After the surprise success of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994) the inevitable sequel rolled out in 1995. Just as daft as the previous one, its barely coherent plot allowed star Jim Carrey to arse about in amusing fashion. Hurray!
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
The film starts out with a spoof of Cliffhanger (1993), where a raccoon plunges to its doom in a copy of the Sylvester Stallone action romp.
Following on from that tragedy, Ace has an emotional breakdown and goes into hiding at a Tibetan monastery. During his time of spirituality and enlightenment there, the monks grow to loathe him.
When British correspondent Fulton Greenwall (Ian McNeice) approaches him about a new case in Nibia, Africa, a hearty sum of cash convinces Ventura to abandon his newfound modest leanings.
As he leaves, the monks throw an enormous celebration. Meanwhile, Ace sends a slinky down the vast steps leading up and down from the monastery.
It’s a world record attempt, but the slinky stops on the absolute last step. We always liked that bit. Monty Python-esque. Along the lines of the Myth of Sisyphus, too, yes?
Once out in Africa, Greenwall explains a local tribe war is brewing due to the loss of the Great White Bat “Shikaka”. It’s a sacred animal of the Wachati tribe.
The Wachati Princess (Sophie Okonedo) is set to wed the Wachootoo Prince (Tommy Davidson) in a state marriage, but the loss of the bat is causing major tensions.
Unfortunately, it turns out Ventura has a phobia of bats. But he agrees to do the mission anyway.
He travels out to meet with the wealthy consul Vincent Cadby (Simon Callow) and takes an erratic detour, singing a marvellous verse from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on the way.
Minus Courtney Cox from the first film, When Nature Calls then does another fancy dinner party scene. It’s an excuse for Jim Carrey to pull funny faces and be ridiculous.
But we do like his joke about “the Monopoly Guy”, yet prefer this bit where his quiff blocks out the overhead projector.
With his new capuchin monkey friend, Spike, he heads out to unravel the mystery.
He meets the Wachati tribe and befriends the affable Ouda (Maynard Eziasha), whilst the Wachati Princess also makes a pass at him. Ventura is able to resist due to his spiritual vow of celibacy.
Other clues lead him to suspect the likes of Burton Quinn (Bob Gunton), a businessman. And that leads to what we consider the funniest scene in When Nature Calls.
This one had us in total hysterics when we were younger. Ventura somehow gets a robotic rhino and manoeuvres himself within earshot of a meeting Quinn has out in a desert.
Now, even in Africa if you have a furtive meeting and a rhino is standing about 15ft away you’ll be a bit alarmed.
But, whatever, the film has to be funny. And as the meeting ends Ventura attempts to escape the rhino. Calamity ensues.
After that disaster, Ventura’s other clues lead him to battle it out with the Wachootoo Prince. As he attempts to reason with the tribe, they view him as the “White Devil”.
All this stuff makes us realise Carrey was quite happy to ridicule himself for this role in a way we don’t think he’s quite done since.
Anyway, the film wraps itself up with a bit of enforced action as Ventura solves the case and returns the bat in time to avert the tribal war.
It then turns out Ventura did sleep with the Wachati Princess at some point and he’s left to run for his life as the two tribes bear down on him.
A very 1990s film ending, eh? But on the whole we’d say this is much better than Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
It’s still very stupid and more like a sketch show of Carrey’s funnier SNL moments, but it’s aged a lot better than the first one.
The plot makes little sense and there are glaring plot holes, but that’s not really the point of a goofball comedy. The point – is it funny? Yes, some bits of it are still very amusing.
It isn’t Dumb and Dumber by a long shot, but it does help raise Ace Ventura above a wacky annoyance.
But we’re hoping Carrey doesn’t decide this series needs a reboot any time soon.
We hope he learned his lesson with the largely atrocious Dumb and Dumber To (2014). Ace Ventura is a distinctly 1990s slapstick romp and, thusly, we think it should stay that way.
And in 2018 there were rumours of a potential third outing. Thankfully, Carrey has officially said he’s not interested in that. Alrighty then!
The first director for When Nature Calls was Tom DeCerchio, but the Morgan Creek Entertainment Group decided to hand Jim Carrey control over this. An indication of his star power.
He chose Steve Oedekerk in spring of 1995—turning down Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Her etc.) in the process.
For Oedekerk, it was his first big feature film. He went on to direct The Nutty Professor (1996). These days he doesn’t seem active in the industry.
The budget of $30 million may look weirdly excessive for such a daft film, but Carrey’s star power was in one massive ascendancy.
To ensure he took part in the sequel (as it was nothing without him), he received a $10 million paycheck.
Despite its largely African setting, most of the film was shot in America—South Carolina and in Texas. Well, the US is massive with various bits looking like far-flung reaches across the globe. Why not?
The film wrapped up $212.4 million at the box office. A smash hit and the fifth highest-earning film of 1995.
Critics slammed it once again, claiming it was immature, ridiculous, and not very funny. Carrey’s army of fans said otherwise.
To wrap up this brief return to the world of the bequiffed one, an adaptation for the small screen ran for a while. We didn’t watch it so can’t really comment there.
There was also a CD-ROM game in 1996. Given the popularity of the series with young lads in particular, we find it amazing no business bods cashed in with a game on the SNES or Mega Drive.
Well, there you go. Post-Ace Ventura Jim Carrey went on to the darker Cable Guy, daft Liar Liar, and then shifted into dramatic acting with The Truman Show and Man on the Moon.
We mentioned his refusal to reboot the series a bit above, which means it looks like the final outing for this series was a decade ago.
In 2009, the world endured Ace Ventura, Jr: Pet Detective. A film for kids, it took a critical panning and should act as the final nail in Ventura’s quiffin (coffin). Yeah?