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Son of the Mask
Reviewed by Gary Mitchel, © 2005

Format: Movie
By:   Lawrence Guterman (director) and Lance Khazei (screenwriter)
Genre:   Comedy
Released:   February 18, 2005
Review Date:   February 23, 2005
Audience Rating:   Rated PG
RevSF Rating:   4/10 (What Is This?)

"This is a fake!" — Loki

Why, oh why, do I do these things to myself? Why do I inflict such things upon my poor brain?

Oh wait, that’s how I began my last review. Let me start again.

The first thing that went through my mind when I saw the trailer for Son of the Mask was, “Well, that’s going to suck. I hope I don’t pull that assignment.”

Sigh.

So now I’m laying out my own hard-earned money to a CGI-fest family film. Still, I do like Alan Cumming, and Guterman did a decent job directing Cats & Dogs, and it’s from New Line, which gave us Lord of the Rings. How bad could it be?

As it turns out, pretty bad. But not completely deplorable.

Jamie (Scream) Kennedy is Tim Avery, aspiring animator (nice tip of the hat to Tex Avery, who’s the main inspiration for the mayhem in both Mask movies). He’s trying his best to work his way up from turtle-suit wearing tour guide to full animator at a Disney-esque studio headed up by . . . by . . . a guy played by Steven Wright. It’s a bad sign when I can’t remember character’s names from a film I just watched twenty minutes ago.

So as he and his buddy Jorge (Kal “Harold & Kumar” Penn) are trying to succeed, Tim’s wife Tonya (Traylor “Monk” Howard) tells him that she wants to have a baby. This sends Tim into a state of panic, as he feels ill-equipped to be a dad and he’s about as mature as a 12-year old.

At the same time, Norse god Odin (Bob “Roger Rabbit” Hoskins) sends Loki (Alan “Nightcrawler” Cumming) to Earth to recover his Mask of Mischief. Hoskins is buried under the Odin makeup, and apparently Loki likes to shop in the leather section.

Anyway, Tim’s dog finds the Mask in question, and brings it home. Tim ends up wearing it to a Halloween party, where his antics impress his boss enough to get him a job coming up with a new animated TV show. After the party, he comes home and makes sweet, sweet, freaky Mask-wearing love (off camera) to his wife, and the Son of the Mask is quickly born. Having been conceived while dad was wearing the Mask, the kid Alvey has its powers. Meanwhile, the dog, now jealous of the attention the baby is getting, dons the Mask. A live-action Tom and Jerry style cartoon ensues, thanks to the magic of CGI.

Some parts of the movie work. The script is unapologetically aimed at the seven-to-thirteen set, and works pretty well for them (based on the hooting kids in the audience I saw this with). It also has the plot pacing and manic energy of its cartoon inspirations. It's brightly colored, and the Avery house looks like it was pulled out of a cartoon, all bright yellows, reds and blues. Some of the gags are inventive and actually funny. Every scene with Loki is enjoyable; Cumming has an innate sense of mischief which makes him a perfect trickster god. The CGI is well done (not a surprise), and most of the actors turn in decent performances.

On the down side, there is very little to recommend for those not in the tween-ages. The script offers some ham-handed life lessons, the mandatory gross-out jokes the kids seem to enjoy these days, and all the depth of its source materials. While you won’t be bored to tears watching it with your kids, it’s not a film that provides different levels for all ages like Shrek or the Toy Story movies. Jamie Kennedy turns in the same stellar acting he did in Malibu’s Most Wanted. This is not a plus. And dancing, talking, walking babies are just weird. Something about them creeps me out

The only other complaint I have isn’t really a fair one: There are only two real appearances of The Mask character. The movie is about his son, so I can’t really knock it for not focusing on the Green Faced One. Still, I would have liked to have seen a bit more Mask-style shenanigans.

Overall, it’s not a terrible movie, but it’s not a great one either. I have to cut Guterman and the screenwriter a little slack, as they did accomplish what they set out to do: make a live-action cartoon. I just wish it had been better, with more for the older set to enjoy.

While Son of the Mask won’t become a family classic that the whole family will enjoy watching together, I predict a long-running future as a DVD that the parents will toss in the player to amuse/distract the little ones.

RevSF SpankMuppet Gary Mitchel once dreamed of joining Mobile Armored Strike Kommand, but then thought better of it. I mean, come on, “Command” starts with a “C,” you illiterate acronymrods!

 
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