Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
Succeeded by: Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995)
Timing, coincidence and raw, unspoiled talent made Ace Ventura a unique, spontaneous and extremely funny experience - a document of the creativity and daring filmmaking which was allowed to surface in the early to mid 90s in general and 1994 in particular. It was the end of a period in which comedy seemed to have stuck in formulaic and meticulously planned situational films in which comedians like Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase and Steve Martin had lead the way with physical, but undaring performances. In Ace Ventura, there were some parameters clicking which made way for a new type of comedy for a new generation of filmgoers. Tom Shadyac's well-paced, confident direction coupled with Jim Carrey's groundbreakingly over-the-top lead made Ace Ventura an instant success.
Carrey had previously appeared in a handful of bit and supporting roles, but was most renowned for his stand-up act at the time of Ace Ventura's release. The key to this film's success was arguably Carrey's performance, which was diction and mimic oriented rather than being centered in more traditional aspects such as personality and dialogue. And this is what was so brilliant about Ace Ventura - Shadyac's ability to construct his often classic comedic situations and conventional (if tight) lowbrow detective story with Jim Carrey's absolutely trendsetting appearance. And with appearance, I don't necessarily mean acting - but rather the introduction of a completely new persona and behaviour. A behaviour which made way for an epidemy of more than a handful of catch-phrases across the world, including "All righty then", "Loser" and "Holy testicle Tuesday". There was, for natural reasons, never going to be this kind of freshness in Carrey's performance again. He was completely intrepid, full of youthful, untested energy, and loaded with improvised antics. A lot of these are now already golden moments in the history of film comedy - ranking alongside the best of Chaplin. Examples include one single by-pass string tone, a one-of-a-kind button hook pattern in super slo-mo, as well as a handful of detective skills. This film represents a rare moment in the history of film comedy.