New Line // 1994 // 97 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // May 17th, 2005
From Zero to Hero
Jim Carrey is now an international box-office superstar. His comedic timing, plastic body, innumerable impressions, and unbounded energy have propelled him to the top of the list of comedians. It's amusing to remember he's "that white guy" from In Living Color. Back when I watched that show, Carrey was my favorite (though Damon Wayans and his Homey the Clown character almost gave him the top spot). You could sense he was destined for more. And while Carrey had had some very small parts in various movies, it wasn't until 1994 that everything changed: While In Living Color ended its run, Carrey broke through on the big screen with three of his best-known roles, Ace Ventura, The Mask, and Lloyd Christmas from Dumb & Dumber. Actors would die for three such popular roles in a lifetime, let alone one year, but Jim Carrey would capitalize on these movies and never look back. If we were to look back, though, we would see what a gamble it was at the time to have Carrey headline a movie, not to mention three of them...
Stanley Ipkiss (Carrey) is a nice guy, a very shy, introverted nice guy. As with many a nice guy, lots of people walk on him: his boss, his landlady, his friends, and perfect strangers. One day while working at the bank, a gorgeous potential client, Tina Carlyle (Cameron Diaz, Charlie's Angels), walks in looking to open an account. It turns out she's there at the behest of her boyfriend, local mob goon Dorian Tyrell, to case out the bank for an upcoming robbery. Stanley is smitten, so his "best friend" decides he needs a night on the town, and what better place to go than the Coco Bongo Club! But once he gets there, his buddy gets past the bouncer but fails to make sure Charlie gets in as well. As he's kicked to the curb, Stanley bumps into Tina, who is a singer at the club. He wishes he could be Mr. Suave but comes across as Mr. Clumsy instead.
On his way home, the "loaner car" from his mechanic breaks down on a bridge. As he's peering at the river below, Stanley thinks he spots a body floating in the river. He runs down, only to discover it's a mound of garbage. But he then notices a mask floating nearby, and he's compelled to take it home. And when he gets home, he soon discovers this ordinary-looking wooden mask is a magical mask. Putting the mask on releases the wearer's inner personality and imbues them with magical powers. For Stanley, his inner child comes out in the form of a manic man with the powers and abilities of cartoon characters. He can spin like the Tasmanian Devil, turn balloons into guns, and flatten out like a pancake and re-inflate himself. With these remarkable new powers, Stanley seeks to woo the beautiful Tina and to enact some small vengeance on all those who put him down over the years. But as The Mask, Stanley become embroiled in the mob's plan to rob the bank and thus comes under the close scrutiny of the police force.
It seems like forever ago that Jim Carrey was just a comedian. These days, he's transformed himself into an actual actor by taking roles in serious movies. That's not to say he doesn't still dabble in comedy, but nothing he's done lately comes close to the outrageous characters in his early years. When you think of Carrey, more often than not you picture him as The Mask or Ace Ventura and not as Peter Appleton (The Majestic) or Truman Burbank (The Truman Show). While we all clearly remember those latter roles, what Carrey did in 1994 is at the forefront of our minds.
"All-l-l righty then."
Those catchphrases instantly remind you of Carrey, and though we may now cringe at them, they were quite the fad ten years ago. In fact, "all righty then" is still part of many of our lexicons. It's truly remarkable to think about these simple films with their simple plots and simple characters and realize what big hits they were -- all because of Jim Carrey. The power of his personality, the flexibility of his body, and the infectiousness of his humor transformed Ace Ventura and The Mask into megahits.
A decade had passed since I'd watched The Mask, and I have to admit that my first re-viewing wasn't all that exciting. While the movie was groundbreaking in its day with its cutting-edge CGI effects, that novelty has worn off. While the movie reintroduced audiences to the genius of cartoonist Tex Avery, we haven't yet forgotten his contribution to comedy. And while the concept of the movie was fresh and new then, we've been inundated with outrageous comedies since. Thus, I found the movie not as much fun as I did in 1994. Still, one gigantic saving grace to the movie has withstood the test of time. You guessed it: Jim Carrey. As I watched the film again for the commentary tracks, I realized that just the zaniness of Carrey is enough for the film. The Mask is a high-energy farce that is propelled by the masterful comedic skills of Carrey. When I realized that it wasn't so much the story but Carrey, the immense entertainment value of the movie came to the forefront. I was amazed at what Carrey can do in a role. Watching him take the good natured Ipkiss and turn him into the maniac Mask is a lot of fun. The unbridled energy and enthusiasm of The Mask is what you want to watch, and it all comes brilliantly together in Scene 19 when The Mask busts into the song "Cuban Pete." That's the perfect The Mask moment.
It would be shameful if I didn't comment on the one other newcomer in the film, Cameron Diaz. This was her first movie role, having been plucked from the modeling world. Diaz has never been one of my favorite hotties, but her appearance in The Mask is impressive. The word "fresh" is bandied about in the bonus materials, and I have to agree that that is the perfect word for her here. She just looks so fresh, young, and hot. Most impressive of all, and forgive me for being rude, are her breasts. She doesn't have any, but thanks to the glorious powers of the Wonder-Bra, she is busting out of her dresses in this film. Wow! Time to watch those two Charlie's Angels films again.
This "Platinum Edition" release of The Mask is a double-dip, and it's actually a "Platinum Edition" double-dip. Shouldn't that make this one an ultra-platinum release or something? I've never seen the first release, so I cannot give you a side-by-side comparison, aside from the general specs I've seen. Let's talk about what has changed. On the audio front, the Dolby Digital 2.0 French track (and subtitles) have been dropped and replaced with a DTS 6.1 English mix. Good. The commentary by Chuck Russell and the deleted scenes have been included again on this disc and bolstered with several other bonus materials. So, on the whole, this double-dip looks to be a better value.
Now let's examine the audio and visual. The 1.85:1 anamorphic video is a great mix that captures the bold colors and rich blacks and provides solid details. I didn't note any significant errors when watching the disc; however, I'm not completely satisfied with the video, which appears thick or murky to me. Perhaps it's just a result of the artistic choices and the abundance of night shots, but the video lacks a level of crispness I prefer. The DVD comes with three audio tracks to choose from: DTS 6.1, DD 5.1, and DD 2.0. I watched the film in DTS, went back and watched a few scenes in DD 5.1, and just briefly watched the "Cuban Pete" scene in DD 2.0. On the whole, the DTS track is an excellent track with clear dialogue, abundant use of the surrounds, and solid bass. Unfortunately, and this is why I have given the audio a grade of 80, either my disc is defective or the mix is flawed, for at four different times in the film, the audio "popped out" for a split second. It's only momentary, but it's very noticeable. When this happened, I flipped to the DD 5.1 mix, and the sound never skipped. So, while the DTS is great and better than the DD 5.1, it is bad on my disc. Luckily, the DD 5.1 mix is also very well done and missing that problem.
Moving on to the bonus items, we'll begin with the carryovers from the first release. The audio commentary track by director Chuck Russell (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, Eraser, The Scorpion King) is the type of track I enjoy: a track with a lively individual discussing what is going on onscreen at that moment. Russell shares a great deal of information about the film, and it's a great inclusion in this release. You'll enjoy listening to his insights and stories. Also brought over are two deleted scenes: an opening segment showing the Vikings leaving the mask in America and a death scene for reporter Peggy Brandt. They were smart cuts from the film, but they are definitely interesting to watch today.
And now we move to the newly included items. First up here is an audio commentary with just about every single crewmember involved with The Mask. Actually, that's a slight exaggeration, but I think at least a dozen people are involved. I did not enjoy this track because it isn't a live, screen-specific track. Instead, it's bits and pieces of interviews spliced together that have a passing significance to the scene. While I did learn more about the film, I don't like this type of audio track. Even more disturbing is the "announcer" who introduces everyone as they are about to speak. Use the Lucasfilm method and use subtitles to do that instead. If you can only listen to one commentary track, pick Russell's solo effort. Next up are a bunch of featurettes: "Return to Edge City" (26 minutes), "Introducing Cameron Diaz" (12 minutes), "Cartoon Logic" (12.5 minutes), and "What Makes Fido Run" (9.5 minutes). Each is self-explanatory: "Return" talks about the making of the film, "Diaz" is about finding the right woman to play Tina Carlyle, "Logic" is how cartoons are fused into the film, and "Fido" is about the dog's role in the movie. I did like all the featurettes and they are a cut above most filler found on discs these days. These actually took some time to go into detail about the topic, so you end up learning something. And rounding out the bonus items are trailers for The Mask, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Elf, and Raise Your Voice. Some odd, older choices here. On the whole, it's not the greatest double-dip improvement on the market, but it does have many things to make a Mask fan ponder.
A man with a green face, a garish yellow zoot suit, and cartoon powers is off to save the day? You've got to be kidding me.
Would The Mask have worked without Jim Carrey? It's slightly possible but highly unlikely. Look at the disaster called Son of Mask. Carrey is the glue that holds the film together and makes it what it is. You're not watching this one for plot; it's all Carrey. With that in mind, I have to say that The Mask is a highly entertaining, wild film that would make a great addition to your collection. I'm hopeful that it's only my copy that has the bad DTS track and it isn't the whole batch. Still, don't let the hiccups stand in the way of one of Carrey's most impressive roles.
The court hereby finds The Mask not guilty of disturbing the peace. All parties are free to go.
Review content copyright © 2005 Eric Profancik; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* DTS 6.1 ES (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Audio Commentary with Director Chuck Russell
* Audio Commentary with Crew
* Deleted Scenes
* "Return to Edge City"
* "Introducing Cameron Diaz"
* "Cartoon Logic"
* "What Makes Fido Run"