tek's rating: meh and a quarter

Son of the Mask (PG)
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Caution: spoilers, not that it matters because this isn't really worth watching.

This came out in 2005, but I didn't see it until 2015. It's sort of a sequel to the 1994 movie The Mask, but I don't think it's really based on any "Mask" comic books, so I'm putting the review under "comedy" instead of "comic book movies." (I'm sorely tempted to put it under "meh.") It got really, really bad reviews, but as always, I like to decide for myself whether I like something or not. Now that I've seen it, I must say... it's pretty bad. For a good while, I was seriously considering turning off the DVD without finishing it. But I stuck with it, and ultimately I think it did get a bit better. It still mostly sucked, but at least it wasn't all unbearably bad.

It begins with Ben Stein apparently reprising his role from the first movie. Although... he was giving a tour of a museum, and it's hard for me to believe Dr. Neuman would be doing that. But whatever, it gives him a chance to talk about Norse mythology, particularly Loki, who created a mask that would imbue the wearer with his own godly powers. And while Neuman's giving his lecture, the real Loki (Alan Cumming) shows up, looking for the mask. But it turns out the one that was on display was a fake (which makes sense, because why the hell would the real mask be in a museum in Edge City?)

The real mask had been thrown in a river at the end of the first movie, and now it washes up in Fringe City, where it's found by a dog named Otis. (He's a lot like Milo from the first movie. Get it? "Milo and Otis"?) Anyway, Otis belongs to a frustrated animator-wannabe named Tim Avery (Jamie Kennedy). I suppose he's meant to be reminiscent of Jim Carrey's goofiness and downtroddenness in the first movie, but holy crap does he miss the mark. He's basically just a man-child, and while it's possible for that to be amusing or even endearing, in this case he's one of the most annoying characters I've ever seen. Tim is married to a successful woman named Tonya (Traylor Howard). Honestly, I spent most of the early part of the movie wondering why the hell she was with him, let alone actually wanted to have a baby with him. But she does want a baby, pretty badly. Meanwhile... it's Halloween, and Tim has to go to his company's costume party. He ends up taking the mask that Otis had found, and puts it on when he gets to the party. You might think things would get more interesting when he transforms, but if anything, that was the lamest scene of the entire movie. There might have been a couple of very mildly amusing gags, but mostly the scene was painful to watch. The musical number was the point when I came closest to turning off the movie.

Then he goes home after the party, and has sex with Tonya while still wearing the mask. (It was dark, so I guess she didn't notice.) The next day, Tim gets a promotion at work, since his appearance at the party as the Mask had impressed his boss (played by Steven Wright), so he finally has a chance to pitch a cartoon of his own. Then we see a montage of nine months of Tonya's pregnancy, and finally baby Alvey is born. Clearly, the baby has Loki's powers (starting even from the first sonogram), but Tonya never notices the strange things he does. Meanwhile, Tim is exhausted constantly, because he seems to be the only one missing sleep to care for Alvey (who cries pretty much all the time). So his work suffers a great deal... and then Tonya has to go away on a work trip for a week, which means things will be even harder on Tim.

This is when Alvey really starts getting weird, particularly after Tim breaks down and, against Tonya's instructions, lets him watch cartoons. (I did kind of enjoy the whole Michigan J. Frog thing, since that was essentially what was already happening, but from that point on it became intentional on Alvey's part.) Meanwhile, we had learned that Loki had been tasked by Odin (Bob Hoskins) with finding the mask so it would stop causing mischief among mortals. This became even more urgent when Odin informed him that a baby had been "born of the mask." So Loki obtains a list of recently-born babies... presumably all in Fringe City, though I have no idea how he would have known to look there. Of course, it will take awhile before he finds the right one. Meanwhile, Otis now has the mask, and uses it to transform himself. He has a series of plans to get rid of Alvey, since Tim had pretty much been ignoring him since the baby was born. And I think some of the most genuinely amusing bits in the movie came from the cartoonish rivalry between Alvey and Otis. Unfortunately, we have to sit through more of Alvey trying to gaslight Tim and generally make his life miserable, which was always unfunny and just awful.

And um... eventually Loki kidnaps Alvey, demanding that Tim return the mask in exchange for his son. And then Tonya comes home to find Tim seemingly insane. (And btw, in spite of it making sense in context, domestic violence is never funny.) And finally there's a battle between Loki and Tim (as the Mask). That wasn't as painful as the first scene where Tim had become the Mask, but it was still nowhere remotely close to Carrey level. I will say... there are some attempts at actual emotional moments in the movie, a parallel between Tim's relationship with his son and Loki's relationship with Odin, which I actually kind of liked. I mean, it was ham-handed, cliched, totally obvious... but not terrible. And of course there's a happy ending on all fronts.

So... what can I say? Jamie Kennedy was pretty horrible in this, but I don't think there was any chance of anyone doing a good job with the material he was given to work with. Alan Cumming was kind of fun as Loki, probably the best part of the movie. Traylor Howard was okay I guess, at least in comparison to Kennedy. The baby was mostly pretty awful, but that's just all the uncanny valley CGI and unfunny writing. Everyone else... meh.

Although... I'm suddenly wondering what it would be like if Brian and Stewie from Family Guy both had crazy super powers, and decided to try to kill each other. Now that's a movie I'd wanna watch....


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