Soul-Damaging Sequel

The beginning of 'Son of the Mask' is OK, but it's all downhill from there

I admit to often checking out to see the percentage of critics who like or dislike a film before I see it. When I saw that Son of the Mask was posting a miserable 4 percent positive-review rating, I figured the film would be a major hell ride. Imagine my surprise when the opening sequence struck me as not entirely foul, a reasonably good-looking and fast-paced preamble to what could be a passable flick.

The good times were not to last.

Son of the Mask is one of modern moviemaking's supreme examples of deathly overkill. An unneeded sequel to the Jim Carrey hit that came out quite a long time ago, it's a spastic, imbecilic ode to how a director can screw up a decent effort by his effects crew.

Instead of the sorely missed Carrey, we get Jamie Kennedy as the man destined to get his face sucked into the mischievous mask. When Carrey put the mask on, the result was a great hybrid of physical comedy and computer-generated graphic effects, a nice ode to Warner Bros. cartoons. When Kennedy becomes the Mask, it's actually kind of creepy, extremely unfunny and hard on the eyes.

One would think that in the 11 years since the original, makeup artists could have improved upon the look of that green face with big, white teeth. One would be wrong. Kennedy looks like a Ken doll whose face is covered with bread mold. But the failure of the character can't be entirely blamed on the makeup folks, because the voice Kennedy chooses to use is dull and ill conceived. It's sort of a riff on Carrey's original vocal work, yet stripped of the joy and humor. Extremely unoriginal.

The film is called Son of the Mask, because sex occurs while Kennedy's character is wearing his mask, resulting in an unholy pregnancy. Baby Alvey (Ryan Falconer, an interesting-looking kid) has all the powers of the mask without having to wear one. After watching some TV cartoons, he does his best impersonations of the Flintstones Bam-Bam and the Warner Brothers frog, much to the chagrin of his dad.

There are occasional, impressive-looking bits, but they all whoosh by because director Lawrence Guterman just can't slow down. This son of a bitch has serious MBD (Michael Bay Disease). Some of the stuff with Baby Alvey would've been funny had somebody at the helm stepped in and said, "Calm down!"

As for the cartoon violence in this thing, let's just say this is a hard PG. Kennedy beats the crap out of his wife (Traylor Howard) when he believes her to be possessed, and he sticks broken glass into his baby's crib. The effect is supposed to be funny, but is instead revolting. If you watch closely, little baby Ryan Falconer can be seen actually crying his head off as a result of Kennedy's manic acting. Son of the Mask could prove a very scarring experience for him.

If a movie is crap, there's a good chance Alan Cumming is in it. Sure enough, he plays Loki, god of mischief. He's required to mug his ass off and get banged up a lot by the special effects department, which he does rather awfully. Bob Hoskins, the Bob Hoskins, embarrasses himself as Loki's dad, Odin.

After Dumb and Dumberer, producers should've learned that making a sequel to a Jim Carrey movie without Carrey is a dumbass idea. How Son of the Mask was ever allowed to happen is beyond me, and is the sort of thing that causes damage deep down in my soul.

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