Sunday, April 13, 2014

Nostalgia Theater: Jim Carrey Gets Even More Animated

Something akin to a sonic boom sounded when Jim Carrey's movie career took off. The plastic-faced funnyman had been around for a few years already, most visibly doing his thing for several seasons of In Living Color, but when Ace Ventura: Pet Detective hit theaters in February of 1994, right in the middle of my freshman year of high school, and blasted to a $100 million-plus global box office take against a $15 million budget, there was the unmistakeable sense that a star had been born.

That sense was pretty much confirmed by the follow-on successes that same year of The Mask that summer, and Dumb & Dumber that winter. And while Carrey had a pretty good run on movie screens for the rest of the '90s, another side effect of his rising star was how quickly his movie alter egos received animated adaptations. In fact, cartoons based on those three films all premiered in fall of '95, just over a year after his Ace Ventura's box office bonanza cemented his superstar bona fides.

The first of these animated offerings was The Mask: The Animated Series, which debuted on CBS in August of '95). Based on the movie (which was in turn based on the decidedly darker Dark Horse comic), the show further sanitized the already-sanitized persona of the Mask for the Saturday AM crowd. Carrey was obviously not in play for voicing services on any of these 'toons, but The Mask had a worthy replacement in veteran voice actor Rob Paulsen, at least as malleable with his tones as Carrey was with his face. Here's the intro:

Two months later, in October, ABC aired their animated version of Dumb & Dumber. This one was produced by Hanna-Barbera (in the manic animation style that had gained popularity during that era) and featured Matt Frewer (Max Headroom) and Bill Fagerbakke (Coach) providing the voices for Carrey's Lloyd Christmas and Jeff Daniels' Harry Dunne characters. Here's what that one looked like:

But that still wasn't it for cartoon Carrey, because in December of '95, CBS premiered the much-anticipated Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Unlike the other two series, this one was distinguished by the fact that the producers (Canadian animation house Nelvana among them) were actually able to get Carrey to sign off on the use of not his voice but his likeness (cartoon-ized as it was). Check out the intro:

As it happens, CBS aired The Mask and Ace Ventura back-to-back, which led to the novelty value of a Carrey-meets-Carrey crossover story at season's end, with The Mask's Stanley Ipkiss meeting Ace in a story that started on The Mask and continued on Pet Detective immediately afterwards. Check out part of the the Mask-Ace meet-up below:

While the various Carrey-inspired cartoons premiered with a fair amount of hype behind them, none really landed with audiences. Dumb & Dumber was cancelled after thirteen episodes aired. Ace was gone after 39 (though CBS cancelled it after two seasons and 26 eps, it aired for third run of new episodes on Nickelodeon in '99-'00). The Mask lasted longest of the three, with a total of 55 eps over three seasons. None of these shows are available on home vid in their entirety as of yet, but thanks to YouTube it's not hard to track 'em down and see what you didn't miss.

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