The Mask – Stanley Ipkiss lives a boring, predictable life; he has no luck with women and he’s stuck in a dead-end job and when the beautiful Tina walks into his life, his inadequacies come to the fore. Stumbling across a strange wooden mask, Stanley is transformed into an aggressively confident trickster with cartoonish super-powers. Can ‘The Mask’ win over Tina when her gangster boyfriend wants revenge, and will Stanley lose his identity to his more appealing alter-ego?

The Mask (1994) – Director: Charles Russell

Is The Mask appropriate for kids?

Rating: PG

Running Length: 101 mins

Starring: Jim Carrey, Cameron Diaz, Peter Greene

Genre: Comedy

‘THE MASK’ REVIEW

Before he was the mega-star of comedy, Jim Carrey made his name with two iconic roles, ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’ and ‘The Mask’, the latter being green-faced, larger-than-life and totally incorrigible. While he has since proven himself to be an excellent ‘straight’ performer, for example in ‘The Truman Show’, ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ and ‘The Number 23’, his initial fame came from his hugely successful comedy performances and ‘The Mask’ is most definitely one of his best, becoming a classic since it’s release.

Everyone can relate to a character who comes out of their shell when they put on a literal or figurative ‘mask’ when around others, especially those who intimidate them. ‘The Mask’ exploits this natural insecurity that many people have and has so much fun with it that its self-assuredness seems right when in other, less expert hands could so easily have come across as irritating and awkward. Carrey’s warm persona shines through in his role as ‘The Mask’; other comedy stars often make the mistake of trying to appeal to adults (even in kids’ films) and therefore come across as aggressive and acerbic but Carrey keeps the character in check and, while there is some innuendo, it is so silly that it remains inoffensive.

Although Carrey’s over-the-top, rubber-faced comedy stylings may not be to everyone’s tastes, there’s no denying that he was born to play ‘The Mask’ and the now A-lister, Cameron Diaz performing her debut as Tina shows her potential to be more than just a love interest. With the jokes coming in thick and fast, with most landing perfectly, it is difficult not to like ‘The Mask’ and having such mass appeal helps this be a movie to watch with the whole family.

IS ‘THE MASK’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

When Tina is first introduced to the movie, she is wearing a figure-hugging red dress with a high split up one side and shows a lot of cleavage. The camera closely pans up the entire length of her body, from her legs upwards and the accompanying music affirms that she is very sexually attractive. Two men who see her walk in ogle her, when she walks over to them, one of the men takes her coat and while she isn’t looking, sniffs it deeply.

When Stanley first puts on the mask, it sticks to his face; he initially manages to pull it off but on the second attempt, it holds fast and he can’t remove it. There is a close-up of his face as he screams and his fingernails claw down it, while this is happening, the mask remains wooden and Stanley’s distressed eyes can be seen behind it. Although this only lasts around thirty seconds, children who are frightening by masks could struggle with this scene.

When Stanley is wearing the mask, it is more like a rubber mask with his features being clear and expressive. When he first becomes ‘The Mask’, he walks around his apartment building, trying to be quiet but a cartoonish alarm clock jumps out his pocket, making a racket. He pulls out a huge cartoon mallet and proceeds to try to smash the clock to silence it. When it ‘sees’ the mallet, it screams in fear and tries to escape but it is soon destroyed. This is a comedic scene and the clock is not shown to suffer in any way but it’s implied sentience and fear of being ‘killed’ could be upsetting for some kids.

The Mask can change his face at will like cartoon characters, one time his eyes pop out and roll around in different directions; another, his entire face pops out away from the front his skull which in turn pops out from the rest of his head. Each of these moments last only a couple of seconds and are therefore not frightening.

At night, The Mask goes to visit some mechanics who ripped Stanley off, the camera cuts away from what is actually happening and focuses on a lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. The light flashes and the bulb jumps around as screams are heard in the background. Later, the mechanics are seen in the background of a scene on ambulance gurneys, with large exhaust pipes sticking out of their backsides, they are shown from the front and nothing graphic is seen. They complain of pain but do not appear to be suffering too badly.

Dorian is a gangster and he answers to a character called Niko who is universally feared, one character  says ‘you mess with Niko, you end up taking a dirt bath’. When Dorian goes to see Niko after going against him, Niko has him forced to the floor with a gun to his head and a golf tee put into his mouth which has a golf ball balanced on top. Dorian breathes heavily in fear as Niko taunts him by letting his golf club swing over his head. When Niko takes his swing, Dorian cries out in pain as he is hit and a small amount of blood appears on his mouth.

Tina performs a song at a nightclub and wears a very short dress which reveals a lot of cleavage. The song and her performance are very sensual, she flirts outrageously with men in the audience. The Mask is watching and his face changes to that of a large cartoonish wolf which howls, his eyes pop out and his tongue rolls out onto the table, he pants with lust and smashes a cartoon hammer over his head.

The Mask takes Tina on a date, he wears a stereotypically French outfit, adopts a French accent and his dialogue oozes with innuendo. He says ‘I’ll reveal my croissant, I’ll spread your paté, I’ll dip my ladle in your vichyssoise!’ He also says ‘Our love is like a red, red rose…I am a little (t)horny!’. This is so quick and non-graphic that most kids will be unaware of the sexual connotations of what he is saying and will simply see it as him being somewhat aggressive with his affections; this is countered by Tina kneeing him in the crotch!

Dorian captures Stanley and has his men hold him over a large, whirring, bladed machine. Another character pleads with Dorian saying ‘You said you wouldn’t hurt him!’ to which he replies ‘I lied’. Stanley struggles and is eventually pulled back when Dorian has what he wants.

A ‘bad’ character puts on the mask and his face becomes a frightening, evil version of his own, his eyes are red and his voice becomes deep and demonic. He remains this way for much of the third act of the movie. At one point he goes to kiss a woman, his tongue becomes cartoonish and extra long, snaking out towards her in a sleazy way, she squeals and pulls away from him.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT – IS ‘THE MASK’ FOR KIDS?

Jim Carrey has become a household name for wacky shenanigans and zany antics and classic comedy ‘The Mask’ helped him to cement this persona into the collective psyche of movie goers all over the world. With genuine laugh-out-loud moments and appealing to a vast majority of audiences, ‘The Mask’ continues to entertain over two decades after its release. With some violence, gang-related threats and innuendo, we feel this movie should be appropriate for kids aged eight and over.

  • Violence: 2/5 (there is a fight between two characters, they put their all into it but neither comes out of it badly hurt. A few characters get shot and a couple of minor but established characters die from their wounds)
  • Emotional Distress: 1/5 (when Stanley gets arrested, his beloved dog, Milo, sees him through the bars of the jail. Stanley expects to be there for a long time and tells Milo to forget about him, Milo whimpers and Stanley is visibly upset, however after this scene the pair are reunited and this is not brought up again)
  • Fear Factor: 2/5 (the villain of the movie is a gangster who uses threats of violence, his boss punishes him for disobedience with a cruel act of violence, however these moments are few and far between and do not cause lasting damage to any victim)
  • Sexual Content: 2/5 (lots of innuendo, a woman is regularly seen wearing revealing clothes and is ogled over by men. A cop pats a man down who says ‘Easy, you’re giving me a woody!’. When making balloon animals, The Mask pulls out a used condom from his jacket saying ‘Sorry, wrong pocket’ before throwing it away. A risqué photo of a woman in lingerie is shown on camera for a couple of seconds)
  • Bad Language: 1/5 (mild cursing and blasphemy, a French curse word is used)
  • Dialogue: 1/5
  • Other Notes: Deals with themes of seeing your own worth, finding your strengths, seeing the good in others, confidence, assertiveness, what makes someone attractive, not giving up on a fight with a stronger foe and using a ‘mask’ to hide your true identity as well as allowing it to bring out your innermost desires.

Words by Laura Record

Jim Carrey 4-Film Collection [DVD]


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