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With the success of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective in the can, Jim Carrey's stardom began its fast and high rise into the stratosphere of Hollywood. And with that fame came some power over just who would be behind Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, a decision that Carrey would later regret, because the person he turned down for the post ended up being a pretty big deal: Spike Jonze. Here's why Jonze lost out on the gig, according to Carrey:
I've been wanting to do something with Spike [Jonze] forever. I was stupid enough to turn him down to direct Ace [Ventura] 2, cause I had no idea who he was. And he came in and pitched all kinds of shit, and he was about to take over the world and I didn't know it. I was like 'I don't know, this guy's new.' And I've been kicking myself ever since.
It's kind of hard to think about just how just what a big deal hiring Spike Jonze would have been for the Ace Ventura sequel. Considering the fact that Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls was released in 1995, if Jonze had directed the film, it would have been his feature film debut. Not to mention that this was during the phase in his career where he was directing videos for Bjork, The Beastie Boys and Weezer, with both Sabotage and Buddy Holly being under his belt. To be completely honest and putting it into context, not hiring pre-Being John Malcovich Spike Jonze is probably one of the biggest missed opportunities in film history.
Then again, there's a chance that the resulting alternate version of Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls would have been something so weird, Warner Bros probably would have shut it down before it even shot. Even in the context of his music video career, Jonze's taste in humor was still as avant-garde as it was in his debut film. So while a case involving Ace Ventura chasing down the most famous missing pets of TV history might have been fun for all involved, it probably would have died a horrific death in the 1995 box office market.
Of course, depending on who you talk to about this revelation made by Jim Carrey to ScreenCrush, that might have been a better prospect than the film that eventually became the Ace Ventura sequel. With comedic wild man Steve Oedekerk taking up the writing and directing duties of Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, a sequel more appropriate to what the studio and fans were expecting was delivered. The film was a financial success, albeit a critical whipping boy. But if Spike Jonze had gotten his hands on the film, then we just might have received a movie that may have tanked, but would eventually become a cult classic over time.
All is right with the world though, as Jonze got to work with the comedic actor later, as he produced the recent documentary on Jim Carrey's performance in Man On The Moon, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond. With that film recently picked up by Netflix for distribution, maybe a successful roll-out might inspire the pair to work together on a fictional narrative. It's never to late to make up for a missed opportunity, especially considering that Ace Ventura is still up for a reboot. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right!