Plot: Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey) is a timid bank clerk, used to getting pushed around and taken advantage of. He is a genuine nice guy, but his trusting nature just turns him into a doormat more often than not. After a series of run-ins with cruel bosses, crooked auto mechanics, and pushy club bouncers, he finds himself broken down on a bridge, when he sees someone in the waters below. Stanley leaps into the water to lend a hand, only to discover it wasn’t a person in the water, but some kind of wooden mask, with strange designs. Worn down from all the abuse he has suffered, he decides to put the mask for a little fun, but instead, he finds himself transformed into a green skinned, super powered living cartoon of sorts. He takes a little comic revenge on his landlady and others who have wronged him, then hits up his own bank to grab some loot. A crew of thugs is at the same bank to attempt a heist, but Stanley is able to make off with all the riches, leaving the mob in his dust. But as The Mask, he ruffles so many feathers, he starts to feel the heat in his normal life as Stanley. Can he leave The Mask in the past to keep himself out of trouble, or will the temptation prove to be too much?
Entertainment Value: The Mask was released as part of Jim Carrey’s meteoric rise, introduced us to Cameron Diaz, and was one of the earlier movies to make extensive use of CGI effects. This was an ideal project for Carrey, who has all the natural manic energy needed to fuel The Mask, as well as the over the top physical presence to anchor all the wild visual effects. This was based on the comic book series of the same name, which makes sense, as the movie plays out like a comic book style adventure. But this movie does take a less graphic, violent approach, opting for more of a Tex Avery cartoon, over the top wackiness. The approach works, as the movie feels like a living comic book or cartoon, bolstered by the wild visual effects and of course, Carrey’s enthusiastic performance. Diaz smolders in her screen debut, playing the vixen with skill and exuding charisma. Peter Greene plays the villain, but isn’t given much to do besides threaten and brood, while Peter Riegert is fun as a detective, Amy Yasbeck is a bright spot as a local reporter, and of course, Max is awesome as Stanley’s trusted canine, Milo. I think the cast embraces the madcap nature of the material and that enhances the entire experience, as it helps bolster the off the wall atmosphere. This is by no means high art, but it is a lot of fun and has held up quite well.
No nakedness. No blood. The movie features a good amount of violence, but it is all over the top, cartoon style conflict. So it plays for comedic effect, such as when orange juice fountains from bullet holes after The Mask is in a shoot out. So unless Looney Tunes frightens you, I think the violence in this one is under control. The dialogue has quite a few memorable lines that became part of the pop culture vernacular, some for longer than others, of course. But whether you find them cheesy or hilarious, some of the one liners are memorable, without question. Carrey is able to make simple lines and turn them into catch phrases, thanks to his eclectic performance. He is just so zany and over the top, especially as The Mask, which is when he rattles most of the movie’s more famous lines. So even if you think the writing is a little, less than masterful, you have to admit the dialogue deserves some credit. In terms of craziness, we have the cartoon style visual effects, which are common place now, but gained the movie a lot of attention when it first released. The effects are a little dated, but hold up about as well as you could expect, all things considered. Also on the wild side is Carrey’s amped up presence and the general zaniness of the material. Not an insane experience per se, but it deserves a couple points, I think.
Overall Insanity: 3/10