He's cruder than Bernard Manning, dumber than Jerry Lewis and about as funny as Freddie Starr. Jim Carrey, star of surprise low-budget smash Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, is also the hottest new commodity on spaceship Earth. After a bit part in Earth Girls are Easy (he's the alien with the long tongue coveted by the disco bimbos) and supporting TV work in Duck Factory and the funky In Living Color, Carrey has suddenly come of age: the media-literacy age.

He's Bart and Beavis and Butt-head made flesh, a living, cartoon character moving through a landscape sculpted from surreal sight gags. As Ace, he talks in catchphrases, his face bending and twisting like a malleable toy; which, essentially, is what Carrey is. If adult audiences are repulsed, that's the point. The little boys and girls understand, just as they understood Pee Wee Herman. And it's that huge demographic audience, not the studios, who have really rocketed Carrey's pay cheque from dollars 1m for Ace to dollars 7m for the forthcoming The Mask (from relative unknown to the Kevin Costner league in one flick - now that's a real joke).

Of course, if Carrey's career tanks, there will be a lot of omelette on sundry visages. But don't bet on it. See the film, if only to stand your ground at parties. Trust me. Much highbrow chatter will be devoted to a certain lowbrow comedian. . .

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