Making the Grades
For Sale: One ten year old film franchise, used only once by big name star. You supply performers, dog, and locations. Opportunity to make millions with little effort.
After viewing Son of the Mask, I though for sure New Line Cinema must have placed an ad like this. The 1994 first edition called The Mask, was only saved from film oblivion thanks to Jim Carrey's versatile performance.
But this second attempt doesn't feature the famous flexible-faced actor. Instead, the sequel looks to Jamie Kennedy (anyone remember Road to Flin Flon?) and Alan Cumming (best known to families as the nasty Fegan Floop in Spy Kids) to make something memorable out of the hand-me-down that sent Carrey into contortions a decade ago.
In the 2005 incarnation, the wooden relic appears in the life of aspiring cartoonist Tim Avery (Kennedy). Lacking a costume for his company's masquerade party, Tim reluctantly dons The Mask. Instantly, his usually timid persona is transformed into an entertainment machine, whipping the stagnant shindig into an exciting evening, and raising Tim's profile at the office the next morning.
Also that same crazed night, Tim has an encounter with his wife Tonya (Traylor Howard). Nine months later she gives birth to their first child who possesses-shall we say-an animated personality. When Tonya has to leave on a business trip, Tim gets some real bonding time with his little one, and discovers the bouncing bundle of joy has some coping skills of which he was unaware.
Resorting to putting his son in front of the TV so he can get some work done, the youngster gets an overdose of Looney Tunes -- with the famous Michigan Frog cartoon having a major effect. Soon the tiny tike is singing vaudeville numbers for Tim, but not for the neighbor lady.
While Tim is trying to handle his baby-gone-berserk, another player comes into the act. Loki (Cumming), who is the son of Odin (Bob Hoskins) the Norse God of Mischief, has been sent on a special errand by his father to retrieve the green guise. The easiest way to find it is to locate the "son of the mask." Checking every child born in the area, Loki finally finds the Avery home. When Tim can't come up with the whereabouts of the mask, the madman on a mission kidnaps his boy.
Hyperactive from start to finish, Son of the Mask appears to be a big money effort (imdb.com reports a $100 million budget for this film). Unfortunately, I found it to be painfully long, earsplitting, and not at all funny.
There is much within this mayhem for parents to be wary of, too. Mild profanities and a few sexual comments seem unbefitting a movie aimed at children. Worse yet, the mix of animated and live action violence includes a sleepy dad who almost feeds his baby a broken light bulb, a man who attacks a woman who looks like his wife -- even though he doesn't think it's really her, lots of kicks and bites to crotches, and explosions (just to name a few).
Toss in some flatulence, urine fountains during a diaper change, and an ode to the Exorcist (along with other instances of characters being "possessed" by the Norse god), and you'll discover the real special effect within this film is that it fits into a PG rating.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Son of the Mask.
Fathers are often portrayed as inept caregivers. How would the writing in this film differ if the father went away, and the mother was left to tend the baby?