Ace Ventura Pet Detective Jr.
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that kids will probably enjoy the slapstick humor of this animal-centric film, but that farting and poop jokes may garner more laughs than the rest of the script. The hero's dad is dead, and the mom is put in jail during the movie, leaving only a quirky grandfather to watch over the boy (which he does only minimally.) Kids get away with breaking and entering, and repeatedly disrespect federal officers. There are some nice lessons about being who you are, even if that makes you stand out from the crowd. Compassion for animals is central to the plot.
What's the story?
In this straight-to-DVD movie set 15 years after the last Ace Ventura film featuring Jim Carrey, Ace's son Ace Jr. (Josh Flitter) is following in Dad's footsteps, though doesn't quite realize it yet. His mother (Ann Cusack) works at a zoo and wants Ace to try to act "normal," but the 12-year old's passion for missing pets gets in the way. When Mom is arrested and jailed under suspicion of panda cub-napping, Ace Jr. recruits a few friends to help find the panda and prove his mother's innocence, getting a little advice on how to be true to his Ventura roots from his grandfather (Ralph Waite).
Is it any good?
For a movie that's nominally about being yourself, ACE JR. is a lot more appealing before Flitter starts channeling his inner Jim Carrey. As an overweight, awkward 6th grader who can't help helping animals, there's a real appeal to Flitter, as when he blurts "Oh my god you're pretty!" to a girl he likes and then claps his hands over his mouth in agonized embarrassment. Putting on his Ventura pants and coif may give him confidence, but it also makes him obnoxious. He is outplayed in that only by the school's token rich kid, Quentin Pennington Jr. whose bratty exclusiveness will be familiar to viewers of MTV's My Super Sweet 16.
For kids under seven, the subplots of both famous animals and family pets going missing alongside the aforementioned panda may get confusing. And there is a lot of very naughty behavior, like the destruction of a valuable dinosaur skeleton, that is brushed under the rug. This is OK for older animal lovers to see as long as there's some discussion of what behaviors are amplified for laughs and what would be acceptable in real life.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Ace Jr.'s devotion to helping animals.
How far do you think you would go to help a lost pet, and when does Ace cross a line that would put him in danger?
Do you think it's realistic that his classmates would be so angry at him because he offered to find their pets but didn't?