Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Mask (1994)

IMDb plot summary: Bank clerk Stanley Ipkiss is transformed into a manic super-hero when he wears a mysterious mask.
Directed by Chuck Russell. Starring Jim Carrey, Cameron Diaz, Peter Greene and Peter Riegert.

My sister was sitting in the room with me while I watched this movie. She can attest to the fact that I found it infuriatingly bad. (I kept screaming, "WHAT? WHY? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? WHO THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA?")

The thing is, it didn't *have* to be a bad movie. There are so many directions you could go with the premise. Apparently it was based on a series of comics where whoever put the mask on became a psychopathic version of themselves, and the stories were dark horror. That could work. Or it could be a superhero-esque story, with a special talisman that has bizarre side effects. That could work. Or it could be more overtly comedy, a tribute to classic cartoons with - and here's the important part - APPROPRIATE RESPONSES FROM THE SIDE CHARACTERS.

Here's the thing. You can't say "this is a cartoon character in the real world" and then try to create a quasirealistic group of underground thugs. Those aren't the kind of villains that show up in cartoons. If you *do* decide, no, you absolutely HAVE to have modern gritty action thriller villains in the middle of your cartoon, and they're going to be dark and scary and genuinely hurt people, then you have to have them respond appropriately to the fact that THEY JUST SAW A GUY SPIN GLEEFULLY THROUGH A WALL LIKE THE TASMANIAN DEVIL.

You can't have it both ways. You have to either make your other characters cartoony enough that they fit a cartoon world, or confused by magic enough that they fit the real world. Putting them both together makes the most frustrating movie of all time. I couldn't enjoy the cartoon homage because apparently NOBODY BUT JIM CARREY WAS IN A CARTOON. Everybody else was doing a straightforward crime thriller. Not a very interesting one, but certainly something that's full of characters that should react with surprise when THEY SHOOT AT SOMEONE WHO INSTANTLY TRANSFORMS INTO A MATADOR.

The experience of watching this was so annoying that I can't even remember anything positive about it. I just kept screaming at the TV. This is not a movie I care to ever think about again. 0.5 stars.

Flickchart: #1843 out of 1894, below Cinderella II and above The Christmas Shoes.


Travis McClain said...

I saw this during its original theatrical run. I was a teen at the time and I didn't think much of Jim Carrey's film work (I still don't, by and large), but for whatever reason, this wound up being the movie my family went to see.

I heard quite a bit at the time that I bore a strong resemblance to Carrey. I could easily affect a lot of his gestures and mannerisms, though I had little interest in it. I think if I'd thought he was funny at all, I'd have pushed that issue. Instead, I fled from it.

At the end of my freshman year of high school, I let a buddy talk me into signing up for Child Care Services class. He'd taken a home ec class with the same teacher and assured me that the chick-to-dude ratio was off the charts and it could be a clever way for us to meet girls. (I am not making up any of this.)

Anyway, one day while I was at one of the day care centers where we were sent to do hands-on work with kids, one little girl said to me, "I saw you in that movie." I naturally asked what she was talking about. She said, "You had that green stuff on your face."


The one thing that always stood out to me about The Mask was that it was the one time where the boy got the hot girl (Cameron Diaz) and the plainer looking girl (Glenne Headly) turned out to be bad. We're used to the really hot one turning out evil and the plainer girl being the good one.

Hannah M said...

I think I could have found Carrey's shtick funny if it had been part of a larger-picture movie. He really DID look and feel like a Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner type character, and if they had played that up all across the board, it could have been really entertaining. As it was, his stuff felt unfunny to me because it felt VERY out of place.