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Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was the first real Jim Carrey movie. He starred in a few movies before this one (like Once Bitten and Earth Girls Are Easy), but this was the first movie where Jim Carrey got to be Jim Carrey and go crazy. And he changed the face of movie comedy forever with this gem. Jim Carrey stars as Ace Ventura, a pet detective trying to track down Snowflake, the kidnapped mascot of the Miami Dolphins. He has a crazy haircut, an affinity for animals, and a habit of making his ass talk.

Nobody in Hollywood can do physical comedy like Jim Carrey. He flails his arms and stretches his rubber face and can do a million different voices. He is one of a kind. Courtney Cox, Sean Young, Tone Lōc, and Dan Marino all do a decent job in their supporting roles, but this movie is nothing without Jim Carrey. But director Tom Shadyac deserves a lot of credit too. Shadyac does a great job of balancing out the comedic mayhem with an intriguing mystery. It could have been a forgettable comedy, but Shadyac gives the movie heart, and that gave the film longevity. It’s an undisputed classic. It launched Jim Carrey into superstardom. It’s no wonder that Jim Carrey would team up with him again for Liar, Liar and Bruce Almighty.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is a milestone for a few reasons. It proved that unproven stars could create a blockbuster comedy franchise (The Hangover owes its existence to it).  It made dumb comedies smart again. And it gave the world Jim Carrey. It’s not a perfect movie, but it’s pretty damn close.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Masters of the Universe (film)

Sometimes Hollywood movies are just glorified toy commercials. Look at Transformers, Battleship, G.I. Joe… but it’s not a growing trend, it’s been like that for decades. One of the earlier toy commercial movies was Masters of the Universe, a cheesy 1987 sci-fi flick starring Dolph Lundgren as He-Man and Frank Langella as Skeletor.

The movie starts with Skeletor taking over the planet Eternia. He-Man and his pals manage to thwart his plans involving the Cosmic Key by sending it to Earth. Julie (a young Courtney Cox) and her boyfriend find the Cosmic Key and activate it without knowing what it is. Skeletor’s troops pick up on its location and it’s up to He-Man and his friends to keep it from falling in the wrong hands.

This is one of Dolph Lundgren’s best roles but he’s a little lost without Sylvester Stallone holding his hand. He looks like He-Man, he runs around being big and hitting things. He doesn’t speak much and when he does he sounds like Stallone. It’s kind of off-putting. Luckily Frank Langella handles most of the dialog. It’s always nice when a formidable villain is extremely articulate about exposition and repeatedly explains what is going on and what is at stake.

The movie doesn’t make much sense. There’s a half-assed plot and underdeveloped characters. Nobody learns anything. Julie (Courtney Cox’s character) actually regresses. In the beginning she’s grieving her recently deceased parents and getting ready to say good-bye to her boyfriend and leave her hometown to start a new life. That’s what you do when you’re a senior in high school: you leave home and you face the real world. But at the end of the movie Julie’s parents are magically brought back to life and she decides to stay. She didn’t grow as a person or learn from her experiences. She decided to retreat back into childhood instead. That’s not a happy ending.

The only reason to watch this movie is for nostalgia. Don’t watch it if you’ve never seen it before. You wouldn’t be able to appreciate its glory. And if you’re gonna watch it again, I recommend doing so with a lot of booze.

Critically Rated at 10/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Scream

Wes Craven’s Scream was the best horror film of the ‘90s. It is also Neve Campbell’s best movie (her best scene is in Wild Things though). This is a scary movie that also spoofs the clichés of the horror genre. It’s very meta and self-referential, but it does it subtly and doesn’t throw it in your face. It has a lot of funny moments, but no gags or jokes. It’s a horror satire, not a horror parody.

It has a good cast with Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courtney Cox, Rose McGowan, Matthew Lillard, Jaime Kennedy and Skeet Ulrich. Drew Barrymore has a brief cameo in the introduction. Spoiler alert: she dies. It was a surprise to see her bite the dust so quickly; you just assumed that she would be in the whole movie. It’s even more awesome because Drew Barrymore sucks and she should die in the first ten minutes of any movie she’s in (except E.T.).

David Arquette’s Deputy Dewey is goofy and provides some comic relief. But Jaime Kennedy’s character is the funniest in the show. He is a film buff and kind of a dork, but he knows the rules of scary movies. He knows what to do and not to do, what to say and not to say. He shares his knowledge with the other characters and the audience. If you ever get trapped in a horror movie and want to survive, you better remember Randy’s rules.

The movie is kind of dated now. The ‘90s hair and wardrobe are weird looking. If you have a cell phone you are a suspect. The plot still holds up though. The whole backstory with Sidney’s whorish mother and the wrongful incarceration of Cotton Weary was pretty cool. It comes up in the sequels too. The twist at the end where it is revealed that there are actually two killers was well written. But seriously look at how shady Billy Loomis is. Did you have any doubt that Skeet Ulrich was the killer? Matthew Lillard does a great job transitioning from being funny to being psychotic.

The Ghostface mask has reached iconic status. It is instantly recognizable, and it makes the Scream killer as identifiable as Michael Myers or Jason. The voice is what really makes it terrifying though. It could be anyone under the mask. The actors never met Roger L. Jackson, the voice of Ghostface, they had no idea what he looked like.

Scream is a cool movie. It’s funny, scary, and smart. It inspired a new wave of horror movies aimed at teenager and twenty-somethings. Urban Legend, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Jeepers Creepers… all of these are riding Scream’s coattails. Scream did it first and did it better. What’s your favorite scary movie? Probably this one.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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