Comedian extraordinaire Jim Carrey co-wrote and starred in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective in the early ’90s. The quick one-liners like “Alrighty, then” and him literally talking out of his butt made the movie an instant success.
Courteney Cox played Ventura’s love interest, and former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino appeared as himself in this football comedy farce. The quirky film launched Carrey’s career into blockbuster hits such as The Mask and Dumb and Dumber. In 1994, Carrey became the second highest-grossing box office star behind Tom Hanks, making $20 million for his role in The Cable Guy.
Despite the accolades of fans around the country, critics weren’t impressed with the zany antics and mean-spirited humor. Considered to be transphobic from the start, many people believe Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is the most offensive movie of all time.
Jim Carrey as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Carrey has always been committed to making people laugh. Getting his start on In Living Color, he was the king of sketch comedy. His break-out role in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective made studios realize that stand-alone comedy could carry a film. The zany movie about a dimwitted detective looking for a missing mascot grossed $107.2 million at the box office, according to The Ringer.
The 1994 movie follows the antics of Ace Ventura, a detective that specializes in finding lost animals. He is hired by the Miami Dolphins to find their kidnapped mascot, a trained dolphin named Snowflake.
Possibly the worst movie ever made
Several issues make it an extremely troublesome movie from today’s lens. For starters, the insensitivity toward animals is mind-boggling. The premise is that Snowflake needs to be returned in time to perform tricks on command during the halftime show. There is no regard for the fact that the dolphin lives in captivity in a small swimming pool-sized tank. Slant Magazine refers to the depicted animal cruelty as “blind, archaic morals.”
The next offensive matter involves rampant insensitivity toward mental illness. Ventura goes on the hunt for a kicker, Ray Finkle, who was held responsible for losing the 1984 Super Bowl. He blames Marino for holding the ball “laces out” and has a spiraling decade-long battle with his mental health, which the film consistently mocks. Finkle’s parents say, “Dan Marino should die of gonorrhea and rot in hell.” The insults continue with Ventura, wearing a pink tutu, poses as someone with Down Syndrome. The whole thing is disturbingly unnecessary, but nothing in comparison to how the film shows utter contempt and disrespect for the LGBTQ community.
Insensitivity toward the LGTBQ community
Slant Magazine claims the film goes to drastic lengths to send a message that “being queer is a fate worse than death.”
When Ventura catches the culprit, it turns out that Finkle is really Lois Einhorn, a transgender woman. When Ventura discovers this, he recalls their sloppy kissing the night before, and goes into what Slant describes as a “violent burst of queer panic.” Ventura takes a plunger to the face, purges in the toilet, burns his clothes, and cries naked in the shower to Boy George’s “The Crying Game.” As if it couldn’t get worse, they strip Einhorn down, exposing her bottom half. The entire police staff starts spitting, realizing they also kissed her.
The whole horrid scene is despicable, even for 1994 standards. Critics from the Los Angeles Times said it was “needlessly raunchy and homophobic.” The Washington Post referred to the film as “a mindless stretch of nonsense.” Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune summed it up perfectly, saying that it “was an appallingly bad movie, a certain candidate for worst of the year.”
What Jim Carrey has to say now about the movie
Since its inception, the film has been criticized for the ignorant portrayal of transgender people. Podcaster Joe Rogan recently referred to the movie saying, “I didn’t realize how transphobic that f*cking movie is. All the cops are throwing up … It’s off the charts. Everyone is freaking out. It is so insanely transphobic.”
Carrey responded by saying, “That was an honest completely homophobic reaction from that character. It was basically making fun of homophobia. It’s ridiculous. I’ve got a plunger on my face because I kissed a dude. It’s ridiculous.” He continued, “In this day and age, it probably would not be done the same way. There’s a learning curve for all of us.”