Son of the Mask

In 1994 The Mask of Loki started causing problems in the aptly named film The Mask. Eleven years later New Line Cinema has realized that, with no more forthcoming Lord of the Rings films, they need to start scraping the bottom of the barrel and thus a sequel to the Jim Carrey movie is born, and governments everywhere have a new method of torture to utilize.

This time around we are actually introduced to Loki himself (Alan Cumming) who is hanging out on Earth looking for his lost mask. This means harassing museum guides like Ben Stein (because in the perfect comedic world, Ben Stein is representative of every boring job in existence) and angering dear old dad Odin (Bob Hoskins). Odin demands Loki find the missing mask, which leads us to its new owner...

Tim Avery (Jamie Kennedy), like Jim Carrey’s character in the first movie, has a wild imagination and a terrier. For the sequel they’ve gone Kyle Rainer with the lead character making him not just a fan of cartoons, but an actual artist and aspiring cartoonist as well. Unfortunately for Tim, who is a giant kid at heart, his wife Tonya (Traylor Howard) wants to have a baby. Add on top of that Tim’s attempts to get noticed at work so he can stop wearing a cartoon costume and start drawing, and you have the same formula from the first movie - lead character is discontent with job and personal life, lacks confidence, and owns a dog. Of course finding the magical mask solves all of these problems and Tim is noticed in no time by his boss who thinks the green faced character Tim becomes is a new idea for a cartoon. Yes, the mask solves every problem except one - when Tim was wearing the mask he and his wife conceived their first child. Gee, hope there are no side effects!

But, of course, there are. The child is born “of the mask”, which is a funny way to say he’s born with the powers the mask usually bestows upon its wearer. This infuriates Odin, who increases his pressure on Loki to get the mask back (but surprisingly doesn’t seem to care about the baby), and leads to tons of hilarious antics as Tim tries to deal with a baby who can do the impossible - like mimic Michigan J. Frog, or poop a lot, or become a urine fountain. Yup, that’s about right. Two out of every three jokes in Son of the Mask appear to be required to relate to a bodily function, and you quickly find yourself impressed the creators of this movie managed to wait ten whole minutes before resorting to the first fart joke.

As if a baby who has the powers of the mask isn’t enough, Tim’s dog gets jealous of the attention the new baby is getting and dons the mask, creating more of the super “masked” dog we got a brief look at in the first film. The fighting between the dog and the baby practically destroys the house as their battle quickly reaches Wile E. Coyote vs. Roadrunner levels, only not as funny, or as well animated, or as interesting.

When the Jim Carrey version of The Mask became a success there was instantly talk of following it up, and perhaps a sequel within a reasonable amount of time starring the same cast as the original may have worked. This catastrophe on cellulose doesn’t. There are so many things wrong with Son of the Mask, it’s hard to find a place to begin. But, since The Mask was the beginning for this (hopefully now-dead) franchise, let’s start with that. Everything that was funny about the first film is blatantly ripped off with total disregard to the original in this sequel. You want a mask that transforms into a cowboy, a disco dancer, whirlwinds around, does Tex-Avery style “ah-ooga” double takes, pulls out enormous guns from his pockets, and makes everyone dance around to a hot latin number? You’ve got it... well, let’s not rip off the original completely, so we’ll change the musical number to a monstrously bad remix of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”. And you know what? All of that is just in the brief, yet torturous time Jamie Kennedy is the one in the mask, and also happens to be the only place Kennedy is at all comfortable in this movie. When he’s wearing the mask and allowed to be zany he enters Game Show Host mode, which really is too low key compared to how over the top the baby and Loki are when using their powers. The rest of the time he’s supposed to be the film’s straight man, but Kennedy has lost whatever made his style work in the Scream franchise and seems horribly out of place. Carrey could pull off the two sides of the character in his film - awkward zero to outrageous hero. Kennedy appears equally lost playing zero or quasi-out-there-and-thankfully-barely-seen hero.

Even though special effects have grown leaps and bounds since 1994, the visual effects of Son of the Mask are significantly less impressive than the original. The mask makeup looks harsh, awkward and uncomfortable, as it now includes ears, and plastic Ken-doll hair. Particularly bad is the baby, who makes the maternal nightmares of “Ally McBeal” look good. We can create dinosaurs, dragons, flying wizards, and Jar-Jar Binks, but can’t bother to make this baby move or speak with anything that resembles natural movement. Of course, it doesn’t help that the entire movie is filmed in a bigger than life style, making even Tim’s mundane life over the top. Naturally, this means the mask effects have to be even bigger than that. There are times when you might as well be watching a cartoon rather than what’s on screen. Thankfully, the film follows that idea and gives you several animated sequences to replace the live action or CGI on film.

One has to wonder what talented actors like Bob Hoskins, Alan Cumming, and even Ben Stein did wrong to deserve being here. Jamie Kennedy on the other hand is proving he completely deserves movies like this. Between Son of the Mask and Malibu’s Most Wanted Kennedy has ruined all of the potential I saw in him after the Scream movies. He should stick with his practical joke “Jamie Kennedy Experiment” humor if he hopes to have any sort of a career in the future. While this show really shouldn’t be watched by people with good taste, this movie shouldn’t be watched by anyone - period. It’s not the type of movie you take your kids to, and theaters should be standing by to send the names of patrons who insist on submitting their children to this type of abuse in to social services.

It’s always nice when a film this bad gives a critic the exact words he needs. In this case I leave you with a direct quote from the film. It describes Son of the Mask perfectly - “It’s the crapiest piece of crap in Craptown.”