The Mask is a 1994 action fantasy comedy film was based on the comic books in 1991 published by Dark Horse Comics. This film was directed by Chuck Russell (credited as "Charles Russell"), and produced by Dark Horse Entertainment and New Line Cinema, and originally released to movie theatres on July 29, 1994. The film stars Jim Carrey as Stanley Ipkiss (also known as The Mask), who was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role; and Cameron Diaz, in her acting debut as Tina Carlyle. The movie received one Oscar nomination, for visual effects. The film marked Carrey's 12th film role. It was shot entirely in Los Angeles.
Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey) a clerk at an Edge City Savings bank, is a shy, good-hearted, luckless romantic everyday man who is regularly bullied by nearly everyone around him, including his boss, his landlady, Agnes Peenman, and car mechanics who ripped him off. His only friends are his dog, Milo and his co-worker Charlie Schumacher (Richard Jeni) gangster Dorian Tyrell (Peter Greene) runs the exclusive Coco Bongo nightclub while plotting to overthrow his boss Niko. Tyrell sends his singer girlfriend Tina Carlyle (Cameron Diaz) into Stanley's bank with a hidden camera, in preparation to rob the establishment.
Stanley is attracted to Tina, and she seems to reciprocate; but after being denied entrance to the Coco Bongo, Stanley is stranded with a broken-down rental car at the city's filthy harbor, where he finds a mysterious wooden mask, which he mistakenly though was someone down there, and when he gets questioned by a police officer what’s he doing down there, he lies to him by saying he was looking for his mask. When he takes the object home and puts it on, it comes alive, wraps around his head, and transforms him into a zoot suit wearing, wacky, green-headed, cartoonish figure called "The Mask", a trickster unbound by any limitations whether be personal inhibitions or the laws of physics, who cheerfully exacts revenge on some of Stanley's tormentors (in a comical goofy fashion) and terrifies a street gang that attempts to terrorize him, by firing real bullets at them, but all around them showing that he is genuinely insane, but can be a responsible man when he wants to be.
The next morning, Stanley encounters cynical Edge City detective, Lt. Kellaway (Peter Riegert) and newspaper reporter Peggy Brandt (Amy Yasbeck) both of whom are investigating the Mask's activities of the previous night. Peggy arrives at Stanley's bank and interviews him about the Mask's activities. Meanwhile Tyrell is summoned to a meeting with Niko. When Niko finds out about Tyrell's plans to rob Edge city bank and worrying that Tyrell's criminal schemes will attract a lot of police attention, he assaults him and gives him one week to flee the city. Despite this, Tyrell still continues with his plans.
That evening Stanley wakes up from a dream and notices the Mask still in his apartment (having thrown the mask out his window that morning). The temptation to again use the mask is overwhelming and he puts it back on. Needing money to attend Tina's performance at the Coco Bongo, The Mask noisily interrupts Tyrell's bank robbery and steals their target money at Edge City Savings while one of Tyrell's henchmen and good friend, Freeze, is shot by police responding to the disturbance.
The Mask buys entry into the Coco Bongo, which he meets Tina there and at the sight of her, drops his jaw down and popping his eyes out at the same time, puts his legs up and giggling like a little boy, and finally turns his head into that of an cartoon wolf which he bangs his head several times to get it back to normal. He zooms over and he "rocks the joint" by dancing exuberantly with Tina in front of the cheering clientèle to the song 'Hey Pachuco', at the end of the dance he gives Tina a kiss that literally blows her shoes off, before being confronted by Tyrell, who shoots off a part of the Mask's tie (which transforms back into a piece of Stanley's pajamas). The Mask escapes, while Tyrell is temporarily arrested for the bank robbery by Kellaway, who finds the piece of Stanley's distinctive pajamas at the club.
Kellaway arrives at Stanley's apartment next morning to ask him about the Mask's activities of the previous night (using the piece of Stanley's pajamas as evidence). Stanley manages to bluff his way out of trouble by telling Kellaway that his pajamas were stolen last night (at the same time trying to hide away the money the Mask stole from the bank in his closet). At the police station, Kellaway and his dimwitted partner, Detective Doyle (Jim Doughan) are examining the CCTV from the bank and finger prints from some of the bank notes and discover that none of them match to Tyrell or his men.
Stanley arrives at work late again that morning and stands up to his boss then gets a visit from Tina who wishes to close her account. Stanley then agrees to arrange a meeting between her and the Mask that night.
Stanley consults an expert on masks, who tells him that the object is a depiction of wikipedia:Loki, the Norse god of darkness and mischief (hence why it only works at night). Despite this, and with both Tyrell and Kellaway (who now has finger print evidence that Stanley stole the money) hunting for him, he arranges for Tina to meet the Mask at the local Landfill Park. The meeting goes badly at first when The Mask's advances and too strong nature scares Tina away, but he makes up for it with his charm and sweet nature. Both The Mask and Tina are about to kiss when Kellaway and his cops discover him. The Mask toys with the enraged officer before zooming out of the park and tricking a large group of Edge City police officers (who were waiting to ambush him) into joining him in a mass-performance production of the song Cuban Pete. The Mask manages to run down an alley (just before Kellaway and Doyle make the police snap back to reality) and takes his face off and Peggy helps Stanley escape, but then betrays him to Tyrell for a mob bounty of $50,000. Tyrell and his men interrogate Stanley about how the Mask works and Tyrell tries it on. Tyrell becomes a demonic, Devil-like figure and decides to give Stanley to the police. Just before they take Stanley to the police, Tyrell and his men go into Stanley's apartment where they find the money they were originally trying to steal from the bank. Just as they are leaving, Milo manages to get out of the apartment and follow Tyrell's car. Stanley is then, literally, dumped on Kellaway's lap, with a rubber green mask, and is thrown in jail where he tells Milo to find a new home.
Tina sympathetically visits Stanley in his cell, where he urges her to flee the city. She attempts to do so, but is captured by Tyrell and taken to his raid of a charity ball at the Coco Bongo, hosted by Niko and attended by the city's elite, including the Mayor of Edge City, Mortimer Tilton (Danny Ocean). The Masked Tyrell kills Niko and prepares to destroy both the club and Tina. Meanwhile, Milo (having slept in the ally behind Stanley's cell) helps Stanley break out of his cell and they go to the club to stop Tyrell (not before Stanley captures Kellaway and his car at gunpoint). They arrive at the club where Stanley ties Kellaway up. He locks Milo and Kellaway in the car and tells Kellaway to call for back up.
Stanley sneaks into the club and after brief initial success with the assistance of Charlie, Stanley is captured meanwhile Milo manages to get out of the car. Tyrell orders his henchmen to tie Stanley up with Tina but Tina tricks Tyrell into taking off the mask, which she kicks into the air and recovered by Milo, allowing the dog to assume anthropomorphism and defeat Tyrell's men, while Stanley fights Dorian himself. Stanley then recovers the mask and wears it one last time, and The Mask uses his powers and abilities to defeat the rest of Tyrell's men, save Tina by swallowing Tyrell's bomb inside him literally and flush Tyrell down the drain of the club's ornamental fountain. Charlie, Kellaway, Doyle and the police then storm into the club and arrest Tyrell's men.
Mayor Tilton comes over to Kellaway and Doyle and tells them to let Stanley go because Tyrell was the Mask the whole time and Tilton calls Stanley a hero for saving everyones lives. Then Tilton tells Kellaway that he needs to have a serious meeting with him about his actions against Stanley in his office in the morning.
As the sun rises, Stanley, Tina, Milo and Charlie take the mask back down to the harbor, where Tina and Stanley discard it into the water. Charlie attempts to recover the mask for himself, but is prevented by Milo, who swims away with it before he can get to it. Meanwhile, Stanley and Tina share a kiss with Stanley saying the Mask's catchphrase, "SMmmoking!" at the end.
- Jim Carrey as Stanley Ipkiss/The Mask: The main protagonist of the film. Jim Carrey, who portrays Stanley Ipkiss, commented that he characterized Stanley after his own father: "a nice guy, just trying to get by". When Ipkiss puts on the Mask of Loki, he becomes The Mask a wacky, zoot-suited, suave cartoon figure having the ability to manipulate his own shape and the world around him to a superhuman extent; this is implied to be the projection of Stanley onto himself of his preferred fantasies. The Mask decides to become a gangster at first, but chooses to become a superhero in the end. Ultimately Stanley discards the Mask of Loki, believing that he is limited by his attachment to the alter-ego it has created for him.
- Peter Greene as Dorian Tyrell: The main antagonist of the film. Dorian is a Mafia officer who desires to kill his superior, Niko, to take over his gang and rule Edge City. When Stanley Ipkiss, as the Mask, inconveniences him, Dorian attempts to have him killed. When Dorian wears the Mask, he becomes a troll-like figure representing his malice, and exhibits bestial behavior.
- Cameron Diaz as Tina Carlyle: The girlfriend of mobster Dorian Tyrell; but also very attracted to Stanley Ipkiss which he feels the same way along his alter-ego as well. Tina is largely dissatisfied with Dorian as a partner, but does not defy him until she has been courted by his rival. Later, she aids Stanley at Dorian's expense and becomes instrumental in Dorian's defeat. Before Diaz was cast as Tina, the studio considered to cast Vanessa L. Williams. The production team also considered casting Kristy Swanson. There was a studio offer for Anna Nicole Smith. Over 100 actresses auditioned for the part of Tina, including Christina Applegate, Kate Beckinsale, Jennifer Connelly, Laura Dern, Shannen Doherty, Juliette Lewis, Jenny McCarthy, Alyssa Milano, Penelope Ann Miller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Robin Wright, Winona Ryder, Alicia Silverstone, Tori Spelling, Tiffani Thiessen, Uma Thurman and Jeanne Tripplehorn.
- Orestes Matacena as Niko: The mafia boss of Edge City and owner of the Coco Bongo Club. He has been pursued for a long time by Lieutenant Kellaway, but he is ultimately killed by Dorian.
- Peter Riegert as Lt. Mitch Kellaway: A slightly cynical and gruff police detective lieutenant who pursues the Mask throughout the film.
- Jim Doughanas Detective Doyle: Lt. Kellaway's dimwitted but friendly partner who helps him in pursuing the Mask, but also annoys Kellaway with his stupidity.
- Richard Jeni as Charlie Schumaker: A friend of Stanley Ipkiss. Charlie is amiable, but can be selfish or irrational at times.
- Amy Yasbeck as Peggy Brandt: A reporter who's investigating the Mask and helps save Stanley Ipkiss from Lt. Kellaway and the Edge City police. But, later betrays Stanley by selling him off to Dorian for money.
- Ben Stein as Dr. Arthur Neuman: A doctor who tells Ipkiss about the mask that is created by a Norse Night God named Loki. He also wrote a novel called The Masks We Wear.
- Reginald E. Cathey as Freeze: Dorian Tyrell's bodyguard and a friend. Freeze was killed by the police, making Dorian wanting revenge.
- Denis Forest as Sweet Eddy: One of Tyrell's thugs.
- Nancy Fish as Mrs. Peenman: Stanley's grouchy and yelling landlady. That morning, after Loki Ipkiss' aftermath, she told Lt. Kellaway and two policemen about the accident.
- Nils Allen Stewart as Orlando: One of Tyrell's thugs.
- Ivory Ocean as Mayor Mitchell Tilton: the African-American mayor of Edge City who was held hostage along with the other Edge City elite party guests at the Coco Bongo by the Mask-wearing Dorian.
The movie was a box-office success, grossing $119 million domestically and over $350 million worldwide. Critics also approved of the movie, including Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times which gave the film 3/4 stars, noting Jim Carrey for his "joyful performance". The Mask is one of three films featuring Carrey (the others being Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Dumb and Dumber) released in 1994 that helped launch the actor to superstardom.
The film was nominated for Best Visual Effects at the 67th Academy Awards, but lost to Forrest Gump. In addition, Carrey was nominated for a Golden Globe. It currently holds a 77% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Cultural and literary allusions
Stanley decorates his apartment with items featuring characters from Looney Tunes cartoons, and when he turns into the Mask, he tends to imitate said characters: Bugs Bunny (dying in the arms of the mobster, kissing someone in the lips, fooling people, and cracking jokes), Daffy Duck (bouncing and yelling uncontrollably), the Road Runner (jabbering after saying a joke and before fleeing the scene to resemble the "beep, beep" produced by the Road Runner), Pepe le Pew (in the scene wherein he romances Tina) and The Tasmanian Devil (spinning in a tornado). His reaction to Tina's singing in the Coco Bongo is the same as that of the character of the wolf in the cartoon Red Hot Riding Hood, which Stanley is seen watching earlier on. Many of the imitations come from shorts directed by Tex Avery.
When "shot" at the first scene inside the Coco Bongo, the Mask's consequent "dying" dialogue references several classic literary moments:
- "Tell Auntie Em to let Old Yeller Out", a possible reference to Aunt Em in The Wizard of Oz and Old Yeller.
- "Tell Tiny Tim I won't be coming home this Christmas"; Tiny Tim is a character in Dickens' novel A Christmas Carol which would be another one of Jim Carrey's films in the future, A Christmas Carol (2009 film).
- "Tell Scarlett I do give a damn"; a comedic take on Rhett Butler's line, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn", in Gone with the Wind.
- At the end of the scene, he is presented with an award for his performance and breaks the fourth wall by thanking the movie audience with Sally Field's acceptance exclamation, "You love me! You really love me!" . As this is going on, people-shaped shadows appear onscreen and applaud, adding to the illusion of an appreciative movie theater audience.
The song "Cuban Pete" was originally performed by Desi Arnaz in the 1946 movie of the same name. It was later also performed by Arnaz and Lucille Ball on an episode of the classic 1950s television show I Love Lucy.
While being arrested in the park, the Mask's joking claim that "it was the one-armed man" is a reference to the villain in the TV series and later movie The Fugitive.
The laugh performed by the Mask towards the end of the movie (after revealing that his guns were loaded with nothing more than signs reading "Bang!"), is reminiscent of Carrey's Fire Marshal Bill character from In Living Color. In the same scene, the Mask performs a famous line by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry by saying "Now, you got to ask yourself one question. 'Do I feel lucky?' Well do ya, punks?". Carrey routinely performed impressions of Eastwood in his stand-up comedy routines and appeared in bit parts in Eastwood-headlined flicks Pink Cadillac and The Dead Pool, the latter of which was a Dirty Harry film. Carrey would also impersonate Eastwood momentarily in the film Bruce Almighty.
After defeating Dorian, the Mask performs a famous line by Edward G. Robinson in The Cincinnati Kid, when he says You were good, kid. Real good. But as along as I'm around you'll always be second best, see?.
The song "Hi de ho" from K7 has the same main musical theme as "Minnie the Moocher" from Cab Calloway (it is closer to the version of the movie The Blues Brothers). It can be heard during the charity party, just before Dorian comes into the club.
When The Mask dodges all the bullets he briefly turns into a green-faced Elvis.
- "Cuban Pete" (C & C Pop Radio Edit) - Jim Carrey
- "Who's That Man" - Xscape
- "This Business of Love" - Domino
- "Bounce Around" - Tony! Toni! Toné!
- "(I Could Only) Whisper Your Name" - Harry Connick, Jr.
- "You Would Be My Baby" - Vanessa Williams
- "Hi De Ho" - K7
- "Let the Good Times Roll" - Fishbone
- "Straight Up" - The Brian Setzer Orchestra
- "Hey! Pachuco!" - Royal Crown Revue
- "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You" - Cameron Diaz
- "Cuban Pete" (Arkin Movie Mix) - Jim Carrey
- 1994 The Billboard 200 - # 80
The orchestral score soundtrack to The Mask was released shortly after the original soundtrack's release. The score was composed and conducted by Randy Edelman and performed by the Irish Film Orchestra.
- Opening - The Origin Of The Mask
- Tango In The Park
- Out Of The Line Of Fire
- A Dark Night
- The Man Behind The Mask
- Dorian Gets A New Face
- Looking For A Way Out
- The Search
- Forked Tongue
- Milo To The Rescue
- The Mask Is Back
- Opening - Origin Of The Mask (Film Version)
- Tina Carlyle
- Dorian's Plan
- A Dark Night/Finding The Mask
- Got The Time?
- "Time For An Overhaul!"
- Find The Keys!
- Getting Rid Of The Mask
- Stanley Meets Peggy & Nikko's Warning
- Stanley Awakens
- A Sweet Tooth Ta-Night!
- Waste Not, Want Not
- "You Really Love Me!"
- Ice This Deadbeat
- Kellaway's Clue
- Milo & The Mask
- Nobody's That Fast
- The Hunt For A Green-Faced Man
- See Ya
- To The Park
- Tango In The Park
- Out Of The Line Of Fire
- Cuban Pete (Inst.) / Removing The Mask
- Stanley & Peggy
- Dorian Gets A New Face
- The Search
- The Man Behind The Mask
- Looking For A Way Out/C'mon Milo!/Tina's Captured
- Success At Last!
- Dorian Dons The Mask Again
- Party Crashers & A Forked Tongue
- Final Confrontation
- The Mask:TAS Track 01*
- The Mask:TAS Track 02*
- The Mask:TAS Track 03*
- The Mask:TAS Track 04*
- The Mask:TAS Track 05*
- The Mask:TAS Track 06*
- The Mask:TAS Track 07*
- Theatrical Trailer*
- Opening - The Origin Of The Mask Suite
- Carnival/Find The Keys (Album Alternate)
- Transformation (Album Alternate)
- Forked Tongue (Album Alternate)
- Milo To The Rescue (Album Alternate)
- The Mask Is Back (Album Alternate)
- The Mask's Theme*
- Somebody Stop Me [The Mask]
- The Mask: The Animated Series
The Movie was released on blu-ray on December 9 2008. It has an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is encoded in 1080p/VC-1. Its audio is a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD encoded at a 16/48khz bit and sample rate. The blu-ray has multiple supplementary packages including additional scenes, production details and two commentary tracks, one by Director Chuck Russell and the other by Director Chuck Russell and the rest of the production crew.
Not long after the release of The Mask, it was announced in Nintendo Power that Carrey would be returning in a sequel called The Mask II. The magazine held a contest, with the winner being an extra in the film, but, due to Jim Carrey declining to reprise his role, the project never came to fruition.
After this, an animated series was released and ran for three seasons, even featuring a two-part crossover with the Ace Ventura: Pet Detective animated series in the final season.
A standalone sequel, Son of the Mask, which featured none of the original cast except for Ben Stein as Dr. Arthur Neuman in a cameo, was released in theaters in 2005 to very poor box office performance and critical disapproval, which resulted in the franchise being put on hold indefinitely.
In 2020, there have been rumors of Jim Carrey being in talks to reprise his role as The Mask in a direct sequel to the original 1994 film. These reports are unconfirmed as of yet.
- Actually, what Edward G. Robinson said was You're good, kid, but as long as I'm around, you're only second best; see Memorable quotes for The Cincinnati Kid.