Ace Ventura was released around the same time as The Mask: The Animated Series, but was handled by a completely different animation studio. While the glorious green-faced mask-wearing crimefighter was being animated by the geniuses at Film Roman, this idea was passed off to Nelvana. Therefore, save for the one time where the shows had a crossover (called "Have Mask, Will Travel"), these shows really don't have much in common other than the fact that Jim Carrey starred in both movies. The humor is written a lot differently, the animation is done a lot differently, and basically we're dealing with two different products here. Hell, considering the animation company, Ace Ventura's show has way more in common with the Beetlejuice cartoon than anything.
I'll be quick to sum this whole thing up. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective takes off right where the movies left off, and involve Jim Carrey's character, Ace Ventura, solving animal-themed cases with his pet monkey Mr. Watson. It's a really straightforward premise that was incredibly easy to adapt into an animated adaptation, because if there's one thing animators can draw, it's cuddly animals. I actually really like the Ace Ventura movies so that might be a plus. Hey, don't give me that look; I can like crude humor too!
While not as well-remembered or loved as The Mask: The Animated Series (opinions of this show fluctuate more wildly than it's better animated brother), Ace Ventura earns itself the distinction of being the only one out of the trio of Jim Carry cartoons to be revived by another network. After the show ended its first run in 1997, Nickelodeon actually brought it back for a third season that lasted from 1999 to the year 2000. But, like most zombies, it quickly decomposed and fell apart, and couldn't gain any audience after rising up from its grave. I personally blame the fact that Nick never bothered to advertise the damn thing. I clearly remember watching Nickelodeon during that time period and not once did Ace Ventura premieres become any sort of priority with that station.
But let's ignore that. And what's the first episode I'll be dealing with?
Well, since it's Halloween and Buttons and Rusty had completely failed me in their Halloween special, I'm going with another episode dealing with witches. I was going to go with the weremoose episode because the concept was too tempting to pass up, but then I saw Which Witch was Which and now I'm irrationally angry that I didn't get to see some real witchcraft. Hopefully Ace Ventura isn't as big of a liar as Ranger Jones.
I will warn everybody. Copies of this show are hard to find, there's no DVD out of this show, I'm Internet-retarded in that I can't figure out torrents and never will, and the one copy I did find...has a very annoying watermark where the uploader was kind enough to write his name in big fat letters on the actual movie. Incredibly annoying, and I apologize in advance for it, but I can't fault him for trying to advertise the fact that he's the go-to guy for Ace Ventura episodes. This probably won't be the last time this happens, so just letting everybody know before people send me e-mails.
That being said, let's boil up some...
Airdate: October 29th, 1999
|It must've been hard to train the chili to write letters like that.|
Airdate: October 29th, 1999
Availability: Online Only
Right off the bat, the episode does the equivalent of running up to someone and randomly handing them a pumpkin pie, only instead of a pie, it's the fact that this cartoon contains actual magic. That doesn't make any sense, but that's probably because you have no idea how giddy I became when I saw actual gargoyles within the first few seconds of this cartoon. Hallelujah, I'm going to be dealing with a piece of animation that's going to have some actual freaking witches! None of that "oh, some character dressed up a witch and then we had a random song" like Buttons and Rusty pulled. Actual witchcraft! Wicca! Whoo!
Let me backtrack a little bit. The episode opens where we see Ace Ventura, our enonymous hero that we're going to be rooting for the next 20 or so minutes, sail through the air like a graceful swan over a spooky mansion gate and nearly flattening some gargoyles who spend their time by sitting absolutely still and trying to pass themselves off as statues even though they're in bright, primary colors. Already I can tell that I'm in for one hell of a ride.
|It's sad how I can barely bat an eyelash at this. I blame Dukes of Hazzard.|
Although this scene does serve a purpose. It's to let us, the little kids back home, know that this is a Halloween special with the subtlety of a croquet mallet to the balls.
|"Haters gonna hate!"|
I have to admire the guts of the homeowner of this place. She's not at all worried of an angry mob marching up to her house and burning her to cinders. Nope, she's just going to plant her big spooky mansion on a street that gives away her occupation, and if you don't like it, tough!
...or she's doing the whole "hiding in plain sight" thing. Either one works.
|Behold, the living fashion disaster, ready to claim his next victim.|
|"Do you accept the souls of childrens as a form of payment, Mr. Ventura?"|
Although, really, this is just an excuse for Ace to march around unheeded in the dark while something creepy messes with him, follows him, and does all-around creepy boogity Halloween-themed stuff. In his case, it's a sentient broom that somehow got lost on his way to the Fantasia audition and has been living in 1313 Witch Haven Lane ever since. This broom quickly became my favorite character in this episode, because when he walks, he turns the music into a faux Harry Potter soundtrack, with those twinkly wizard-y instruments accenting each of the broom's steps. It's so cute to watch.
|Ace Ventura and Broom! Together, they fight crime!|
Also, why would a witch have mummies? Rats, walking brooms, and an iron maiden, I can understand, but those random mummies back there just seem like they're taking up space.
|"I loved your first couple of albums, but come on, what the hell were you doing in Brave New World?"|
What's the cuh-loo? A scrap of mystery meat he found (and later licked, because this character is gross) in front of the iron maiden. Maybe it's me, but I wouldn't trust a hunk of "mystery meat" that's on the floor in front of an iron maiden. One, diseases. Two, the only thing that meat's going to tell you is the whereabouts of a missing Jehovah's Witness.
|"Are you going to picking anymore scraps off my dungeon floor or are you going to |
actually do the job I'm paying you to do?"
...why the hell would a high school student or faculty member even bring mystery meat with them if they're stealing something from a witch?
|That is one ridiculously sized banner there, high school.|
|"Wanna be the Catwoman to my Batman?"|
...huh, so that makes TWO Jim Carrey-themed cartoons where some geek in glasses turns into a sad talking fish man, because there's a reoccurring villain in The Mask called Fish Guy who reminds me of this nerd. Why is this a reoccurring theme with Jim Carrey cartoons? I don't remember any talking fish in his movies...
Also, pay attention, humble readers, because we've stumbled upon our cartoon's villain of the day. And, since she hates nerds, that logically means that she hates everybody reading this. Be warned.
|Sad thing is, this is the closest he's going to get to a real woman touching him.|
What's the joke? School cafeterias are nightmarish realms of disgusting foodstuffs and chefs that get excited when they receive a shipment of frog meat. Hah hah, cafeteria food! And what about those lines at the DMV?
This scene does highlight a pretty unique problem this show has. The side characters are quite often funnier than the tacky shirt-sporting man himself. This was highlighted earlier with Nerd Fish and now it's being highlighted here. For example, the cafeteria chefs who accidentally receive the biology lab's shipment of frogs sound like they crawled from the scummy backwater areas of Detroit and immigrated here so they can poison children and not be caught by the CIA. Tell me their backgrounds and then make them solve these crimes instead of Ace, cartoon! I will pay to see it!
|"Yo, Lenny! I think the County Department of Public Health is getting wise to us because they want |
to know where we stashed that health inspector's body."
Although now would be a good time to point out that one of the writers of this show was Seth MacFarlane.
|This is hot.|
And again, I want to know this side-character's backstory. What compelled her to devote her life's work to butterflies and why is she so needlessly aggressive? Is she doing it out of hateful spite of the male gender (because come on, she totally looks like a bra-burning, granola-eating hardcore feminist), or is she sincerely trying to protect the children that have been placed under her care? Because seriously, the way she dresses makes her look like some sort of rejected comic book villain with a butterfly theme. She should hook up with Killer Moth.
Think this doesn't go anywhere? Well, actually, it turns out the reason why Ace Ventura disrupted biology class and took the teacher's place is because he wanted to change the class from a frog dissection to all of the kids adopting the frogs as pets. Because he loves animals.
Hey, uh, Ace? No offense, but telling high schoolers that they need to take care of a pet is just a recipe for disaster. Sure, some frogs will be spared because that girl in the pink shirt looks like she's all for animal rights, but who's willing to bet that the guy in the mohawk ends up shoving his frog into the microwave after getting high off of Sharpies?
|Hate to be a party pooper, Ace Ventura, but most of the time, dissection frogs are dead |
when they make it to the classroom...
|"You could say this student here...is floundering."|
...hold on a second. I need a record scratch to properly describe my thought process, because he's raiding a high school girl's locker. That's just sick, man! We have a grown man, one that has never been seen on campus before, running around disrupting classes and then rooting through student's lockers. Talk about lax security.
Worse of all, he's making his monkey stand as guard. Because monkeys are adorable and kids love them. You know, even though a wild animal not on a leash in an environment where a lot of adolescents are in close proximity is just a recipe for disaster and pestilence. Also fleas.
|"I'm going to confiscate all of her gym clothes and perfume. For evidence!"|
For those not in the know, one of the big running gags in the Ace Ventura franchise (and I'm using "franchise" loosely) is that while he's fond of 99% of the animal kingdom about as much as he's fond of brightly striped pants, Ace draws the line at bats. Bats just gross him out. Because of this, Ace Ventura has to avoid DC Comics, can't play baseball, and has a strong aversion to vampires.
I do like how, in his constant flailing and overexaggerated acting (Ventura is hammier than a pig farm, I've noticed), at one point he tries to rip the bat's head off. Silly, Ace. Everyone knows you have to use your teeth in order to properly extract a bat's head. Has Ozzy Osbourne taught you nothing?
|No amount of therapy will ever make this screenshot okay.|
By the way, Bonnie reminds me of Winx Club. Just throwing that out there. Come on, the girl talks like a typical valley girl teenager and uses magic. In another show, she'd be the snarky protagonist for a team of magical girls just like her. Here, she's the enemy. Fate is a cruel mistress.
...also, way to do your job, Ace. In that last scene, you were trying to decapitate your client's missing pet.
|Man, that bat so does not match her clothes.|
|She even mutated his clothes to be in a more froggish green shade. What a generous witch.|
There's a pretty great scene that follows once the good witch spots their shapeshifted forms after they enter her house. In response to her saying that he's "run into a bit of trouble", Ace Ventura responds with "and you're the winner of today's Miss Obvious award". Because of that, I can't bring myself to completely hate this character if he says some pretty funny lines, even if his dialogue is mostly hit and miss for me.
Her voice changes when she turns back into her witch form too, which I feel is wholly unnecessary. It's not like Ace Ventura knows what her voice sounds like and could rat her out to any evangelists.
And where does the bat that sat on her hat (in a vat near a cat and a rat) go when she's in her disguise?
|Side-effects of witchcraft include the blueing of the skin and the sudden |
desire to dress in mismatched purple clothing.
Course, while he's doing this rundown, he still looks a little on the froggy side thanks to the witch's reduced power not restoring him completely back to "normal". This unintentionally creates some good old-fashioned nightmare fuel, because if there's one thing I didn't need to see, it's some guy with a frog throat and bulging eyeballs.
|"Every moment I live...is agony!"|
|And how does he avoid falling off that thing?|
|Man, look at how crowded that place is! There's almost three cars in the whole parking lot!|
And why didn't the good witch give Ace Ventura any weapons to fend off the bad witch? The amulet's the source of her power; she should have a Plan B in case something like this happens! Man, she should be happy it's only a little wisp of a teenager instead of, say, someone malicious enough to want to rob banks and instill a new world order.
|"I love shopping at Halloween Store, just as much as I love attending the Halloween Party and watching The Game!"|
That being said, I guess it's cool seeing that the amulet has powers beyond "turning people into animals", but really, she could've just turned Ace Ventura into a fish like she did with the nerd. Without a source of water, Ace would be doomed to suffocate and then no more problem.
Also, geez, Bonnie. I sure hope you're wearing underwear, young lady. I didn't watch this show for ass shots!
|On the bright side, the smear frames are loads of fun in this cartoon.|
Eh, at least it's not a gopher hole. Ace Ventura - 1. Darkwing Duck - 0.
And while they sort of fly around aimlessly through a mall that's about ten miles long on account of how long this flying scene goes, he questions Bonnie's motivations for stealing such a bat and amulet, echoing just what I was thinking. He figures correctly that the only place to get answers would be at the Halloween Party on her campus.You mean that advertised plot point that is clearly building up to something?
|...wouldn't falling three stories and then landing crotch-first on a broom hurt like hell?|
|...how did the kid get his head to have such drastic points like that...?|
In short, right after I see something I really like in this cartoon, it decides to prove me wrong. Fantastic.
|We all know someone in our life that's like this. And I'm sure we all hate that asshole's guts.|
Somehow this exercise in idiocy wins him a round of applause and he doesn't receive any punishment for the fact he's destroyed an entire table and smashed through several plates full of the school's catering. In real life, if someone did this, all they would've gotten was a police car ride and a complaint from the local SPCA for animal endangerment. In short, Ace needs some lessons from The Mask in how to be an annoying character without actually being annoying to watch. There is a difference.
And what the hell does this have to do with the missing bat and amulet!?
|"Yep, I totally made a parody of the chestburster scene from Alien. Problem?"|
Love the spooky dress, though, because it totally goes with her hair. Now that I realize it, I kind of like Bonnie. She's a brat, yes, but she's a fun character when she's possessing supernatural powers and showing off her odd taste in men. She needs her own show, right after the cafeteria chefs and Nerd Fish get their own shows.
|Oh god, that woman in the bottom righthand corner...|
...and how did she find out about the witch living in her city, anyways? I don't think people typically advertise that they practice the dark arts.
|"Yep, it's witchcraft! And I've got no defense for it."|
But hey, anything to give Bonnie a reason to summon something for him to fight. Even though she has that one monster guy standing right next to her and he happened to be pretty successful against this menace.
This doesn't make Bonnie happy at all, not when she's gone through so much trouble lying and stealing, and now, the kiddy gloves are coming right the hell off. She's not going to turn Ace Ventura into a frog, or even let her boyfriend liquify his spine. No, she has a special fate in store for him, one that she's going to enjoy watching. Why, she's going to summon a giant bat monster, and she does so by using the amulet to turn Tweety into the very thing Ace Ventura fears the most; a very huge, very angry bat filled with razor sharp teeth and an appetite for blood. Sure hope Ace Ventura carries a will on his person at all times, or otherwise his wacky, chestbursting ways are going to get splattered all over the floor.
|"My parents are deeeeeead!"|
Well, you'd be dead wrong thinking this, because instead we get one of the most boring climaxes I've ever had the misfortune of sitting through and, by the time it's over, you'd be on your knees, begging for the animators to please animate some more of the chestburster scene. I'm not joking. The fight they give you is probably one of the most yawn-inducing things ever and it makes me ashamed to even watch it.
Let me describe this fight in detail. The bat monster flies around and screeches but never actually doing anything. Ace Ventura will teleport from on the floor to on a hanging rope while yelling about how much he hates bats for the bazillionth time. Both the monkey and his broom sidekick helpfully ignore him and instead eat food off the ground. And somewhere, my body ejected my soul and I crawled into a corner to silently weep.
Long story short, to say that this cartoon has an issue with pacing isn't going far enough. I know I wasn't watching this show for its epic fight scenes, but the least they could do is not make this look like the saddest thing I've ever seen.
|He does that with all the neighbors.|
|Like a bat out of hell|
I'll be gone when the morning comes
For those keeping track at home, Ace Ventura fighting the bat took about three and a half minutes and Ace Ventura beating Bonnie took about nine seconds. This cartoon also doubles as an instructional video studios show to their future animators as to what not to do when they're staging a climatic battle sequence.
...and if he has the reflexes to just grab the necklace from her, why didn't he do that back in the school hallway instead of flapping his gums? Take care of the problem and then say the snappy one-liner!
|"Huh, you mean I could've solved the problem just by taking the amulet away from her? What a concept!"|
At this point in the production, I'm just happy the cartoon actually remembered the Dork Fish and showed him becoming a real boy. I wonder what his parents said when he came home after being missing the entire day, drenching wet and babbling nonstop about turning into a fish. Poor little geek's probably getting a frontal lobotomy even as we speak.
|Or he drowned to death in a water-filled cube of glass. Either way, that nerd suffered at her hands.|
That's right, after stealing the source of a crone's power, one that she relies on to do her occult powers that bend the laws of nature, she gets to just sweep up the front lawn. What a forgiving witch. I'm guessing this is all an act and, once Ace Ventura turns his back on the diviner, the charade will be over and Bonnie will be shoved into that iron maiden and then brought back as a shambling undead mockery of what was once beautiful and full of life. Sort of like what this cartoon resembles when you place it next to Jim Carrey's career.
And then, right when I thought it was never going to end, it ends pretty lacklusterly, with Ace Ventura just kind of hopping into his car (and literally hopping, because he's still part frog) and driving away. Happy Halloween, I guess.
...wait a second. The witch never fixed the fact that Jim Carrey and his monkey sidekick that never advanced the plot in any way are still part amphibian! The status quo hasn't been fully restored! They're still frog hybrids!
Oh, okay. I guess we're going to ignore this little tidbit and just assume that it gets fixed between this episode and the following episode. Alrighty then....
The Moral of this Cartoon
It's incredibly easy to steal from witches! All you have to do is find a local witch and distract her for a brief moment, and unimaginable power will be yours!
What can I say?
I kind of find this show annoying, to be honest. Ace Ventura is pretty grating after a while (probably because, unlike The Mask, he really tries to be a Jim Carrey caricature and it just doesn't work for me), and a lot of what he says just isn't funny. It's like most of the time, the jokes feel forced, and the parts where I did laugh were the parts where they just let the writing come naturally.
I feel the two biggest problems of this episode are really the jokes and the pacing. Even the funniest cartoon in the world can be killed by awkward pacing, and it really shows in this episode. I mean, I can watch really random cartoons and like them; it's just when you feel a scene drag on forever, it starts to get annoying rather than fun. That scene with the bat especially just about killed it, and I've seen plenty of shows where it was handled a lot better.
But despite that, there are parts that do work. The animation is pretty fun in its exaggeration, they have really fun side characters, and for every joke that Ace Ventura told that I didn't find funny, there was one that I did find funny. It just feels like something's missing. It's not good, but it's not mind-searingly awful most of the time (I say most of the time because that bat scene really tested my patience), so I could say it's just mediocre.
This is not a terrible cartoon. It's merely an annoying one. Can't see myself watching this for fun, and, even though the cartoons weren't made by the same company and happen to be from completely different franchises, when I was watching it, I was playing a game in my head called "Spot the thing The Mask: The Animated Series or even Freakazoid would've handled a lot better".
So yeah, bottom line, Ace Ventura places itself firmly between The Mask: The Animated Series and Dumb and Dumber: The Animated Series in terms of quality. Not horrible, but not amazing.