The Mask (1994)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Mask</strong> (1994)

(Second Viewing, On Cable TV, June 2012) Now that The Mask is nearly old enough to vote, what can be said about the best of Jim Carrey’s three big breakout hits of 1994?  Mostly that it has aged better than anyone would expect.  Oh, sure, the 1994-era CGI is noticeable: There are numerous times where the live-action Mask is replaced by CGI enhancements, and from today’s perspective, the lack of fluidity of the seams are far more easily perceived today.  What hasn’t aged, on the other hand, is Carrey’s exhilarating rubber-faced performance as the unleashed id of The Mask –a green-faced transposition of Tex Avery cartoons.  The Mask is still a compelling character, and even the overused one-liners that everyone remembers are still amusing in context.  On a tonal level, though, The Mask has a number of problems: At its best (such as during its riotous “Hey Pachuco!” musical number), it’s a jazzy and harmless cartoon –at its worst, it’s a mash-up between violence and stupidity.  One could argue, for instance, that the silliness of The Mask should revolve around its masked character rather than in the idiot-plotting universe surrounding him.  There are also problems in the way some of the violence is handled too blatantly (although, reading about some deleted scenes, it could have been worse.)  Also worth noting is Cameron Diaz’s first big-screen performance: she looks amazingly good here, and she holds her own against an unleashed Carrey.  The thematic underpinning of the film are more than highlighted (the mask as self, the Tex Avery comics), but the film’s silliness doesn’t require a lot of subtext.  See it for Carrey and Diaz… and the Mask.

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