When you think about "The Mask", and I am not talking about "Mask" from 1985, what do you remember, well most likely two maybe three things, Jim Carrey's rubber faced Looney Tune antics, Cameron Diaz making a striking impression in a figure hugging red dress and maybe the talented dog Milo. What you probably won't remember other than it included an ancient, magical mask is the actual storyline and intentionally so because "The Mask" is very much about the wild antics of Jim Carrey and little else. Is it any good well it's still entertaining in a daft way but it's also surprisingly dull thanks to the stock storyline of good guy, bad guys and unlikely heroes.
Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey - Man on the Moon) is a bank clerk and a thoroughly nice guy, so nice that he is a complete push over. Having had a terrible day Stanley stumbles across an old wooden mask which turns out to be Loki, the Norse God of mischief. When Stanley tries the mask on his whole life changes as his inner self, a fun loving romantic with a penchant for comedy comes to the fore turning him into an extremely confident babe magnet. However, Stanley, whilst as The Mask, ends up spoiling small time criminal Dorian Tyrell's (Peter Greene) plans to rob a bank and suddenly finds himself not only being hunted down by Tryell and his henchmen but also a detective who is investigating a series of strange crimes.
So lets get the big negative out of the way with first and that is the bog standard storyline of good guys, bad guys and heroes. Now before I get criticized the storyline is intentionally standard and ultimately weak because the whole purpose of "The Mask" is about the outrageous and daft comedy, very similar in style to "Who Framed Roger Rabbit". As such you do have the added element of this magical mask to work as a catalyst for all the manic mayhem. But when "The Mask" isn't throwing comedy at you it becomes dull because the storyline isn't enough to fill in with those occasional lulls in comedy chaos. And because of this at just 101 minutes there are moments when it seems to drag, as if they are trying to throw breathing spaces in when in reality it doesn't really need them.
But let's be honest, whilst the storyline isn't that impressive the comedy is and with Jim Carrey having won fans with the first "Ace Ventura" movie he delivers more of the same and in fact takes it to another level. With many moments of quite frankly daft hilarity it is both imaginative and funny, bring many classic cartoon moments to comedy life. Watching Carrey as Stanley Ipkiss as The Mask dance across a series of steps in a larger than life way, his head turn into a howling cartoon wolf, heart beating outside of his chest or avoid arrest whilst singing "Cuban Pete" are just a few moments amongst many of down right comedy brilliance. In fact the comedy flies so thick and fast that you don't realise that many of the jokes are in fact all a little obvious, you just don't get the time to realise it.
There is though a negative to all these outrageous cartoon inspired capers and that is when Jim Carrey isn't The Mask the comedy feels a little weak. Jokes surrounding pens, desks and tripping over seem tame in comparison to the Mask making balloon puppets to distract a group of bad guys. And a knock on effect is the humour which other characters such as Lt. Mitch Kellaway's bumbling assistant end up being dull in comparison. It gives it that effect of being great fun when Carrey is delivering those big moments but often suffers when he isn't.
Talking of Jim Carrey well he is perfect for the character of Stanley Ipkiss aka the Mask allowing him to take his rubber faced, arm waving gags to the absolute maximum. There is no one who does this outrageous, cartoon style comedy better and as was proven with the less than spectacular sequel "The Mask" works because of Carrey. But it also works because it introduced Cameron Diaz to the movie world in a very memorable scene featuring that figure hugging red dress and her shaking her hair out. Yes it's the stuff of male fantasy but it works and is great fun. Which is the whole point of Diaz's character Tina Carlyle, she is there to smile, look stunning and at a pseudo-romantic element to the movie.
Aside from Carrey and Diaz who to be honest put everyone else in the shade, Peter Greene is quite good as bad guy Dorian Tyrell and Amy Yasbeck is amusing as flamed hair journalist Peggy Brandt. But it is Milo the pet dog which ends up making the most impact with his on cue tricks such as door opening.
What this all boils down to is that yes "The Mask" is both daft and good fun with Jim Carrey giving us cartoon style comedy in abundance. But it is a little dull when we are not getting blasted by some outrageous moment of green faced hilarity. The good news is that although it feels a little long and suffers in places it will make you laugh with a range of jokes and you will remember it even if it's only for the stunning entrance from Cameron Diaz.