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SON OF THE MASK

SYNOPSIS:
Tim Avery (Jamie Kennedy) is a frustrated animator whose luck changes after he discovers a magical mask belonging to the Norse God Loki (Alan Cumming). While wearing the mask at a Halloween party, Tim manages to impress his boss Daniel (Steven Wright) and soon after discovers, to his horror, that his wife has become pregnant. About a year later, Loki is ordered by his father Odin (Bob Hoskins) to retrieve the mask and sets out in search of a baby with special powers.

Review by Jake Wilson:
Conceptually, Jim Carrey's 1994 hit The Mask was a very simple movie. As is helpfully explained in the opening scene of this sequel, "the mask represents the id" - the childlike, instinctive energy which the meek Stanley Ipkiss had to find within himself to live life to the full.

Cut to present day. Jamie Kennedy plays Tim, a budding animator - at a guess, not too different from the budding screenwriter who pitched this project. Tim isn't a nerd like Stanley (nor is Kennedy in Carrey's league as a comic star). Instead, he clowns round in a whiny, half-hearted way, vaguely aware of his own inadequacy; though he dreams of creating his own TV show, he's repeatedly told his ideas lack "spark".

Clearly, Tim's problem isn't repression but an arrested adolescence that slows his development and prevents him from taking life seriously. And so the mask plays a different role in this film than it did in the original: rather than being a catalyst, it merely exaggerates the experiences that would have brought the hero to maturity anyway. Like most modern Hollywood family films (including this month's Are We There Yet?) Son Of The Mask seems aimed less at children than their parents: specifically, at men who remain ambivalent about the joys of fatherhood. So the scenes where Tim dons the mask count for less than the climax where he wins his son back by taking it off - accepting the burden of his "ordinary" humanity, and in the same gesture regaining his creative power.

I don't believe a word of it. Kennedy is feeble and even Alan Cumming makes less of a meal than he could of his role as the petulant god of mischief. The film only really escapes from dull formula when the human actors vanish and the special effects take over the screen - pitting a superpowered dog and baby against each other in an anarchic series of tributes to classic Warner Brothers cartoons.

The results lack the grandeur and wit of last year's Looney Tunes: Back In Action but occasionally have a comparably transfixing weirdness (some sort of climax is reached when the baby morphs into the tap-dancing Michigan J. Frog). While the first Mask wasn't anything special, it at least made vague sense; in this case, the real victim of repression is the movie itself, as it strives unconvincingly to fit a reassuring moral to fantasies of violence visited on children and the home.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

SON OF THE MASK (PG)
(US)

CAST: Jamie Kennedy, Alan Cumming, Ryan Falconer, Bob Hoskins, Steven Wright, Traylor Howard, Ben Stein, Gabriel Botha

PRODUCER: Erica Huggins, Scott Kroopf

DIRECTOR: Lawrence Guterman

SCRIPT: Lance Khazei

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Greg Gardiner

EDITOR: Malcolm Campbell, John Coniglio, Debra Neil-Fisher

MUSIC: Randy Edelman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Leslie Dilley

RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Qld, Tas - March 24; Vic - March 31; NSW, WA - April 7, 2005

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: June 6, 2005







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