Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Mask (1994) DVD

Cuban Pete
Rating:  3 out of 5 Olde Tyme Music Numbers

Plot Synopsis:  “Loveable” loser Stanley Ipkiss finds a mask that grants him the ability to get all cartoony and shit.  He then spends the rest of the movie surrounded by assholes and special effects.

The Good:

-Jim Carey is Jim Carey, if that’s something that appeals to you then you’ll have a better time.  He is great as the loveable loser version of Stanley Ipkiss.  It’s a lot of mugging and he’s a very toned down Ace Ventura but there is definitely some Ace Ventura there.

-Richard Jeni is great as Stanley’s sleazy best friend Charlie.

-Cameron Diaz has never been better than in her debut as Tina Carlyle.  It’s really the only role I’ve found her tolerable in (besides maybe Something About Mary).  She’s smoking hot in the femme fatale role.  Not that her character is actually that deep but she works with what she’s got.

-Peter Greene is incredibly intense in the role of antagonist Dorian Tyrell.

-The mechanics are pretty funny.

-Remember when smoking was a thing in movies?  I sure don’t, until I watch something pre-2000.

-I like that they establish him as a cartoon fan.

-The special effects are great, both CGI and the make-up on the Mask forms.  I think it helps that the special effects are cartoony, by not trying to make them look real and then combining them with actual props they achieve probably some of the best examples of special effects of the time period.

-Carrey shines when he puts on the Mask.  The Mask form of Ibkiss is great, a living cartoon with an edge.  Not as much of an edge as the comic Mask but still an edge.

-Balloon animals in an alley.

-This is a good film for kids and adults, the adult jokes will just fly over the kids heads (they did for me) but the adults will appreciate them (I appreciate much more of the film now than I did when it first came out).

-The Mask gets revenge on the crooked mechanics by shoving mufflers where the sun don’t shine.

-“Can you tell me what’s going on here?” “No and you can quote me.”

-Every piece of The Mask’s wardrobe is great.  The initial smoking jacket and suit and then the yellow zoot suit, both are great.

-Tina’s song and dance at the Coco Bongo club.  She looks awesome and sounds great (actual singing was done by Susan Boyd, who sounds like what I would have thought Diaz would sound like).

-The music is great, every piece of music is fantastic.

-When The Mask takes over Tina’s song and dance, it’s well choreographed and backed by a perfect song 
“Hey! Pachuco!” by Royal Crown Revue.

-Pretty much every Mask scene is great.

-Ipkiss putting on the mask and nothing happening.

-When the police search The Mask and pull an infinite amount of cartoon junk out of his pockets.

-The Cuban Pete number is a classic.

-Dorian’s Mask form is pretty intimidating.

-“Not the cheese, the keys.”

-The dog is pretty adorable and talented.

-I like that there’s no definitive era in which this movie fits.  There are elements of the 20’s and 50’s swing, 40’s zoot suits but 90’s technology.  It’s similar to Batman in that way, there’s just a timeless feel to it.

-Milo the dogs Mask form is pretty cool and looks pretty good too.  It’s supposed to be cartoony and surreal so the fact that it doesn’t look real in the slightest is fine.  It’s a fun couple of moments plus he laughs like Muttley.

-Gangster Mask pulling out two huge handfuls of guns.

-No one but Carey could pull off the physical comedy required to play the Mask.  That is if you want your Mask to be a physical comedian and not the intimidating psycho of the comics.

-Hey, it’s that guy, that big guy with the pony tail.  He’s always a thug in 90’s movies.

The Bad:

-Your black and white tie is considered “bright colors”?

-They turn Lt. Kellaway, a character who was quite badass in the comics, into a joke.  The cops are incompetent caricatures.

-Why would anyone put on deodorant while wearing a shirt?

-There is no one in this world who isn’t an asshole.  Stanley and his dog Milo are the only decent people in the movie and even then they aren’t that decent.  Stanley is still mostly motivated by his desire to get a woman, women who he lies too and deceives on a pretty regular basis.  Tina starts out bad and sort of turns into his love interest, but it’s such a shallow character that she doesn’t really count and Peggy Brant starts out decent before turning into a greedy bitch.  Charlie is funny and well played but is the most obviously sleazy and terrible person in the movie.  There’s very little to like about any of the characters here.

-The origin of the Mask is more interesting in the comics, partly because it's never truly explained in the comics but the flashes we see of the Mask’s origin are much more interesting.

-The bad guys drop Ipkiss off at the police station and Ipkiss offers to explain everything.  Kellaway pulls a green latex mask out of Ipkiss’ coat pocket and says “Explain this.” To which Ipkiss says “Ummmm…” how about just say “The bad guys put that there.”  They have video evidence of what the Mask can do, put on the latex mask and demonstrate that you neither look like the Mask nor can do what the Mask does.

-None of the police notice Ipkiss holding a gun as he and the cop walk out?

The Ugly:

-In the dance scene we seen Diaz’s double, but only once, otherwise it’s pretty flawless, I thought Carey and Diaz did all their own dancing until I saw the double.

-When did Dorian get knocked on the nose?  His nose is bleeding right as he’s being taken away by the cops but up until that point he wasn’t ever hit on the nose that I remember.

-Dorian’s Mask form tongue looks pretty janky.

Final Thoughts:    This is very different from the comic.  In this case one isn’t necessarily better than the other, they are both good but offer very different things for very different audiences.  As a standalone property it holds up quite well.  Here he’s sort of a harmless Deadpool.  He’s constantly running his mouth, being sarcastic and fearless at the same time.  The movie’s rating really limits what he can do as far as violence to actual people the I think the story works its way around that pretty well making most of the violence either incidental (in the case of the one fatal injury) or making the violence consequence free (as with the mechanics).  But most of the time the Mask just threatens people with violence and then runs.

It’s kind of funny a sequel was never made.  Carey turned it down (as he has turned down every sequel) because his experience with the Ace Ventura sequel showed that there was no new challenge in reprising a role.  What’s funny is that comedic Jim Carey is essentially the same, you have dramatic Jim Carey who has limited range and depending on the movie they vary.  Jim Carey in Man on the Moon is probably the most range I’ve seen out of him but when you cast dramatic Carey you get much the same as when you cast comedic Carey.  Comedic Carey = Ave Ventura and Dramatic Carey = Truman Show and you just get various degrees of those two characters.  But when you cast Jim Carey as a comedian you get pretty typical Carey, you get mugging, the funny voices, you basically get Ace Ventura.  This is sort of the low end of the spectrum, he’s quite reserved, even in his Mask form (when compared to Ace), but it’s still the same Jim Carey you’ve seen in every comedic performance he’s done.  So really what’s to gain by turning down a sequel?  How is that not scratching your acting itch?

Anyway, the movie is pretty decent.  The acting is good, the effects are good, and the story is so-so.  For me this loses a couple of points because I would have much rather watched a truer to the comic’s adaptation than what we got but it’s still a good movie to sit and watch with a younger person if you want something on an introductory level.

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