The Mask

Movie Review #786: When you see someone having as much fun in a role as Carrey does with ‘The Mask’, you can’t help but go along for the ride.

★★★½
By Red Stewart
mask

Comedy, Crime, Fantasy
Rated PG-13 (contains violence, suggestive dialogue)
101 minutes

Jim Carrey is a name we all know and (mostly) love, but back in the 90s the aspiring comedian had to pull all sorts of tricks out of his hat to get public recognition. In 1994, that culminated in three commercial successes: “Ace Ventura”, “Dumb and Dumber”, and “The Mask”. Out of those three, I believe “The Mask” stands as one of the finest performances in his career, simply because Carrey does a great job in his dual role.

To clarify, Carrey plays Stanley Ipkiss, a down-on-his-luck bank clerk that discovers a strange mask. When he puts it on, Ipkiss transforms into a fanatical, green-faced being with the ability to do anything he so desires.

The trick to pulling off a double role like this is to make the two personalities distinct, as Christopher Reeve so beautifully portrayed in the original “Superman” films. It is in this regard that Carrey does such a fantastic job as well. Ipkiss is very introverted, preferring to stay in the background and not play the suave hero. “The Mask”, on the other hand, is the complete opposite, dashing into situations loudly with plenty of bang. When the gorgeous Cameron Diaz enters the bank to set-up an account, Ipkiss only hints at his infatuation with her. When “The Mask” sees her performing at the local club he’s frequenting, he literally turns into a whistling wolf and dances with her.

The special effects are very cartoonish, but they totally fit the whole film! It wouldn’t make sense if they were ultra-realistic because the movie aims for a camp feel to counterbalance the fully live-action scenes.

The story isn’t the best it could be, however it plays to Carrey’s strengths and that’s what counts. Though Carrey wouldn’t reveal his full versatility as an actor till the amazing “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, “The Mask” serves as a powerful way of showcasing Carrey’s ability to pull off crazy comedy, subtle comedy, and drama, and he clearly has a terrific time doing it all. When you see someone happy and having fun, you want to get in on the action, and that’s perhaps the best way to describe why “The Mask” is so endearing. ✴

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