Alibi V.14 No.7 • Feb 17-23, 2005 

Film Review

Son of the Mask

The Mask is back, and, baby, is it silly!

It was a prom night neither one of them would forget.
It was a prom night neither one of them would forget.

Son of the Mask

Directed by Lawrence Guterman

Cast: Jamie Kennedy, Traylor Howard, Alan Cumming

Some films just beg for a sequel (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Godfather, Star Wars). I'm not so sure The Mask is one of those movies. Although it raked in $119 million at the box office, it didn't make a particularly lasting impression on our culture. When you think about it, what did the film really have going for it? It had Cameron Diaz looking cute. It had Jim Carrey acting wacky in green makeup. But can you even recall the story? I can't and I get paid for this kinda stuff. ... So, 11 years after the fact, it's a little odd to be confronted with Son of the Mask.

Unable to come anywhere near affording the multi-million-dollar likes of Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz, producers have settled on Jamie Kennedy (Malibu's Most Wanted) and Traylor Howard (“Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place”). Not exactly inspiring so far. Toss in the director of Cats & Dogs and you've got the disappointment trifecta.

The story is largely unconnected with the original film. This isn't such a bad thing, really. The Dark Horse comic book on which this is based has gone through a number of different incarnations, each quite different in style, tone and character. This particular version has a down-on-his-luck cartoonist named Tim Avery (Kennedy) stumbling across the mythical Mask of Loki. One fateful night, Tim wears the mask to a company Halloween party, transforms into a wacky green superhero and impresses his boss, an animator played by Steven Wright, with his unpredictable hijinks. The next morning, Tim's wife (Howard) finds herself pregnant. Uh, oh.

Pressed by his boss to come up with a cartoon idea as wacky as the character he played at the costume party and freaked out over his wife's pregnancy, Tim is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. His problems only increase when his son is born with all the crazy powers of the Mask. Naturally, the birth of the baby sets off the jealousy of the family dog, a Jack Russell terrier named Milo. Oddly enough, the majority of the film is taken up by a magically powered Milo (he's stolen the Mask from Tim, you see) trying to kill baby Alvey. Babies and puppies, how could this possibly go wrong?

To be fair, Son of the Mask is aimed at a lower demographic than the original. Much lower. Most folks above fourth-grade reading level will be disappointed in this silly slapstick cartoon of a film. Kennedy does have a certain doofy charm that isn't quite exploited properly in this film. For the most part, he's wasted in a dull, domestic role. He comes alive when asked to don the Mask outfit, but it seems a wan rehash of Carrey's explosive, rubber-faced take. Alan Cumming (X-Men 2, Spy Kids) looks like he's trying to have some fun in the role of campy villain Loki. Unfortunately, he arrives a little too late to save the film and is made the butt (literally) of some lame flatulence jokes. When in doubt, go for the fart jokes.

Basically, if you miss the computer-animated dancing baby from “Ally McBeal,” Son of the Mask will cure your jones. This one's all about the crazy baby stuff. This baby dances and sings and runs around and oh, my! The strained wackiness of Son of the Mask is matched only by the wall-to-wall cute babyness of it all. Already bought the DVD of Baby Geniuses 2: SuperBabies? Then, baby, this is the movie for you.