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Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls(1995)
Ace Ventura is back in an all-new adventure. This time an explorer named, Fulton Greenwall, gives him a new case in Africa to find the sacred bat of the Wachati and Wachootoo Tribes. It's up to Ace to find the sacred bat before the two tribes fight a savage war!
For more about Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls and the Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls Blu-ray release, see Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls Blu-ray Review published by Michael Reuben on August 31, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jim Carrey, Ian McNeice, Simon Callow, Maynard Eziashi, Bob Gunton, Sophie Okonedo
Director: Steve Oedekerk
» See full cast & crew
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls Blu-ray Review
The $15 Million Dollar Pet Detective
Reviewed by Michael Reuben, August 31, 2013
After the surprise success of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, a sequel was inevitable. Unlike New Line Cinema, the studio that made Jim Carrey's other 1994 hit, The Mask, Warner Bros. had taken care that its contract committed Carrey to reprise his lead role. (If you've ever wondered why Son of the Mask took eleven years and starred someone else, now you know; people were fired from New Line over the mistake.) Carrey was now a major star, but this was the Bob Daly/Terry Semel era at Warner Bros., when the studio built their projects around stars and was happy to let the world know about it. In a widely reported deal, Warner paid Carrey $15 million to return as everyone's favorite pet detective. The script for what came to be known as Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls was written by comedy scribe Steve Oedekerk, who had been one of the many hands involved in the first film before Tom Shadyac took the pile of drafts and shaped them into a movie. Shadyac himself either wasn't interested in returning or wasn't asked, and the original director, a first-timer named Tom DeCerchio, had barely started shooting when he left the project (whether voluntarily or not is unclear). Oedekerk immediately stepped in to direct his own script. The studio's faith in its replacement director was vindicated when the sequel did almost twice the worldwide box office of the original. Once again, though, critical and popular responses parted ways. When Nature Calls may be one of the few films to have been nominated for multiple negative awards, including a Razzie for "Worst Remake or Sequel", while winning popcorn trophies like the MTV Movie Awards (for "Best Male Performance" and "Best Comic Performance") and the Kid's Choice Awards (for "Favorite Movie" and "Favorite Movie Actor"). Movies have always been a democratic art form, even before the internet made everyone their own reviewer. On When Nature Calls, the people spoke, and their voice was decisive. So I understand the futility of saying anything negative about Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Still, it is my review, and I might as well state up front that, despite its bigger budget and glossier production values, I find the Ace Ventura sequel to be a dull and conventional comedy, enlivened only occasionally by a flash of Carrey's trademark insanity or a setup that actually pays off, which is the exception. Oedekerk lacked Shadyac's ruthlessness in the editing room and his instinct for pacing. He also missed what Shadyac instantly grasped, which is that Ace Ventura is funniest when he is placed in ordinary situations. Instead, Oedekerk made the basic error of putting the pet detective in exotic settings, where his cartoonish behavior seemed like an appropriate reaction to the even crazier behavior around him. There are moments in When Nature Calls where Ace Ventura is almost the voice of reason—and that's more frightening than funny.
The difference between Oedekerk's approach to Ace Ventura and Shadyac's becomes evident right from the opening of When Nature Calls. Parodying other movies is a staple of Ace's shtick, but in Shadyac's world the parodies are funny precisely because Ace pulls them out of thin air when you least expect it. (Think, for example, of his impression of Tangina Barrons from Poltergeist after showing the cops how they've misread the evidence.) But Oedekerk doesn't seem to trust spontaneity. He spends the whole credit sequence setting up an elaborate recreation of the mountaintop rescue that opens Cliffhanger so that he can insert Ace Ventura (Carrey) into the middle of it. It's the kind of thing the Zucker Brothers and Jim Abraham do better (and faster), and they generally don't make the mistake of lingering over it too long (as Mel Brooks sometimes does). Traumatized by his mountaintop experience, Ace retreats to a Buddhist monastery for a life of contemplation, until he is sought out by Fulton Greenwall (Ian McNeice) with an urgent task. An animal known as "Shikaka", which is sacred to the Wachati tribe in the fictional African nation of Nibia, has disappeared. If it isn't found in time to be presented as a dowry at the wedding of the Wachati princess (Sophie Okonedo) to the prince of the Wachootoo tribe, who is called "The Tiny Warrior" (Tommy Davidson), a bloody war will ensue. With some difficulty, Ace is persuaded to leave the monastery, accompanied by his pet monkey Spike, and take on the task of finding "Shikaka", who turns out to be a rare white bat. Once Ace arrives in Africa, Oedekerk surrounds him with an array of bizarre characters, including a British consul, Vincent Cadby (Simon Callow), who behaves like Queen Victoria still rules the Empire; Burton Quinn (Bob Gunton), the owner of a safari park; a pair of Australian poachers, Gahji (Bruce Spence, The Road Warrior's Gyro Captain) and Derrick (Tom Grunke); the rival chiefs (Damon Standifer and Sam Motoana Phillips); and, of course, the future happy couple whose union Ace is there to secure. The Tiny Warrior wants to beat him to a pulp, and the Princess wants him to instruct her in the ways of love. What's a pet detective to do? Why, find the missing "Shikaka", of course, despite a deathly fear of bats that somehow remained unmentioned in the first Ace Ventura film. In the process, Ace repeats all of his familiar catchphrases and appropriately mocks the weird behavior around him, but none of it generates anything like the laughter of the first film, because now it fits right in with the strange goings-on in Nibia. How can there be any contrast between Ace Ventura and his surroundings when he's dealing with a tribe where spitting in someone's face is considered a sign of affection?
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls Blu-ray, Video Quality
With a bigger budget and a higher profile came glossier "studio" cinematography, courtesy of veteran director of photography Donald E. Thorin (An Officer and a Gentleman). Warner's 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray supplies a clean, detailed and colorful image, with solid blacks, appropriate contrast levels and only an occasional hint of instability that betrays the age of some of the digital effects. Except in some African wildlife shots that look like stock footage, the film's grain pattern is fine enough to be barely noticeable, and it appears undisturbed by filtering or other mishandling. The average bitrate of 22.95 is somewhat lower than that of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. This is no doubt attributable to the change in aspect ratio from 1.85 to 2.39:1 (modified to 2.40:1 on the Blu-ray), which leaves less image to compress because of the letterbox bars. No compression artifacts were visible.
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The film's soundtrack is presented as lossless DTS-HD MA 5.0, and it offers some nice moments of surround separation during the opening shots involving a helicopter and in later African shots (in reality, North Carolina) where wildlife is all around. Bass extension is deep enough for the cries of larger animals to make an impact and for the score by Robert Folk (Police Academy) to have breathing room. The dialogue, such as it is, is clearly presented.
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Other than a trailer (480i; 1.33:1; 2:02), no extras are included. Warner's 1997 DVD did not include any additional extras, although its 2006 three-disc set of the two Ace Ventura films and selected episodes from the animated series did add TV spots.
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
One of the best known gags in When Nature Calls involves a mechanical rhinoceros that Ace uses to trail a suspect. When the machinery breaks down and he's trapped inside, Ace has to strip down and break through the membrane at the rear end. Passing tourists think they're witnessing a female rhino giving birth and are shocked when a naked man exits the beast. It's a gross but funny visual gag, but the man could be anyone. The humor doesn't arise from Ace Ventura's crazy cartoon personality. It's just another sketch that Oedekerk dreamed up (and doesn't time particularly well). Too much of When Nature Calls works the same way, and both Carrey's unique talents and the character he created are underutilized. Having paid $15 million for their star, Warner Bros. should have protected their investment by also paying more attention to the talent around him. Recommended as a Blu-ray. The movie is a personal choice.
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Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Ace Ventura: Pet Detective & When Nature Calls Blu-rays - May 22, 2013
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has announced the Blu-ray release of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and its sequel, Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls, both of which star Jim Carrey as the eponymous private investigator. The zany '90s comedies arrive on Blu-ray on September ...
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