When I first heard about Ace Ventura Jr.: Pet Detective, I was very concerned. After Jim Carrey‘s hilarious turn as pet detective Ace Ventura back in 1994’s Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and again in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls in 1995, how could you introduce a kid movie into the series? Well, it turned it out it wasn’t as bad as I thought! (Not terrific, but not as bad as it might have been!)
Ace Ventura Jr.: Pet Detective features Josh Flitter as young Ace Ventura Jr., Emma Lockhart as his school-age crush Laura, and Austin Rogers as braniac A-Plus. Ace Jr. is of course afflicted with the Ventura curse — the need to help animals. As such, he is on the case when pets are disappearing from kids all around the school and for a string of famous pets goes missing, including a panda on loan from China. Ace’s mom (played by Ann Cusack), a trainer at the local zoo, is implicated in the disappearance and goes to jail… Who must save the animals and his mother? Ace Jr. of course!
Honestly this was a fun movie, especially for kids. Ace Jr. gets into and out of jams throughout the entire film, most of which involve animals. It was a good mix of slapstick and animal-related comedy.
You could tell Flitter had fun in the role as Ace Jr. He was in Nancy Drew as Corky Veinshtein with Emma Roberts back in 2007 and has done some voice-over work in Air Buddies, Snow Buddies, Horton Hears a Who!, and Space Buddies. He’s definitely a busy young teenager!
I found it interesting how they worked the Ace Ventura story into his background. Poor Ace is lost in the Bermuda Triangle it seems, but is in fact Ace Jr.’s dad. And Grandpa Ventura (Ralph Waite) came in to tell the lad of his family heritage. All of them had that weird hair disorder Ace suffered from, so it was kind of cute.
In addition to the movie, there are a ton of extras on the DVD.
The Gag Reel was actually amusing. Any time you have a movie with kids and animals, you’re going to have bloopers. Ace Jr. was no exception to the rule!
A number of Extended Scenes are also included. Most of them are pretty easy to see why they didn’t make the final cut, but a few are cute. There’s one with A-Plus and Ace Jr. in A-Plus’ secret lair in the school where A-Plus talks about his dad, a government agent, who disappeared at Roswell, NM. And another which looks like it should go at the end of the movie where Ace Jr. and Grandpa Ventura are asked by some Men In Black (MIBs) to help them with a missing animal case.
“Ace and His Animals” goes into detail about some of the many (and I do mean many) animals used in the making of the film. Everything from skunks and turtles, to monkeys, birds, cats, and dogs. Everyone involved in the film seemed to have a good appreciation for the animals, and the animal coordinator and trainer certainly had their hands full during filming!
“Ace Ventura Jr: The Inside Story” is a mockumentary, with interviews for a fake news channel (7 News) of various characters in the movie, including Russell Hollander (from the National Bureau of Fish & Wildlife), Pennington Jr. (classmate of Ace Jr.’s), Dr. Sickinger (scientist and main suspect in the missing panda case for most of the movie), Pennington Sr. (billionaire), and others. It’s actually quite a fun way to get a different view of Ace Jr.’s character.
“Austin and Emma” features Josh Flitter, Emma Lockhard, and Austin Rogers talking about working with one another and having fun. It appears they had a great chemistry on set.
“All Play and No Work” seems to be pretty much what the cast and crew did for the most part. The cast and crew filmed in Florida’s heat and humidity. The director, David M. Evans, really seemed to have a good connection with everyone and have fun along with them.
Finally “Now Introducing the Animals” is the obligatory “meet the animals” feature when doing a film with animals. The animal coordinator had his hands full between the kids playing with the animals and the animals themselves. They had quite an array, from rabbits and snakes, birds, and even an alligator.
And “Ox the Dog” focuses on Ace Jr.’s canine companion, Oxnard. His real name is Tyler, and he was in nearly every seen with Flitter. A very well behaved wire-haired terrier. All the cast seemed quite taken with the dog as more than just set dressing — as an actual pet actor! Even in wardrobe, he interacted with everybody to let the director get the shots he wanted.
I watched Ace Ventura Jr: Pet Detective with my two daughters (ages 4 and 8) and I think we all enjoyed it. We’ll give it a 2 out of 4 if you have kids… 1 out of 4 if you don’t. Be sure to check it out if you have kids who like animal movies!
p.s. Pick it up at your local rental store or at Amazon:
p.p.s. Don’t forget the classics with Jim Carrey!