Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ten Statements About....THE MASK (1994)

There are very few films where I find snot jokes acceptable.
This is one of them.
 "It's Party Time! P-A-R-T...why? Because I gotta!."

1) You know why I can watch this Jim Carrey film where he goes all gonzo when I can't stand watching him in so many others? Because Carrey underplays Stanley Ipkiss--his Stanley is very grounded and very realistic, and that makes it clear that his Mask persona is an abberation. It's an anomaly, which makes the grotesqueness of that persona's behavior understandable as opposed to some of the outright psychotic characters that Carrey plays in later films.

2) It's really impressive how director Chuck Russell established what kind of world this film exists in within minutes of its start time. Through the use of a recognizable matte, the art deco style of the titles and even the music cues, Russell makes it clear that Edge City is a weird fusion of modern and pre-WWII style, something he keeps consistent throughout the story.

Here's the best special effect of this film..
3) Look, I like Cameron Diaz as she is now, even if she is a stick insect....but MAN, has any woman ever just grabbed hold of the screen with both hands and took control of it like she does in this movie? Everything that made her what she is today is all there, plus she's got major curves and obviously knows how to use them in those production numbers. Plus....

4) of the keys to this movie is how much fun everyone is having making it. I could watch the dance number solely for the looks of pure joy on Diaz' and Carrey's face alone. This is a conedy that is made all the more fun because it looks like it was such a blast to make!

5) That being said...I really felt sad watching Richard Jeni's performance in this film, knowing that all his timing and comic sensibility that he shows in this film gave what could've been a thankless role a life of its own...and he talent away by committing suicide.

6) One of the truly ingenious things about this script is that, for all the weirdness and the gags and the special effects, it's Stanley as Stanley who saves the day and gets the girl. The Mask is not the hero, but a device--literally--that allows him to recognize in himself the qualities he needs to be the man he wants to be.

7) Give Peter Reigert credit--if I didn't know he was an foreign national, I wouldn't have known from his portrayal as Lt. Kellaway. Granted, it's an urban cop informed by 40's cop movies....but given that Edge City has one foot in the whole WWII style, it works.

8) You know...Diaz is volcanic and all, but there's a lot to be said about Amy Yasbeck as Peggy Brandt who has her own kind of sexiness to her. I almost regret that she disappears whole from the film the second she hands Stanley over to Dorian (I understand that a deleted scene shows the Mask'd Dorian throwing her into the printing press and killing her), as I would've liked to see her character continue to the end.

"I've heard of the phrase 'gimme some tongue' but...ewwww...."
9) And speaking of Dorian...I admit, I rather liked Peter Greene's Dorian as the main bad guy. Yes, the character skews a lot closer to the modern day criminal sensibilities than the rest of the film but maybe that's the point--namely that Dorian represents the encroachment of time on a timeless city, which is why his Mask'd persona is much more ruthless, dark and bloodthirsty than Ipkiss'.

10) And what discussion of this film would be complete without citing Max, the Jack Russell Terrier who plays Milo, Stanley's pet. This is one amazing dog, judging from the things they manage to get him to do without apparent aid of special effects...Hell, the one time it looks like they had to fake one of his stunts (jumping up to Stanley while our hero is incarcerated) looks all the more fake due to their attempts to cover the artifice up.

Overall...a film that still holds up due to some great performances and an attention to internal and external consistency, it works as a comedy, an adventure...and even as a semi-musical. Plus Cameron Diaz showing us exactly why she becomes Cameron Diaz.

1 comment:

  1. That was a great post. I now need to go and watch the movie again.