carrey to movie star status. (It also gave millions of 14 year-old boys the ammunition to annoy the hell out of everyone for the rest of the decade.) It was inevitable that he would go on to bigger things after In Living Color, but probably not even Carrey dreamed Ace Ventura would be his vehicle to $20 million per picture paydays only a few years later.
From Cannibal Corpse cameos to Ace Ventura’s Hannibal Lecter acting connection, here are 15 facts to celebrate one of the stupidest — and I mean that in the nicest way possible — comedies of the last 20 years.
1. Jim Carrey wasn’t the first choice for Ace Ventura. As difficult as it is to imagine another actor in the Ace Ventura role, Carrey wasn’t the studio’s first choice. Actor Rick Moranis was approached about the part, but chose to turn it down and do the live-action version of The Flintstones instead.
2. Death metal band Cannibal Corpse appears in the movie because of Carrey. Cannibal Corpse performed their song, “Hammer Smashed Face” because the Buffalo, New York band was a favorite of Carrey’s in his younger days. Part of the negotiation for his contract with the movie included a concert scene with the band.
3. Carrey also had an influence over the movie’s theme song. The theme was conducted by Ira Newborn and director Tom Shadyac wanted something similar to the Peter Gunn theme. Carrey approached Newborn about giving the theme song more of a “thrash-metal edge,” but test audiences found it too harsh and it was toned down considerably.
4. Ventura’s landlord is named after the landlord of the apartment building Jim Carrey grew-up in. Ventura has a contentious relationship with his landlord Mr. Shickadance, which is probably somewhat similar to Carrey’s own childhood. Carrey’s family had financial struggles when he was growing-up in Canada, and they lived in an apartment building managed by Schikedanz Brothers. Also Uncle Tio!
5. Ventura’s trademark phrase “Alrighty then” came from Carrey’s stand-up act. Ventura’s cadence and trademark phrase didn’t fully develop until after Carrey did several read-throughs of the script. Frustrated with trying to find the right tone for his character’s lines, Carrey used a voice from one of the characters in his stand-up act and applied it to his Ace Ventura table-read.
You might also notice Ventura’s similar manner of speaking to Carrey’s the In Living Color sketch, “Overly Confident Gay Man.”
6. Ace Ventura and Hannibal Lecter are the result of the same method of acting. In the movie, Ace compares Ray Finkle’s room to the prison cell of Hannibal Lecter in Silence Of The Lambs. When Carrey appeared on Inside The Actor’s Studio, he told James Lipton about his dinner with Anthony Hopkins and the discovery that they had both based their character’s movements off animals; Carrey’s on birds and Hopkins’ on reptiles.
7. Tone Loc was the biggest actor in the movie. As strange as it seems now, Tone Loc was the biggest name in the cast upon filming the movie. Carrey was still just a Living Color cast member at the time and Friends hadn’t premiered yet. Shadyac wanted a name with some credibility to pair with Carrey and Tone Loc sorta, kinda had that in 1993. Plus, he fit the budget.
8. Ventura’s cover as dolphin trainer Heinz Getwellvet wasn’t in the theatrical release. The entire scene of Ventura impersonating a dolphin trainer by the name of Heinz Getwellvet was cut from the movie’s theatrical screening and added back in for the VHS release with the always enticing “footage not seen in theaters” tag.
9. Ace Ventura’s “talking ass” came from In Living Color. According to director Tom Shadyac, he saw Carrey goofing around with his talking ass gag on the set of In Living Color and mentioned to him that he thought it would play well in the movie. The scene resulted in several people walking out during the film’s test screening, but ultimately stuck.
10. Those shiners on Randall ‘Tex” Cobb in the opening sequence weren’t makeup. In the commentary for the movie, director Tom Shadyac notes that actor and former heavyweight boxer Randall Cobb showed up to the set with bruises under both eyes. It was decided not to try and cover them with makeup and just film him as he was.
11. Replacement kicker Ray Finkle is actually Dolphin’s kicker Uwe von Schamann. In the movie Ace discovers Ray Finkle was to blame for the missed field goal that cost the Dolphins the Super Bowl after learning that Finkle was a mid-season replacement. The actual game footage is from a 1984 clip of Uwe von Schamann.
12. A pigeon attack on Ventura was cut from the film. One scene from the film followed Ventura flipping his car while chasing down Dan Marino’s kidnappers. Ventura is knocked out and a dream sequence begins with him catching the albino pigeon before being attacked and dismembered by an angry flock of pigeons. Shadyac decided the scene was too dark for the rest of the movie and it was left on the cutting room floor.
13. Ace Ventura has ties to the Catholic church. Woodstock’s nickname for Ventura is St. Francis, which is in reference to Saint Francis Assisi, the Catholic patron saint of animals.
14. Horrible reviews didn’t stop it from becoming a cash cow. None of the Ventura films have been popular with critics and the original was no exception pulling in a score of 45% on Rotten Tomatoes and being called a “long, unfunny slog through an impenetrable plot” by Roger Ebert. None of that mattered though to the public and the movie made back more than six times its budget of $15 million at the U.S. box office, grossing 72,217,396 in the U.S. and Canada.
15. Shady Acres Mental Hospital was named after the director. The mental hospital where Ventura goes undercover was named Shady Acres as a play on the name of director Tom Shadyac.