Warner Bros./Warner Home Video .
R4 . COLOR . 94 mins .
PG . PAL
Jim Carrey, Mr. Rubber Face himself, is back in a sequel to the hit feature Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Now for a debate on sequels, and their rules, watch Scream 2, but all of that still applies here. Pet Detective is a highly enjoyable and funny film. When Nature Calls is just like its title suggests – painful, potentially messy, unfunny, crude, and set in the surrounds of a toilet. And that just sums up this reviewer's opinion of this film.
The humour (if it can be called that) just aims low, and hits even lower. There is nothing funny about a grown man dressed up with a wacky hair-do and far-out clothes going around pretending he’s wearing a prosthetic face mask. It just doesn’t do it. OK, some of you may be calling me a movie-snob, but sorry, it doesn’t cut it - it's not funny, just annoying. And it’s not just Jim Carrey. Films such as Dumb and Dumber and the upcoming
So that's where Jim Carrey comes from...
Bruce Almighty show that Carrey can be funny without returning solely to what made him a household name with his actions in The Mask. But most people still either love him or hate him. And with films such as When Nature Calls, The Cable Guy and Liar, Liar, they really don’t do him any justice. They make money, but honestly some audiences must walk out of the cinema dafter than when they walked in. With a script written around the antics of Carrey, director Steve Oedekerk applies his sense of humour to the film but he should stick with the Thumbation ideas and techniques seen in the Thumb parody series, as that is what he does best. Carrey’s overacting and crappy dialogue automatically lead towards an awfully painful film event, with one or two slight moments raising a smile, but otherwise we're left swimming distantly in an outlandish and lacking story.
After the events of the Pet Detective, Ace Ventura (Carrey) has gone into retirement on top of a distant mountain with a group of monks. But trouble is brewing, and Ventura is hired to recover a missing sacred bat whose absence will cause war between two tribes in a fictitious African country. And, of course, Ventura’s odd methods and kinky ideas create trouble, and a-trouble comes a-knocking for the best part of 90 minutes. Fans of Carrey or of the Ventura series, this is definitely for you. For younger people there may be some slight entertainment, but those wanting some wit, thought and cunning behind their humour may like to try something else, and leave this one for the true fans.
Presented in an anamorphically enhanced aspect of 2.35:1, this NTSC transfer just hits home a little too low. And not because of the NTSC part. Colours are extremely saturated, with some severe and disgusting bleeding occurring, notably through the redder areas, with some brilliant blues and greens, but terribly orange skin tones. Blacks are solid, but for this example, that is the problem as they are big, bold and b-ugly. Shadow definition was not defined in the Ace Ventura mastering manual, and the pages of clarity must also have been ripped out somewhere along the way.
DROP! DROP! DROP! DROP! DROP!
Either that or they were eaten by Jim Carrey in one of his odd fits. But the sharpness is just not there. To be more accurate, we should say that the softness is. Edges are softly rendered, with a very blurred appearance. The clarity then suffers, with a very mushy picture and the finer details just melt into the picture. Compression related artefacts pop up all over the place in the form of some icky posterisation and some aliasing here and there, but the softness of the image does a pretty good job at covering up any sharp lines that could be a problem. But on the good side... um... the subtitles are pretty, and easy to read. It’s odd though. With all of these problems, you would think it is a disaster to watch, but it doesn’t look too bad, the issue is that it just doesn’t look good. It’s very watchable (excluding content) but just not an example of a good transfer.
Now honestly, “who throws a shoe, man”? Is it that hard to stick a .1 channel to a 5.1 track, or at least matrix it down? It appears so, as the Dolby Digital 5.0 track in English has no LFE channel.
"I believe I can fly..."
So no tummy rumblings or window vibrations here, and at times the soundtrack can sound a little thin, but it does its job adequately. The two remaining tracks, both surround-encoded Dolby Digital tracks in Spanish and French are obviously dubs, and have no real use for English-speaking audiences. Dialogue on the 5.0 track is clear throughout, with superb diction (yes, even in a Jim Carrey film), and drives clearly from the centre channel. Surround channels are very oddly used for effects and quietly for the score, but one moment stands out. The spitball moment. This would have to be the clearest use of the surround speakers, and the best part of the transfer. Yes ladies and gentlemen, it all comes down to one measly sound effect. So even though there is no .1 channel, we still have a lovely sound effect. Sure it only lasts for a second, but it's still the highlight of the disc for this reviewer.
Wow, a lovely long list of extra features. Well let’s just hope you have your reading glasses with you. Two theatrical trailers have been thrown in, one advertising the popular predecessor Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, the other for Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. The remaining bunch of extra features is made up of text pages, including biographies as well as production notes with the following headings: Making a Sequel, The Look of the Film, Ace's Do, Animals, On Location and Reel Recommendations. These offer some slight insight into the film, but as always, featurettes would have been much more enjoyable than reading text on a TV screen.
For fans, this is great. For DVD collectors, this is not so great. The NTSC transfer is watchable, but does show off some big no-no’s, and the 5.0 audio is sufficient, but slightly lacking in 5.1-fullness. Extra features are hard to come by for older films, such as 1995, and text pages just don’t cut it – look at the 1993 film Jurassic Park which has a 'Collector's Edition'. But anyway, claws back in, ladies and gentlemen, the bitch is over and you can now continue on your way. And damn, I think I broke a nail too...