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The Mask

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Mask

Starring: Jim Carrey, Peter Riegert
Director: Chuck Russell
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: July 1994
Genres: Comedy, Action, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

*Also starring: Peter Greene, Amy Yasbeck, Richard Jeni, Cameron Diaz, Orestes Matacena, Timothy Bagley, Nancy Fish, Ben Stein

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

Stanley Ipkiss, whose letter to the local paper signed "nice guys finish last" had generated a torrent of replies the year before, has been undergoing a change lately.

Bank clerk Ipkiss, played with sweet sincerity by Jim Carrey, discovers a mask that, like Dr. Jekyll's potion, temporarily creates an all new person. To understand how the mask works, he turns to a masks-that-people-wear expert named Dr. Neuman, played with dripping sincerity and dead pan humor by Ben Stein. Although the doctor proves useless, Stanley finally discovers for himself what the mask does. It magnifies your inner desires. Since Ipkiss is an incurable romantic, who spends his free time watching cartoons, it is inevitable that the mask turns him into the world's greatest lover and song-and-dance man.

After avoiding Carrey for years, I was blown away by his performance in LIAR, LIAR -- one of this year's funniest films. Since THE MASK in 1994 was the movie that really launched his film career, I suggested we check it out one evening on vacation.

With the help of realistic and colorful special effects, Carrey, as The Mask, struts his stuff non-stop. When he meets his heart-throb, Cameron Diaz in her film debut as blond bombshell Tina Carlyle, at a nightclub, his heart jumps out of his body and his jaw drops open far enough for a yard long tongue to drool out .

Carrey shows off his ability to impersonate countless other actors and reenact their most famous scenes. When trapped by bad guys with machine guns, he pulls out two cartoonish, cannon-like guns with a dozen barrels each. "You have to ask yourself a question," he warns with a soft Clint Eastwood voice. "Do I feel lucky?"

Ha Nguyen's stream of elaborate costumes for The Mask sets the tone for all of The Mask's emotions. When The Mask is trapped by an army of police, he switches to a Latin costume and soon has everyone formed into a singing and dancing conga line.

In a highly imaginative film, the only surprise is how slowly director Chuck Russell paces the non-mask scenes. Although it never got the belly laughs out of me that LIAR, LIAR did, THE MASK delivers some well choreographed numbers and displays Carrey's talents well. Still, I must confess that my favorite character in the film was not Stanley, but Milo, his little pooch. Why cute animals like Max, who plays Milo, do not get more acting roles in the movies remains a mystery.

THE MASK runs 1:41. It is rated PG-13 for some cartoonish violence and some profanity. Most of it is so mild that the film should be fine for kids around 7 and up. My son Jeffrey, age 8, thought the show was "really good and funny." I recommend the picture to you and give it ***.

Copyright 1997 Steve Rhodes

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