Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

Hard to believe this movie is 21 years old, yet still as funny, sharp and clever as the first day it was viewed.  You wouldn’t think this would age terribly well but it is holding up extremely good.

Jim Carrey proved his comic genius when he burst onto the screen as Ace Ventura, the Columbo of the pet world.  Just as Mike Myers introduced many a catchphrase to the cultural lexicon with his Austin Powers, Carrey gives us a whole dose here too, Alllll righty then.   With a comedy routine that is more than just verbal routines, the physicality of Carrey adds to the whole persona of Ace Ventura.

The story centers around the kidnapping of an American football teams dolphin, a much beloved mascot that will be the key to the moral of the team for the upcoming Super Bowel.  We have a very young Courtney Cox (yes, Monica from Friends) aiding Ace as he uncovers and follows the clues reaching him to the final conclusion.

Each scene builds on the last as his outlandish personality steams through.  The one where is he is admitted to the local mental hospital to get to read confidential plans on an ex-patient is extremely clever and amusing.

You may have forgotten just how funny this one is, so it is worthy of throwing on upon one evening when you have nothing else to watch and just need to be in a mood of a laugh.

Laces out


Viewing Date
Saturday, 31st October 2015 (Las Vegas, Venetian)


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Clear and Present Danger (1994)

The 3rd outing in the Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series, sees Harrison Ford reprising the role for the second (and his last time).  Ryan dealt with the Russians in the first one outing, under the sea with the Hunt for Red October and then we had him fighting the Irish in Patriot Games.  Here we have him after the drug lords in Columbia after the Presidents close friend is murdered under suspicious circumstances.

Anne Archer reprises her role as Ryan’s wife, which sadly had most of her scenes not making the final cut.  Archer has this continual soft-focus look that gives her an air of classic screen icon.  We have a very young

Thora Birch playing his daughter which is fun to see.

Of course we have the voice that can make any woman’s ovaries jump up and down in excitement,

James Earl Jones, playing the Admiral that gives Ryan all the fatherly mentor-ship he needs to complete his mission and take over his leadership.   There is a great scene when Ryan, now head of the CIA, is in Columbia and buys a helicopter with a CIA credit card realizing he does have the power to do this now.

Sadly, even with the sterling cast (including

Willem Dafoe) this movie does not come anywhere near the level of the first outing of Ryan in Hunt for Red October (then played by

Alec Baldwin).   This movie has not aged terribly well.  There is a fun game you can play, which is spot the now famous actor getting their big break.   A number of faces pop up that were far from top billing at the time.

There are so many flaws with this movie that you simply can’t keep up.  James Bond we accept is very far from reality and we accept that universe.   But Clancy had managed to position Jack Ryan in a much more believable world. For example, The Hunt for Red October, (the only I will admit to actually reading the book) was rich in detail and depth.  This movie sadly, jumps the shark, as they say and fails to deliver.   If this was Bond, then this could be only referred to as the Roger Moore period (Moonraker anyone?!?!?!).

All in all, one of the poorest outings for Jack Ryan and one Ford should have stepped away from.  Worthy of a watch, only to appreciate just how further downhill

Ben Affleck

took the character.


Viewing Date
Monday, 26th October 2015 (San Francisco Marriott)


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Maverick (1994)

The original Maverick was a TV series that ran from 1957 to 1962 and featured James Garner in the lead role as a drifter gambler in the old west going from poker game to poker game.  This remake see’s Mel Gibson reprising the lead role, Bret Maverick, who is raising the final part of his $25k (or $600k roughly in today’s funds) entry fee for a very exclusive poker game.

A long the way, he bumps into southern belle socialite con-artist Ms Bransford, played by the delightful

Jodie Foster.  She gives Bret a run for his (literal) money as they are two peas from the same pod.   To complete the trio, Marshall Zane Cooper (played by

James Garner) joins in the journey.

Of course when you have James Garner in the remake in a leading role, you have to wonder if there is more to his character.  Of course there is, and not to throw away a huge plot spoiler, turns out to be Bret’s father.  This is fairly obvious, especially if you keep an eye out for some in-your-face cues (for example every time Bret says my pappy would always say the camera cuts to Cooper).

Maverick captures the vastness of the old west with wonderful sweeping panoramic views of the dusty west with intricate old style town and steam boat details.   Scenes not seen since the old John Wayne era of westerns.

There are some wonderful set-pieces that rival the stunts from the likes of John Ford in Stagecoach.   For example, the scene with the three of them in a galloping runaway coach, with a driver that has died, is not only impressive, but extremely funny in both physical comedy and dialogue.

Speaking of speaking, the dialogue in this movie is spot-on, with a flow and a natural delivery of lines that doesn’t feel like you are being fed a list of smart one-liners.   This movie has far more to give than the trailer undersells.

Annabelle: What is it with you and Indians anyway?
Maverick: Oh, nothing. I try and shoot one a day, if possible, before noon. How ‘bout you, Coop? I figure it’s their fault for being on our land before we got here.

This movie comes post-Lethal Weapon for Gibson, and with that, keep your eyes open for some nods to that series with some very well placed cameos.  There are a number, so if you think you have seen the one, there are more.

This is a big cast, with

Graham Greene reprising a very street smart post-DancesWithWolves Indian, Alfred Molina as Bret’s main nemesis and finally

James Coburn as the host of the final poker game.

A special note to the soundtrack of this movie.   It can be hard to track down the actual score of the movie, as oppose to the mainstream version of all the vocal tracks.  The score is infinitely better and breaths life into each scene.

This outing is not without its flaws but those shouldn’t be held against it for it is trying to do.  We forget that before we had Robert Downey Jr. playing the smart-arse good-looking cocky lead, we had Mel Gibson pioneering this role.   Lethal Weapon, Air America, Bird on a wire and Maverick all proved he had this genre mastered.   Though it was a crown he was to give up later in his career.

Being a huge John Wayne fan that grew up on western re-runs, this movie marked a nice nod to that era without over doing it.  Thoroughly enjoyable romp.


Viewing Date
Saturday, 12th September 2015


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