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Son of the Mask Review

By Shawn McKenzie 02/18/2005

When I wrote my review almost two years ago of the 2003 movie Dumb and Dumberer, the “prequel” to the 1994 Jim Carrey hit, I actually liked it in a way, because it delivered on the goods of being a fun, dumb movie.  Apparently, New Line thought that the “just okay” profits from that movie (they made it for $19 million and it grossed over $26 million) justified the development of another sequel to another Carrey-led hit, 1994’s The Mask.  What we have here now is Son of the Mask, and though I didn’t like this follow-up better, it did manage to out-cartoonize the original.

The Norse God of Mischief, Loki (Alan Cumming), is looking for that famous mask from the original movie.  He is trying to correct a mistake he made a while ago by letting it slip into society, and his father, Odin (Bob Hoskins)…the one-eyed Norse God of war, death, and poetry…wants Loki to fix his mistake, so that the mask won’t cause any chaos.  Loki thinks at first that he has found the mask in a museum in Edge City (the place where the first movie was located), but art museum lecturer Dr. Arthur Neuman (Ben Stein) tells Loki that the mask is a copy (it says “Made in Taiwan” underneath it.)  After cartoonishly removing Dr. Neuman’s face from his body, Loki sets out to find the real mask.  Outside of Edge City is Fringe City, where aspiring cartoonist Tim Avery (Jamie Kennedy) lives.  He works for a cartoon development company called Animagine where he gives tours of the studio in goofy animated character costumes, but he aspires to make his own animated series.  He has an encouraging friend/co-worker named Jorge (Kal Penn) urging Tim to convince their boss, Daniel Moss (Steven Wright), to bring the head honcho one of his ideas, but he is blocked by Daniel’s assistant Chad (Ryan Johnson.)  Tim has other problems at home though, because his wife Tonya (Traylor Howard) wants to have a baby, but Tim would rather concentrate on his career.  He does treat his Jack Russell terrier Otis like a baby though, which makes the dog loyal and happy that he doesn’t have to compete for Tim’s attention (I think that you know where this is going.)  One Halloween, in search of a decent costume for the company’s Halloween party, Tim has to settle for an old mask that Otis had found, not realizing that it was the Mask of Loki.  When Tim gets to the party, he puts on the mask, and it turns him into the mischievous green guy from the first movie, full of confidence and shape-shifting powers.  As he enters the party, Tim performs “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” allowing fellow co-worker Sylvia (Victoria Thaine) to be literally swept off her feet into the arms of Jorge, and impressing Daniel, who thinks that Tim’s performance might a great cartoon.  Later that night, while still wearing the mask, he makes love to the very willing Tonya.  The next day, Tonya finds out that she is pregnant (in one night?)  Nine months later, Tim and Tonya become the proud parents of baby Alvey (twins Liam and Ryan Falconer.)  What they don’t know yet is that Alvey has inherited powers as the result of the mask.  His first indication of such powers occurs when he blows up his head like a balloon behind his mother’s back.  Otis soon becomes both suspicious and jealous, and he formulates a plan to take Alvey out.  Meanwhile, Loki finds out that a child has been born of the mask, and he breaks into the hospital’s records to secure a list of every baby born on that day.  He then goes down the list and tries to visit each household, hoping that one of the children is the son of the mask.  Back in the Avery household, Tonya has to go on a business trip, so she leaves it up to Tim to care for Alvey all by himself.  He is stressed, because he has to take care of the baby and continue developing his Mask cartoon for Daniel.  While working at home, Tim sits Alvey down in front of the TV and turns it on.  Inspired by the Chuck Jones cartoon “One Froggy Evening” (the one where a frog torments his owner by singing and dancing in front of his owner and not in front of others, inspiring the WB network to adopt the character as its mascot), Alvey then proceeds to torture Tim.  Many cartoonish-like things happen to Tim, destroying their house and what’s left of his sanity.  Their nosy neighbor Betty (Magda Szubanski), who has been watching all of this weird stuff from next door, calls Tonya home from her trip.  Loki, in the meantime, thinks that he has finally found the child that he is looking for, and after confirming his suspicions, he kidnaps Alvey, in exchange for the mask.  Tim and Tonya must now try to rescue Alvey back from Loki, who has become attached to the baby (Tim, in turn, has also found his love for his son, despite the destructiveness.)  He needs to find the mask, which has been used recently by Otis to get rid of Alvey, so that he can get his son back.

I can’t say that I really enjoyed the movie better than the first movie, and I have a few reasons why.  First off, Kennedy didn’t make as good of a Mask character as Carrey had.  The whole time I was thinking that he was just doing a pale imitation.  Secondly, the Alvey character looked like a version of the dancing baby from FOX’s “Ally McBeal” on speed.  The third reason I didn’t like the movie as well as the first one was that it was clearly marketed for kids, but some of the jokes were just slightly inappropriate for kids.  I’m not saying that it was nearly as bad as Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, but if they wanted to make it for kids, they shouldn’t have included scenes like a gross peeing scene and an Exorcist scene (complete with rotating head and vomit.)  I would be okay with these things if they were trying to go for the more adult crowd, since the original one was rated PG-13 (this one is just rated PG), but, because of the Home Alone-like nature of its family cartoon violence, it was probably always meant to be marketed for kids.

Part of the reason that it looked like kids might want to see it is because of its director, Lawrence Guterman.  He had made the creative kiddie flick Cats & Dogs in 2001, and this movie has his mark all over it.  While watching the movie, I thought that it resembled the old “Tom & Jerry” cartoons from the past (and its “T&G” successors, “Itchy & Scratchy,” from “The Simpsons.”)  The fights between Alvey and Otis brought out those memories for me, and they were certainly the highlights of the movie.

Aside from Kennedy, everyone else did just okay.  Cumming was funny, but he was just playing the same comical bad guy he had already played in the Spy Kids movies.  Howard, Hoskins, and Penn were all underused, and Wright was wasted.  Looking back at his filmography, Wright has only actually appeared in several glorified cameo roles.  I love him as a comedian, but really don’t think that he makes a good actor.  I would be curious to see how he would be if he was in his own sitcom though.

Son of the Mask won’t be one of my favorites of the year, but it wasn’t too bad.  It delivered on the promise to make itself more of a live action cartoon than the original had, but since they were going for the kiddie market, it might make their parents not completely happy with it.  As long as New Line doesn’t make a third Ace Ventura movie without Carrey, I think that I’ll accept the existence of this sequel.

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