Borderline but funny

I have always maintained that Jim Carrey is a good actor who has unfortunately become a marketable commodity. The rubbery-face and outlanding personality routine is but one of his talents, yet the one that is most easily accessible to audiences.

The Mask was the movie that confirmed this mass appeal that was first a hit in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. This one was tailor-made for him - a mask of obscure origin that transforms shy Stanley Ipkiss into a cartoony, uninhibited baffoon. The style is an unabashed combination of Tex Avery and Ricky Ricardo (so maybe I can't name any other classic stars of Latin music).

We also have the movie debut of Cameron Diaz, her first tiptoes out her modelling career. Honestly, the role is mainly to dance and look good, but there were enough actual moments of decent acting I can see why Hollywood continued to take a chance on her.

The plot is fairly idiotic. After stumbling on the mask, it continually draws him into trouble, but he is invulnerable so long as he is wearing it. He ends up robbing the bank he works at, which gets him in trouble with the police, as well as some baddies who were going to rob the bank themselves. These characters are mainly stereotypes, though the film builds them in at least a slightly interesting way.

The moments of the film are a basically a series of jokes, with just enough plot to keep things going. Fortunately, maybe half of the jokes are related to character and what's actually going on. The really fortunate thing is that in between all the expected low brow humor are some really good gags. That's the main basis to actually recommend the film.

As for Carrey, there are hints of what he's capable of, but even the shy, defeated side of his character has been directed in a perky way. I wish someone would give him a real meaty role sometime. His most recent attempts to broaden his roles seem orchestrated by a committee in how risk-free the approach has been. Maybe we could throw Carrey and Robin Williams together in a room with a bat and a typewriter and see what happens...

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