Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Director: Tom Shadyac
Writer: Jack Bernstein, Tom Shadyac, and Jim Carrey
Cast: Jim Carrey, Courteney Cox, Sean Young, Tone Loc, Dan Marino, Noble Willingham, Udo Kier
An overly transphobic and homophobic turd of a film from the mid-90's, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective commits the ultimate sin for a comedy; not only is it offensive, it isn't really all that funny.
When the beloved Miama Dolphins football team mascot (Snowflake) goes missing, the teams publicist Melissa (Courteney Cox) calls upon the services of Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey) to get the aquatic mammal back. His investigation will take him on a bizare path, one filled with twists and surprises.
There is a scene in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective where Ace Ventura, while searching for Snowflake, comes across a large aquarium. Instead of an innocent dolphin swimming inside, Ace Ventura finds instead a giant man eating shark. This moment is clearly intended as a sublime metaphor for the films tragic denouement. It's almost as subtle as the one featured in the opening scene where Ace Ventura is shown kicking a package down a hallway, thereby destroying the contents. This scene is clearly meant to tell the audience that the film ahead is an empty, soul eating endeavor that will completely destroy all that is funny or humorous in our world.
Or perhaps not.
So, in any case some of the higher ups for the Bush administration openly cited transgender/transsexual people as a security concern. What's amusing about this, is that they're concern could have easily been based off of a juvenile plot twist from this film. Never mind that if one wanted to change one's identity, it's much easier to change things like eye/hair/skin color then it is to go through the surgical procedures to change one's gender/sex. Height and weight are similarly malleable, but lord knows, nobody ever brings up banning spray on tanning products, hair dye, colored contacts, diet pills, or any of the kinds of surgery one could use to change one's physical stature or THE TERRORISTS WIN.
Sorry, but I digress.
In any case, if there is a transphobic or homophobic trope that this film misses, I cannot think of it. The main "twist" of the film revolves around the fact that one of the characters transitioned from male to female. Or maybe not. It's not clear whether or not the writers are even aware of the possibility of someone wanting to undergo surgery to change their sex for purposes other than deception. So we have "deceptive trans villain". Check.
In one scene we have Jim Carrey wearing a dress in order to intimate to a medical professional that he has a mental illness. This is on top of the numerous times there is dialogue blatantly stating that the villain is mentally ill. So, linking mental illness and transgender and transsexual identities? Check.
Then there is the scene where Ace Ventura gets all upset over the fact that he kissed a person with a dick. When he reveals this little factoid to the other police officers (the villain here also happens to be a police lieutenant) all of the police officers present react negatively, as if they too had been making out with the female lieutenant. So the idea of queer sexuality as gross and disgusting present? Check.
I could go on, but it's really not worth it. In the end, I could not help but think about how Jim Carrey, more than a decade later, would star in the excellent I Love You Phillip Morris. It got me thinking about the number of filmmakers who have worked on incredibly transphobic productions later going on to work on gay friendly ones. For example, Johnathen Demme making Philadelphia following criticism of Silence of the Lambs. Also, there were at least two episodes of The X-Files that could be considered gay friendly (All Things and X-Cops), but I Want to Believe contained an obvious trans villain. Off the top of my head, I could not think of a single counter example of a filmmaker who had worked on a homophobic film and had ever made another one featuring a positive transgender or transsexual character.
This pet detective can only be taken care of properly one way, with a pooper-scooper.
Zero out of ****
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