The Mask

1994, Movie, PG-13, 101 mins


THE MASK, a live-action cartoon featuring a thoroughly unrestrained performance by Jim Carrey, has a story so slight that it wouldn't be worth telling if it weren't tricked out with the best special effects money can buy, at least in 1994. The effects are show-stopping, but the film's hollowness makes the overall result curiously depressing.

Nebbishy bank clerk Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey) is one of life's perpetual losers. The highlight of his day comes when curvaceous bombshell Tina Carlyle (Cameron Diaz) wants to open a bank account, and declares that only Stanley's help will do. Unbeknownst to him, she's the girlfriend of brutal gangster Dorian Tyrel (Peter Greene), and she's only cuddling up to Stanley so she can secretly photograph the bank's vault. Everything changes when Stanley fishes a funny-looking mask out of the river. When he puts it on, he's transformed into a cackling lime green id in a canary zoot suit, a living cartoon with gleaming tombstone teeth who can go anywhere, do anything, suffer any punishment, and pop up unharmed. Stanley Ipkiss has become The Mask.

There's no denying that THE MASK's special effects are spectacular and lavish; there's scarcely a scene in which something eye-popping (once, literally) is happening, and those few moments of quiet are strangely dead. It's a pachinko machine of a movie: lights flash, bells ring, buzzers buzz, and things spin all over the place, but to no apparent end. Though the story has a certain universal appeal--who hasn't felt like a useless jerk and wished to wake up capable of anything?--the execution is oddly sour and distasteful. Nevertheless, presumably on the basis of Jim Carrey's appeal, the film was a smash success; the combined domestic grosses of THE MASK, ACE VENTURA, and DUMB AND DUMBER made Carrey the second biggest star attraction of 1994, just behind Tom Hanks. leave a comment

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