The Mask (1994)



This is probably my favourite Jim Carrey film. I do really love Dumb and Dumber, but there is something about this quirky superhero comedy that has always appealed to me. It is such a great vehicle for Carrey and his rubber faced antics, and the film makes such good use of his talents. When the film was originally released I remember the director saying that the way Jim Carrey could contort his face ended up saving the film millions from the special effects budget, and while I am sure there was some exaggeration happening there, it cannot be ignored that Carrey is the perfect actor to play this larger than life superhero known as The Mask.

Carrey stars as lonely nice guy Stanley Ipkiss. He is constantly stuck in the friend zone with any girl he tries to pick up and is generally crapped on by most of the people in his life. That is until he finds a strange green wooden mask in a river one night. When he puts the mask on he is instantly turned into The Mask, an outrageous larger than life dude with a giant green head. The Mask is basically a live action cartoon character, able to make anything appear out of thin air and make his body do whatever he desires. The Mask is the anti-Stanley Ipkiss, the complete opposite of this shy banker. After some fun getting even with thugs near his home, The Mask sets his sights on local crime lord Dorian Tyrell (Peter Greene). Stanley has the hots for Dorian’s girlfriend, Tina (Cameron Diaz in her big screen debut), and mostly just wants his competition out of the way. Can Stanley get the girl, stop Dorian, and stay one step ahead of the police, who are gunning for this new character in a bright green mask?

The Mask is not your regular hero. He is not very altruistic at all. Most of the things Stanley does when in Mask mode are quite selfish, but because they happen to include stopping a gangster, it is ok. The comic book that this film was originally based on is quite dark. The script was changed considerably after Carrey came on board. This was definitely a smart decision, you don’t hire Jim Carrey and make the character an unlikable douche (The Cable Guy anyone??). Carrey plays the part perfectly. He is believable as the dorky Stanley Ipkiss, but a massive ball of energy when he is The Mask. The film remains one of my most quoted of all time. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve yelled out ‘Smokin!!’. It is plenty.

The effects in this film are really great, too. Obviously some of this is due to Carrey’s ability to morph his face in any which way he can, but there were still quite a lot of computer generated imagery on show here, and it all looks great still.

Of course you can’t talk about The Mask without mentioning Cameron Diaz. She has never looked hotter. She has clearly thinned down since this film was released, but she has never looked better than how she does in The Mask. If I were Stanley Ipkiss, I’d go up against a dangerous group of gangsters to get her too.

One of my biggest issues with this film though is that nobody seems to notice that there is a man with a giant green head hanging around. He gets up on the dance floor with Tina and does a whole number with her ,and she just goes along with it like nothing is wrong. If some green headed chick tried to dance with me, I’d be asking some questions. This is not a huge issue though. The Mask sure is charismatic, maybe he just charms the pants off everyone he meets.

The Mask is Jim Carrey’s best movie. He is perfect in this slapstick superhero comedy. The Mask is the one role that Jim Carrey was born to play.

Rating: A

Of all Jim Carrey’s early movies, I find The Mask to be the most bearable to watch. I still don’t love it, but given the choice of this or an Ace Ventura or Dumb and Dumber, I’ll take this one any day. (But to be clear, I’d rather watch just about anything he made from Liar Liar to present. Please don’t make me watch this too often, Ben.)

I’ve never been a fan of Carrey’s rubber faced antics. I didn’t grow up watching them, so I much prefer his more serious work. However, he is perfect for a role like this. The character of The Mask is basically a cartoon, and who better than Carrey to deliver on this? I am impressed by how expressive he manages to be under all that makeup and prosthetics. Sure, his performance is aided by special effects and animation, but much of the heavy lifting is Carrey himself.

The Mask helped launch Carrey into stardom, but it also made Cameron Diaz a household name. She went from an unknown to a star overnight thanks to this film, and it’s easy to see why. Diaz is gorgeous, yes, but she also holds her own against her more seasoned costars. She’d had no acting experience before being cast and started acting lessons to prepare for her role. Some may still dismiss her as just a pretty face, but I think she’s great. She always looks like she’s having a lot of fun, and The Mask is no exception.

Overall, The Mask is entertaining. I just don’t find it to be very re-watchable. The first time was fun, I enjoyed the cartoon inspired visuals and wacky sight gags. But on successive views I find myself bored. It’s a nice send up to the Looney Tunes shorts I grew up watching, but it’s not quite as clever as those cartoons and brings nothing new to the table.

Rating: C

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