It was written and directed by Steve Oedekerk, who had also collaborated in the making of the earlier movie. Original director Tom DeCerchio left after shooting began. DeCerchio and Carrey had severe creative differences, prompting the lead actor to lock himself in his trailer until DeCerchio was replaced.
After failing the rescue attempt of a raccoon in the Himalayas (a reference to the film Cliffhanger), Ace Ventura undergoes an emotional breakdown and goes on a personal soul-searching quest by becoming a Tibetan monk. He is approached by Fulton Greenwall, an African missionary working for a provincial consulate. Being that Ace's influence is disruptive to the monastery, the Grand Abbot eagerly gives Ace excuses by which to justify his departure. Viewers see monks dancing happily while Ace is leaving; an act that confuses Ace, who is oblivious to their low opinion.
Greenwall asks Ventura to find a sacred animal called Shikaka, which has become a point of contention. Shikaka, which is a great white bat, is a sacred animal for the Wachati and Wachootoo tribes of Nibia, a fictional, stereotypical African country. Whenever its name is spoken, the tribesmen must bow. Its name is presumably a contraction of two slang terms for feces; "shit" and "caca", possibly because the bat's guano plays a prominent role in the plot of the film. Accompanied by his capuchin monkey, Spike, Ace travels to Africa and returns to his pet detective work.
After arriving in Nibia and meeting with the head of the consulate, Vincent Cadby, Ace begins learning about his case as well as the possible suspects. Ace, here, must overcome chiroptophobia in order to continue studying the case. Coincidentally, Carrey's character in Batman Forever, The Riddler, is also afraid of bats. He travels to the Wachati tribal village, where he learns that Shikaka is meant as a wedding present from the Wachati Princess, who is set to wed the Wachootoo Prince. If the bat is not returned in time, the Wachootoo will declare war on the Wachati tribe. Much of Ace's activity involves eliminating various suspects and enduring the problems of dealing with the Wachati and the Wachootoo. This proves difficult, and is made more so by other incidents including attempts to kill him.
Reduced to the limit of his ability to solve mysteries, Ace consults the Grand Abbot via astral projection. Although the Grand Abbot is, at the beginning of the film, very eager to see Ace go, the Grand Abbot takes his presence in stride. Advised by the Abbot, Ace finally discovers that Vincent Cadby had taken the bat and hired Ace as a cover for his own crimes. Vincent Cadby plans to let the tribes destroy each other and take possession of their land, using the numerous bat caves containing guano to sell as fertilizer. Ace manages to thwart Cadby's plans.
Ace dramatically returns the bat to the tribes by running through their battlefield with it clutched in his hands, while repeatedly shouting its name. Cadby, who was covertly watching, is discovered when a Wachati prince sees him and calls out to alert the nearby warriors that a "white devil" is in the area. He is then pursued by both tribes, and eventually into the hands of an amorous gorilla. The Princess is married to the Prince, who earlier appeared as a champion wrestler sent to challenge Ace's presence in the tribe. Moments later, it is discovered to the tribes' displeasure that the young bride is no longer a virgin, apparently due to Ace's intervention. Both of the tribes promptly pursue Ace, concluding the film.
When aired in syndication, there is an alternate version of the rhino scene in which Ace stands up (after falling out the rhino) and shouts "Man was I lost!".
The UK release of the film features a number of cuts, totalling one minute and thirty five seconds for the theatrical release, plus a further three seconds when re-classified for home video. These cut scenes include:
However, during the projector scene, the U.K. version features Ace casting bird-like shadows with both hands, as opposed to the single hand in the original release.
This film was shot with super 35, so the fullscreen version is open matte, and reveals more to the top & bottom of the screen (sections that were not actually intended to be seen); however, it also crops the sides of the screen as well.