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Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey) is a bit of a dorky pushover. For example,
he buys hot concert tickets to try to get a date with a fellow bank
employee he's been pining after, but she easily scams him into keeping
the tickets for herself, and he is too weak to publicly object. But
when he comes across an ancient mask of Lodi long ago discarded by
Vikings who tried to bury the "troublesome object" at the "end of the
Earth", he discovers it has the power to unlock his true self--suave,
smooth-talking, manic, a bit dangerous, and a hopeless romantic.
The Mask was a perfect vehicle for Jim Carrey. It not only allowed
provided the perfect justification to flamboyantly engage in his
rubber-faced antics in a manner even more over-the-top than what he'd
become famous for, but it provided an opportunity to stretch his acting
chops towards a more serious side at just the right time in his career,
paving the way for later work such as Man on the Moon (1999), The
Majestic (2001) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004).
The success of the film wholly depends on Carrey, as he has to sell his
characters' frenzied insanity so that it's believable as a reflection
of Stanley's inner self while at the same time likable but teetering on
the edge of becoming obnoxiously overbearing. Of course, the amazing
special effects and make-up help, as well as the clever script and more
than competent directing and cinematography, but with the wrong actor
in the part, the whole affair could have easily collapsed. The other
cast members are fine in supporting roles, with Cameron Diaz coming
across as being almost otherworldly beautiful, but Carrey is rarely
off-screen, and rightly so.
The Mask is notable for both spoofing almost the whole history of
cinema while at the same time respectfully paying homage to it. The
audience is treated to everything from silent film slapstick to lavish
musical numbers (with excellent songs), frenzied Tex Avery-styled
animation to gangster film suspense. On its surface, the film is a
crazy, often funny, hyperactively paced cinematic pastiche.
The subtext about identity and public faces versus private selves is
interesting, but not the focus. It would be fine to explore further,
but to do so in this particular film would have taken too much time
away from Carrey's surrealistic tour de force. Besides, we've had later
films where that subtext has been closer to the heart of a story, such
as Catwoman (2004), and where it was very thoroughly and competently
Many aspects of The Mask differed from the comic book source material,
but this is a case where the changes led to such an excellent result
that most people have forgotten about the source material and primarily
remember Carrey's performance in this film as definitive.
Tags for The Mask Full Movie
, Jim Carrey
, Peter Greene
, Peter Riegert
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