Marine salvage workers unwittingly rupture an ancient chest on the bottom of a bay; up floats a curious wooden mask. A bit later, disconsolate, nerdy bank teller Stanley Ipkiss (Carrey) stares into the water, contemplating suicide after being bounced from a nightclub -- the latest in a long series of humiliations. He sees the mask, thinks it's a drowning person, and jumps in to save it, and hauls the mask to shore.
Later that night, Stanley puts the mask on. He's instantly turned into a dancing dervish in a 1940s' zoot suit. This story and character work well with Carrey's mania, and he's transformed into a huge parody of himself. Makeup expert Greg Cannom realized Carrey's exaggerated facial expressions are his best tools, and didn't want them lost. His movie character is now half-real and half-animated.
Director Russell lets The Mask whirl in bee-bop and triumphantly prevail in situations that would stump poor Stanley, whose hopeless crush on beautiful customer Tina Carlyle (Diaz) worsens as she flirts with him while she makes secret videotapes of the vault for her sleazy boss, Dorian Tyrel (Greene), who runs the Coco Bongo Club, where Tina is a slinky singer. Her chemistry with Carrey stabilizes the pretzel-ish plot. When she dances with The Mask, we see movie magic.((Comic complexities occur: Milo, Stanley's dog, is at least as clever as his master; a cop sees that The Mask's tie is of the same odd material as Stanley's pajamas. Stanley's apartment is a teenage boy's bedroom: the whole look of the film is funny, but the message isn't lost: A man with the right moves is no longer a nerd. The story, decor, and the idea of a mask as an anchor for an energetic message illuminate his gift.
Jim Carrey, Cameron Diaz, Richard Jeni, Peter Riegert
A mask; its wearer becomes irresistable to a beautiful woman
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