If you were fortunate enough to be alive in 1994 and weren’t living under a rock, you, me and everyone else bore witness to something extraordinary - the making and stratospheric rise of a superstar.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes a movie comes out with a lead actor some might recognise but not know their name, then the film turns out to be a smash and suddenly said lead actor is in everything! The most recent example is Jennifer Lawrence. Think about it; in 2011 she was nominated for an Oscar. That same year she starred in not one but two major film franchises - ‘X-Men’ and ‘The Hunger Games’. Keep in mind this is before she even won. Then the next year ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ is released. She wins the Oscar in 2013 and from there she continues to release three more ‘Hunger Games’ films, two more ‘X-Men’ with another on the way, ‘American Hustle’, ‘Red Sparrow’, ‘Joy’, ‘Mother’, ‘Passengers’ etc. That’s 18 (and counting) films in the eight years since her first nomination. Did I mention that she’s only 28? My point is the public (myself included) seem to believe that because of the internet, social media, clicks, likes, anyone with a keyboard and magazine sale, that we make movie stars. But as J-Law showed, Hollywood knew about her long before we ever did. They banked on her before Oscars glory. We also forget that true movie stars have been around looooooong before the internet and today we celebrate the 25th anniversary of one of them.
Prior to 1994, he was just the token white guy on ‘In Living Color’ with standout characters like Vera De Milo the bodybuilder and Fire Marshal Bill - no easy feat when you’re surrounded by the entire Wayans clan, Jamie Foxx, Rosie Perez and a pre “J-Lo” Jennifer Lopez, just to name a few. He had small parts; you may or may not a have recognised him from ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’ and small quirky films like ‘Once Bitten’ and ‘Earth Girls Are Easy’ - little did we know the juggernaut that was soon to crash into our lives. I’m talking of course about the one and only Jim Carrey. But why is 1994 so significant? Well, besides it being the year that I turned double digits (very exciting), the cinema-going audience we treated to not one, not two, but three Jim Carrey films - ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’, ‘The Mask’ and ‘Dumb and Dumber’. Whaaaaa! All of them smash hits. All of them classics. All of them infinitely quotable and stalwarts in the modern lexicon. Again, you have to remember that movies take years to get off the ground and months to make. This means that Carrey made and starred in three major Hollywood films - all which have gone on to produce multiple sequels and even an animated television series - before anyone had even heard of him. That’s insane!
What’s also insane is that ‘Ace Venture: Pet Detective’ was made for a measly $15 million, just two years later Jim would command a $20million pay check for ‘The Cable Guy’. It’s also fun to note at in 2008 Carrey asked for $0 when making ‘Yes Man’ - because he’s so kind, benevolent and didn’t need the money? LOL no! He instead asked for 36.2% backend, so when the film ended up making $230 million worldwide, JC pocketed around $30 million. Sometimes you just have to believe in yourself, you know?
Carrey made and starred in three major Hollywood films...before anyone had even heard of him. That’s insane!
But back to ‘Ace Venture: Pet Detective’. This modest film co-written by Carrey and Tom Shadyac (also serving as director) bore a collaborative partnership thats fruits also gave us ‘Liar, Liar’ and ‘Bruce Almighty’. The success of ‘Ace Ventura’ was so great a sequel was fast-tracked for release just a year later, but with Shadyac busy on another project - a little film called ‘The Nutty Professor’ - Carrey brought in ‘In Living Color’ writer Steve Oedekerk to pick up the mantle... after original director Tom DeCerchio was fired. Oops. With double the budget ‘Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls’ brought in double the box office despite major production issues, and thus contributing to the never-ending pub argument - which film is better?
Often referred to as the “rubber-faced comedian”, Jim Carrey’s talents grew and went far beyond ridiculous comedies despite the fact that they will be his legacy. With award winning turns (two Golden Globes, sadly no Oscars) in ‘Man on the Moon’, ‘The Truman Show’, ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ and countless more, Carrey has proven himself to be a truly great and beloved actor. Despite a lack of Marvel, YA adaptations, (recent) DC Universe, Star Wars, Star Trek and simply not being Samuel L Jackson, the movies on his filmography prove Jim Carrey is still a major Hollywood player, having amassed almost $5 billion in box office takings.
These days, Jim has slowed way down after some personal tragedies and has turned his focus to art - the painting kind, with even a short documentary ‘I Need Color’ about his new found passion having been released in 2017. Today, the once-highest paid and bankable movie star can be seen on the small screen in ‘Kidding’ playing a children’s television icon, a role that recently garnered him a Golden Globe nomination.
It’s now 25 years since the release of ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’, and we should celebrate a quarter of a century of having Jim Carrey the movie star in our lives. And remember, the next time you go to the movies and see a familiar face on the screen and think “Gee, that guy/gal is in everything these days,” it might just be a Hollywood-induced Baader Meinhof letting you know the next movie star is on the way.