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Prime-Time Flicks

November 03, 1996|Kevin Thomas

As uneven as its farcical pleasures may be, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (NBC Sunday at 9 p.m.), a runaway 1994 hit, is capable of inducing a lot of giggle fits. Jim Carrey, whose tiniest expressions of physicality are so exaggerated that he makes Jim Varney look like Charles Bronson, refuses to be anything less than utterly inhuman on screen. Playing a celebrated finder of missing mammals, he's so over-energized from the start you keep thinking he'll wear out his welcome pronto; 90 minutes later it's still hard to take your eyes off his lunacy.

Beethoven (Fox Tuesday at 8 p.m.) is a pleasant 1992 doggie comedy--bright and slick as a shopping mall, with a big, lovable Saint Bernard conquering uptight dads and evil veterinarians--that benefits from Charles Grodin's effortless work as the papa, some attractive pups and canines and a general air of pleasant, unambitious simpatico.

Steve Martin has the depth with which to follow Spencer Tracy in the title role of Father of the Bride (ABC Saturday at 8 p.m.), the 1991 remake of the memorable 1950 Vincente Minnelli movie. Unfortunately, Martin's flair for comic smugness is blunted in the misfired telling of this tale of a middle-aged man marrying off his daughter (Kimberly Williams). As a result, Martin Short, as an effete, snobbish wedding coordinator, steals the show. Even so, there may be enough laughs to please Martin fans.

Touch of Evil (KCET Saturday at 10:30 p.m.) is the summit of film noir: Welles' mesmerizing 1958 portrayal of guilt, betrayal and Walpurgisnacht in a hellish California border town--ruled by Hank Quinlan, the omniscient, chili-loving detective who frames his suspects. With Welles ("some kind of man") as Quinlan, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Marlene Dietrich, Dennis Weaver and Akim Tamiroff, Mercedes McCambridge and Zsa Zsa Gabor. A baroque thriller, full of astonishing humor, wild flourishes and incandescent style.

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