Following the success of the Jim Carrey comedy Ace Ventura: Pet Detective in 1994, it was perhaps inevitable that a sequel would follow and indeed it did in 1995, with the release of Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls . Although largely
maligned by critics at the time, the film made over $200 million against its $30 million budget, and was a financial success for Warner Bros.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective had been passed uncut with a 12 rating for a British theatrical release in March 1994, and this rating has been retained for all subsequent home video releases since. In late 1995, Warner Bros. submitted Ace Ventura:
When Nature Calls to the BBFC for a theatrical rating with a request for a PG certificate; perhaps, in part, due to the fact that some children under 12 had seen the first film on video and TV and enjoyed the madcap antics of the Ace Ventura
character. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls had received a PG-13 rating in the United States for "crude humour", and it was this version of the film that came in to the BBFC with a request for a PG. However, the Board were adamant that
heavy cuts were required to bring the film in line with the family-friendly parameters of the British PG rating. In this edition of Cutting Edge, we'll be taking a look at the changes that were demanded of the film by the BBFC in order to achieve
a PG rating.
BBFC cuts for a PG rated cinema release
Cut Scenes: Racoon rescue
The initial cuts made to the film occurred during the opening in Reel 1, which shows Ace attempting to rescue a stranded raccoon from a mountaintop. Here, various shots of the animal in distress were deemed contentious, so for the British
version the BBFC demanded:
When Ace attempts to rescue racoon, considerably reduce close shots of animal whimpering and clinging to Ace before falling to its death (not funny to young children).
Cut Scenes: Shadow grope
Reel 2 saw the next changes, during the slideshow presentation in Nibia with Ace, Fulton and Cadby. The uncut version of the sequence features Ace making shadow puppet movements with his two hands in front of the projector that shows a
photograph of two hunters, and one of Ace's hands mimes gnawing on one man's genitals. For the UK version, the BBFC stipulated:
During slide show, remove all sight of shadow hand over man's crotch.
In order to accommodate this somewhat unusual request whilst maintaining continuity, the filmmakers made use of some alternate footage, which simply shows Ace's two hands fighting between themselves.
Cut Scenes: Showing balls
Later in Reel 2, Fulton and Ace meet the Wachati tribe. In the uncut version, Ace greets the tribe before leaning towards one man and telling him that his genitals are visible. Again, the sexual humour was too much for the BBFC, who demanded:
Remove Ace's dialogue to native African man: 'Your balls are showing'.
Cut Scenes: Spittle
Shortly afterwards, Fulton and Ace meet the Wachati chief who shows his affection for Ace by spitting in his face. Ace returns the favour in his usual over-the-top manner, snorting heavily before we cut to a shot outside of the hut as the
trio emerge laughing and covered in snot. For the UK PG version, the BBFC simply stated:
Reduce spitting sequence in sacred bat hut.
Just under 20 seconds of footage was removed, heavily reducing Ace's snorting and the subsequent sight of everyone covered in spittle. Only a brief indication of this remains in the UK's PG version.
Cut Scenes: Shadow stroke
Three more changes were demanded in Reel 3 of the film, the first of which concerns a sequence which shows Ace speaking with the Wachati princess. After she bares her breasts to Ace (an act which occurs below frame), he claims he is celibate.
We then cut to a shot of Ace alone in a nearby hut, which shows him masturbating in silhouette before Fulton walks in on him. Naturally this was unacceptable at PG, with the BBFC demanding:
"Remove all sight of man's shadow rocking vigorously to imply masturbation."
Cut Scenes: Eye movement
During Ace's interrogation of Quinn, another cut was demanded by the BBFC. In an effort to get Quinn to talk, Ace holds open his eyelid and pushes his eyeball to the side repeatedly with his finger. Perhaps concerned about imitability and the
somewhat gross humour, the BBFC cuts for this scene stated:
Remove big close-up of Ace pushing his eye-ball out.
As a result, the act is heavily shortened in the UK version.
Cut Scenes: Fast tracked delivery
Later in Reel 3, Ace is made to engage in various trials by the Wachootoo tribe in order to gain their trust. After Ace plunges his arm down a prostrate man's throat in order to pull out an apple core, Ace turns his attention to a pregnant
woman. After laying his ear on her belly, he presses down hard and the baby is propelled into a nearby man's arms. For the British PG, the BBFC demanded:
Remove all sight of Ace pushing pregnant woman's stomach and subsequent expulsion of foetus across hut.
As a result of this change, there was a rather obvious jump in the musical soundtrack, which ends up showing Ace displaying the previously-mentioned apple core before cutting randomly to a shot of the man holding the baby below frame as he
Cut Scenes: Trial by spear
The last change made to the film occurred in Reel 4 during Ace's final test in the Circle of Death. After Ace has two spears thrown into his legs and he collapses, a tribal member stands on Ace's groin and pulls out the two spears before
yelling. Here, the BBFC requested:
Remove close shot of foot in Ace's crotch.
All that remains of these events in the UK version is Ace falling backwards and a shot of the man standing holding the two spears aloft.
After the filmmakers had made the necessary edits, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls was passed PG by the BBFC on December 11th 1995 after 95 seconds of cuts. The film was later submitted in a pre-cut version for a VHS classification in 1996 and all
but one of the cinema cuts had been replicated -- the shots of Ace's shadow hands gnawing at the man's genitals on the projector. As a result, the BBFC informed the filmmakers:
In scene featuring slide presentation, remove all sight of hand shadow playing over male figure's crotch.
This change was duly made, and after three seconds of cuts the film was passed PG on June 4th 1996. A few years later, the UK cinema version was submitted to the BBFC again for a home video rating, and with no further cuts required of the film it
was once again passed PG on September 21st 2000. The cut UK cinema version of the film has remained the official UK version since it was first released in cinemas.
Uncut on UK Blu-ray
However, the story doesn't end there. In 2016, a double disc Blu-ray set containing Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls was released in the UK on September 19th . This set carried a 12 rating, since any collection of
films with different BBFC classifications must always carry the highest classification of whatever content is included. In this case, since the first film is rated 12, the set overall is rated 12. What isn't made clear on the packaging is the
fact that the version of Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls that is included in the set is the original, uncut version as released in the United States. At the time we went to press, the film had not been formally classified by the BBFC. This would
appear to be yet another uncut Warner Bros. release that has slipped out under the radar; a topic we have touched upon in some previous episodes of the series. The BBFCinsight on the back of the Blu-ray set states that it contains:
Moderate sex references.
Region Free releases of the uncut version in the UK (left) and the US (right)
UK fans wishing to get their hands on the uncut version of the film are obviously encouraged to pick up the Blu-ray set. For those wanting the uncut version on DVD, the Region 1 release in the United States was reissued on June 6th 2017 and
features none of the BBFC cuts. It is worth noting that Warner Bros. released Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls on its own on Region Free Blu-ray in the US in early September 2013, but this edition appears to be out of print. Fans in America wanting
to own both films can also grab the UK double Blu-ray set, as this too is Region Free and will play on any Blu-ray player worldwide.
Cutting Edge Video, Season Three, Episode 47: Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
Cutting Edge now in High Definition
All articles are original works compiled by Gavin Salkeld, with occasional help from a small team of researchers. Particular thanks are due to the BBFC for their diligent and helpful explanations of their interventions.