Ace Ventura’s back, sort of. It’s a new day. A new cast and crew. A new movie. And, unfortunately, a new Ace Ventura. This is Ace Ventura, Jr. Emphasis is on the junior. Without Jim Carrey, this thing was doomed from the start. Still, if you’re going to do it, I would have hoped that at least some kind of an effort would be in order. Alas, it seems that everyone involved knew this one wasn’t going anywhere so they just decided to have a great time and not worry so much what actually made it on to the film.
Director David Evans is best known for killing the Beethoven franchise with its third and fourth direct to video films. He did the same with the abysmally bad Sandlot 2. Evans is the place where mediocre comedy franchises go to die, or at least end up in direct to video cheap imitations of their former selves. If he had torn himself away from playing with the kids and animals long enough, he might have realized that he was killing yet another franchise. In the previous cases, I’d say he had a shot at 2nd degree murder, or negligent homicide. This time it’s a clear case of premeditation. He needs to be sentenced to life…away from a movie set.
Young Ace Jr. (Fritter) is trying to understand why he has this compulsion to save every animal he finds in peril. His mother (Cusak) doesn’t want to talk about his father. Animals are going missing around Orlando and mom wants Ace, Jr. to stay off the case. But when Mom’s accused of stealing a valuable panda from the zoo where she works, Ace just has to solve the case. Enter Grandpa Ventura (Waite) who attempts to nurture the Ventura spirit inside of the young boy. Of course, the case gets the usual complications and Ace relies on the help of his friend A-Plus (Rogers) and the girl of his dreams (Lockhart) to solve the case and free his mom.
If you’re looking for anything resembling the first two Ace Ventura films, you won’t find anything beyond the name and the surfer’s wave hair cut. The entire film is put on the back of young actor Josh Fritter. I’m not going to start unloading on the young actor; he’s likely doing what he’s told. Unfortunately he runs around the set like he’s hopped up on cotton candy overdoses. He talks in a frantic speech pattern that is intended to imitate Carrey, I suppose, but doesn’t come close. The entire film is an exercise in watching Josh run amuck. Courtney Cox was smart enough to stay away from this one as well. While Ace really couldn’t have been recast, his wife could. Ann Cusak takes over the role, and whatever she got paid, it wasn’t enough. The therapy bills alone are going to eat up a pretty solid chunk of change. Emma Lockhart does her part of being the “cute” girl that Ace has the hots for, but she’s not given anything more than the part of a foil for Fritter. The most annoying part has to go to Austin Rogers who gets to play the nerdy, but super smart cliché, A-Plus. The rest of the cast is your stereotyped elementary school kids and the bumbling adults who are always falling all over themselves. The whole thing is a solid waste of time, both for the cast and crew involved and for you.
Ace, Jr. is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. This is a typical film with over bright colors and an almost cartoon sheen to the transfer. At least it’s solid and comes from a pristine print. Black levels are strong.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is used mostly for silly sounds and music. Dialog is solid.
Extended Scenes: This 5 minutes of extra footage doesn’t really look much different than what was in the film.
Gag Reel: As if the film itself wasn’t one long Josh Fritter Gag Reel, here’s 3 more minutes.
Ace And His Animals: Cast and crew talk about working with the various animals in the film for 7 minutes. There’s plenty of footage of the various creatures.
The Inside Story: This 5 minute feature plays out like a news broadcast special edition. The various cast act in character to talk about Ace, Jr.
Austin And Emma: This less than 2 minute piece focuses on Austin Rogers and Emma Lockhart.
All Play And No Work: Just 5 minutes of watching everyone goof off behind the scenes.
Now Introducing The Animals: The trainers introduce you to some of the animal actors on the film. It’s 5 minutes of basic information on the little creatures.
Ox The Dog: Meet Tyler, who plays Ox in the film. It’s only 3 minutes.
Was this film really, really necessary? In the extras we learn the working title was Ace Ventura 3. I wonder if there was any hope at all that Jim Carrey would return, even for a cameo. Maybe that’s what happened. How else can you explain this poorly written, poorly directed, and poorly performed mess. Stay away; it won’t even entertain your kids enough to be worth putting you through watching it yourself. And, in the off chance your kid does end up liking it? You know what happens next, don’t you. You’ll have to watch it again. “Now that’s offensive.”