Although this wasn't Carey's debut movie, arguably it's the one that made him and a debuting Cameron Diaz famous. Our tale revolves around poor Stanley Ipkiss (Carey), who personifies the word loser, as he has no personality, no backbone and no real life. His only interest lies in cartoons from around the forties. Enter Tina Carlyle (Diaz), a glamorous, sexy blonde who just so happens to want to open a bank account with the bank where Stanley works, hence how the two meet. The opening-the-bank-account is a lie, as she is acting as surveillance for Dorian Tyrell, the boss of the club where Tina performs, as well as being a criminal (think Mafioso). Dorian has however upset the “boss” (Don type figure), as the club has been close to closing due to criminal activity, which ends with Dorian being given one week to leave town. It is on one fateful night, that after being ejected from trying to enter the club, Stanley discovers the titular mask floating in the river. When he eventually dons it, he is transformed into, well, something that mirrors his oppressed side and he starts to come out of his shell. Initially, he dishes out payback for those who have wronged him, but when the Mask robs the bank that Dorian is about to, it seems the Mask and Stanley are in for some trouble that's of the organized nature.
While this is a fun movie, I may well take the unpopular view that this is not the classic that some seem to think it is, indeed it is average at best, but it is fun. I don't particularly care for Carey's zany antics or his rubber faced gurning - reminds me too much of Phil Cool and I didn't care for him either, although Carey was very good in "Man On The Moon" and "Eternal Sunshine". The thing is, the movies' humour is primarily a form of physical comedy - slapstick and you either like or loathe it and I loathe it. I don't see how clever or that there is any funny element to slapstick humour and as this movie relies heavily on that, it makes it tiresome instead of funny. In fact, I'd argue that if you removed the glossy, but clever veneer of CGI from this, most people would see it in a less positive manner and become more critical. However, style over substance is certainly how this movie seems to have won its fans and I will admit that the effects are very good, but they are too heavily relied upon, as the viewer is always looking for the next effect or crazy Mask-filled scene. As for Diaz, she's good eye-candy, indeed she arguably makes one of the most well remembered entrances, with that red dress and long legs on display, but she isn't stretched acting-wise, mostly due to effects domination of the screen and when she does get a moment to shine, it's forgotten by the next CGI sequence or Carey's OTT flamboyancy. She's certainly been better in other movies, such as Being John Malkovich or even Very Bad Things, but for a debut, she's fine. However, I have to say that Milo the dog is incredibly well trained and it always impresses me when we have animals that are this well trained. I initially couldn't think where I has seen Peter Greene, who plays Dorian before, but it dawned on me that he was Zed from Pulp Fiction, if there was anyone else trying to place him as I was.
As stated it's fun, it's entertaining enough to spend 90 minutes or so watching, but a classic? Not by a long shot.
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