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
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