Monday, February 14, 2011

A Decade of Dreck #44: Son Of The Mask

Charge Shot!!! is celebrating the end of the decade in the most masochistic way we know how - by watching and writing about the 100 worst movies of the last ten years as defined by film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Click here to see RT's complete list, click here for more information about the Decade of Dreck project, and click here to see all of the movies we've done so far.

Jim Carrey: everybody likes him, right? Perhaps that would both explain the existence as well as the colossal failures of the cottage industry of sequels to his films made without his participation. Dumb and Dumber(er), Ace Ventura (Jr.), Bruce/Evan Almighty, and of course, today's horror- Son of the Mask.

Carrey's rubber-faced slapstick stylings and general likability have propelled him through a successful career making comedy tentpoles, and he's even managed to make a couple serious dramas that aren't half bad (well, not all of them). But there must be some sort of secret society devoted to making Jim Carrey movies without Jim Carrey because they keep getting made; none of them have been good and none of them have done well.

I'm not sure if the original Mask was a good movie. I was only seven years old when it was released, but I do have fond memories of it. Carrey's style of comedy was perfectly suited for the story of a man who basically becomes a Looney Tune, and as a lifelong Looney Tunes fan that suited me just fine. The general consensus on the internet is that Mask I was pretty good movie. Of course, it doesn't matter how good a movie is; not even Citizen Kane warranted a sequel eleven years after the fact.

The only thing this movie does well is distance itself from the Carrey original. The titular mask, having been disposed of by Carrey at the end of the first installment of the saga, washes up in stream years later, to be found by Otis, a Jack Russell Terrier owned by Tim Avery (Jamie Kennedy, blergh). Avery (named for Tex, the animation genius behind "Red Hot Riding Hood" among countless others) is an aspiring cartoonist stuck with a case of writer's block and/or incompetence. His wife wants a baby, because that's how women are, but Tim doesn't think they're ready because he still hasn't made it in his chosen industry (why this problem never occurred to the baby-crazy wife, I can't say. Women, eh?).

Finding the Mask, Tim becomes a less-fun version of Carrey's Masked alter ego, impresses his boss (at the kind of animation studio that doesn't exist outside of South Korea anymore), and impregnates his wife (I imagine the semen being green). Soon, a baby with inborn Mask powers of cartoonish ability is born. However, the Norse god of mischief Loki (Alan Cumming, or should I say "Slumming"?) the Mask's creator, is looking for it for some reason, and this presents all kind of problems, mostly for the audience.

There isn't much to differentiate Son of the Mask from other terrible family comedies, and that's one of the movie's many problems. The original Mask was a lusty, manic, sleazeball sowing mischief and discord while gawking at Cameron Diaz and cornholing small-time crooks with steel pipes (I swear I remember that happening). This one livens up the office Halloween party by rapping a hip hop remix of "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" that sounds like it was composed around the time the first film came out.

Then there's the Son of the Mask himself. He's a baby. That's never good. Through the use of some cruddy CGI, he bounces around and Michigan J. Frogs around the house but that never becomes entertaining. There is an extended, dialogue-free sequence where he and a Mask-wearing Otis the dog stage some Itchy And Scratchy-esque hijinks in a battle for Tim's affections, but those seven minutes are about as close as the film gets to its cartoonish potential. "Duck Amuck" it ain't.

However, I did laugh at the part where the Mask powers give the baby's urethra the ability to shoot out three separate streams of urine to confound Jamie Kennedy, and eventually culminates in dousing him with piss as if it came from a fire hose, because Jamie Kennedy's face getting peed on is never uncalled for.

Former low-level White House operative Kal Penn is in this movie and plays a thickly-accented character named Jorge. Perhaps he's from Goa?

Son of the Mask hopes that manic PG wackiness will cover up for the fact that it utterly lacks the essential element of the first movie's success, it's leading man. Though I doubt even a Jim Carrey could salvage this mess.

Son of the Mask is ranked #75 on the Rotten Tomatoes Worst 100 list with 6% freshness. Its RT page can be found here.