The Mask Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz star in this ’90s US comedy. After being thrown out of the Coco Bongo nightclub one sad evening, timid bank clerk Stanley Ipkiss (Carrey) happens across a powerful Norse mask in the river which transforms him into a wise-cracking, zoot-suited, green-faced superhero.
With his new-found charm and powers, which include infinite malleability of his own body, Stanley chats up the gorgeous woman of his dreams, singer Tina Carlyle (Diaz), robs his own bank, outwits the cops and demolishes the local hoods. His extravagant nightly exploits attract the unwanted attention of Lt. Mitch Kellaway (Peter Riegert) and Tina’s boyfriend Dorian Tyrell (Peter Greene), who is trying to exert his own control over the city.
Consider what happens to Stanley when he puts on the mask. He is instantly transformed into a maniacal whirlwind of energy, dressed in a 1940s-style zoot suit – a cross between the Joker and Aladdin’s genie, with elements of the Shadow.
“The Mask” is a perfect vehicle for the talents of Jim Carrey, who underwhelmed me with “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” but here seems to have found a story and character that work together with manic energy. One of the key design decisions on the movie must have involved the Mask character’s makeup. It transforms Carrey’s features into a much larger, comic-bookish parody, but at the same time the features are still able to move in a lifelike way. The notes with the film explain that makeup expert Greg Cannom realized Carrey’s exaggerated facial expressions are part of his essence, and didn’t want them lost behind makeup.
The result is a movie character who seems half real, half animated.
And the director, Charles Russell, is able to use special effects to move effortlessly between what might be possible and what is certainly not, as the Mask whirls like a beebop dervish and triumphantly prevails in situations that would have baffled poor Stanley Ipkiss.
The story begins with Stanley as a hapless bank clerk, who is hopelessly besotted by a beautiful customer, Tina Carlyle (Cameron Diaz). She flirts with him in the bank while taking secret videotape of the vault for her boss, the slimy Dorian Tyrel (Peter Greene), who runs the Coco Bongo Club, where, of course, Tina is the slinky chanteuse.
Cameron Diaz is a true discovery in the film, a genuine sex bomb with a gorgeous face, a wonderful smile, and a gift of comic timing. This is her first movie role, after a brief modeling career.
It will not be her last. Her chemistry with the Carrey character holds together a plot that is every bit as derivative as it can be, and when she dances with the Mask the result is one of those scenes when movie magic really works.
The story otherwise involves Richard Jeni as Charlie, Stanley’s best friend at the bank, who introduces him to the mysteries of the Coco Bongo Club; Peter Riegert as a cop who notices the Mask’s tie seems to be made of the same material as Stanley’s unspeakable pajamas; and Milo, Stanley’s dog, who is at least as clever as his master.
The art design on the movie goes for the lurid 1940s film noir look of a lot of superhero comic books, and the Coco Bongo Club looks recycled out of “Gilda” and a dozen other movies with elegant nightclubs. Stanley’s apartment resembles a teenage boy’s bedroom; all that’s missing is a sign on the outside of the door saying “Keep Out! This means you!” The look of the film is as much fun as anything else.
The Mask Steel book Edition case.
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