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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Lawrence Guterman
Cast:
Jamie Kennedy, Alan Cumming, Ryan Falconer, Bob Hoskins, Traylor Howard, Ben Stein, Gabriel Botha, Galen Botha
Writing Credits:
Lance Khazei

Tagline:
The next generation of mischief.

Synopsis:
The "Mask of Loki" falls into the hands of an aspiring cartoonist who is expecting his first child. When the child is born with supernatural power, Loki returns to earth to reclaim his mask and his 'son'.

Box Office:
Budget
$74 million.
Opening Weekend
$9.100 million on 2966 screens.
Domestic Gross
$17.010 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 94 min.
Price: $27.95
Release Date: 5/17/2005

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Lawrence Guterman, Actor Jamie Kennedy and Writer Lance Khazei
• Deleted/Alternate Scenes with Optional Commentary
• “Chow Bella - Hollywood’s Pampered Pooches” Featurette
• “Creating Son of the Mask: Digital Diapers and Dog Bytes” Featurette
• “Paw Prints and Baby Steps: On the Set of Son of the Mask” Featurette
• Storyboard and Conceptual Art Gallery
• Trailers


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RELATED REVIEWS


Son Of The Mask: New Line Platinum Series (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 5, 2005)

Although the calendar reads 2005, a look at multiplex marquees might make you think it’s the mid-Nineties. That’s because the year boasted two long-delayed sequels to movies from that era. Ten years after 1995’s Get Shorty, Be Cool finally picked up the saga of Chili Palmer. In addition, Son of the Mask finally brought us a sequel to the the 1994 Jim Carrey hit.

Don’t expect to see that mega-star here. In fact, don’t look to find any of the original movie’s main performers in Son, as only one actor - Ben Stein, who plays a very small role - pops up in the sequel. The absence of the first flick’s major actors doesn’t necessarily mean doom for the sequel, but it doesn’t bode well.

Son introduces us to Norse god of mischief Loki (Alan Cumming). He comes to Edge City to reclaim his magical mask, but unfortunately he finds that the one in a museum is a fake. We learn that his pop Odin (Bob Hoskins) sent Loki to locate it and rectify the problems he’s caused.

From there we head to the “Fringe City” countryside to meet young married couple Tim (Jamie Kennedy) and Tonya Avery (Traylor Howard). They have some problems because she really wants a baby, whereas he’s anxious to get his cartooning career off the ground. He works in an animation studio - as a costumed mascot.

Their little dog Otis finds the real magical mask and brings it into their home. When Tim needs a costume for a Halloween party at work, he takes the mask out of desperation. As anyone who saw the first film will guess, this turns him into the life of the party. He goes home still as his mask-self and gives Tonya some sweet, sweet lovin’.

Tim’s impressive performance at the party dazzles his boss (Steven Wright), and this earns him a promotion into the animation department. Tim’s impressive performance in the sack knocks up Tonya, although there’s clearly something odd afoot. For instance, when Tim looks at the ultrasound, the fetus appears to boogie.

The couple soon has a baby boy, and that sets off repercussions with Odin. He detects that there’s a child connected to the mask and pesters Loki about it even more. In the meantime, we see that baby Alvey (Liam and Ryan Falconer) has some unusual powers.

A few plot threads emerge. Loki searches for the baby so he can find the mask. Tonya goes away for business and leaves the baby alone with Tim. He gets saddled with his own work problems and neglects his son to accomplish those. This upsets Alvey who then uses his wacky powers - and what he learned from a mix of cartoons - to drive his pop insane. Lastly, Milo dons the mask to find a way to get rid of Alvey since the baby has usurped his position in the family.

It took them 11 years to make this? I suppose the big question is this: could Son of the Mask be worse than it is? Sure, yeah, maybe. I mean, the two Baby Geniuses movies were crummier, and I’m sure I could think of something else equally terrible if I tried.

However, I don’t want to exert a lot of brainpower on the subject, so suffice it to say that Son is bad - really, really bad. Didn’t New Line learn from the failure of Dumb and Dumberer that it’s a mistake to try to replace Jim Carrey? Granted, Son doesn’t take the Dumberer route and cast another actor in the same part; we don’t ever see Carrey’s Stanley Ipkiss in the sequel. In addition, it focuses much less strongly on its lead actor in Mask form. Tim turns into the Mask only twice in the film, and for fairly brief periods both times.

That’s probably a good idea since it means the film won’t create so many direct comparisons between Carrey and Kennedy. Unfortunately, it remains difficult not to contrast the pair, and Kennedy comes up lacking in every possible way. I like Kennedy and think he did good work in Scream and elsewhere. However, he’s horribly miscast here. He can’t pull off the wacky comedy of the Mask bits, and he seems downright unlikable as a new father. Granted, some of that’s intentional, so perhaps I should fault the script more than the actor, but he still fails to do anything to make Tim come across well.

Whereas the original movie used visual effects to accentuate the comedy and relied mostly on Carrey’s talents, the sequel depends on computer animation to an extreme. Virtually all of its attempts at humor come from the cartooniness created with the computer. Mostly this means wacky baby gags, as the animation brings little Alvey to life in many unconvincing ways. No matter how hard they try, the effects folks can’t create a realistic CG baby, and I never was able to suspend disbelief as I watched his antics.

Not that I wanted to do so, since virtually all of the gags stink. Inevitably, many revolve around bodily functions, and these turn really tasteless. I actually cringed as I watched these unfunny and disgusting bits. Most of the others steal - or at least take their inspiration from - classic cartoons, and those also look feeble. The original “Some Froggy Evening” short? Pretty good. A baby version of that? Horrendous.

Essentially, Son of the Mask doesn’t attempt much of a story. It prefers to simulate a very long cartoon. Too bad it’s a very bad, very long cartoon. Little more than an excuse for more cutesy CG baby gags, there’s no talent or cleverness on display here. It borrows from many superior sources to create an unwatchable and totally humorless mélange of stupidity.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus B+

Son of the Mask appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though the transfer didn’t quite achieve greatness, it usually looked pretty solid.

Sharpness rarely faltered. Some wider shots occasionally displayed minor softness, but not to any significant degree. Mostly I felt the movie appeared nicely defined and distinctive. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and only a little edge enhancement could be seen. Source defects like specks or marks were absent, but the image seemed a little grainier than expected.

As one might expect from this sort of flick, we got a very bright and vibrant palette. Usually it replicated the cartoony tones well, though they sometimes looked a smidgen messy, particularly in the scenes with colored lighting. However, the film frequently demonstrated vivid and lively tones. Blacks were pretty tight and dense, and low-light shots featured good delineation, though the grain made them a little less concise. Ultimately, the image was satisfactory, though it lacked anything to make it exceptional.

As with the original film, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Son of the Mask gave us an active piece of work. However, I must note it wasn’t quite as dazzling as I thought it’d be. Make no mistake - the audio used all five speakers well. The many cartoony sequences allowed elements to zoom around various parts of the spectrum, and they did so in reasonably convincing and distinctive ways. The surrounds kicked in a lot of unique audio and added a good deal of zip to the mix.

However, the track lacked a certain spark that would take it to “A” level. The various channels threw out a lot of material but didn’t manage to make the mix excel on a consistent basis. Perhaps I was too hard on it, but I felt that a movie with this much potential for involving, anarchic audio needed to pound us more heavily than it did.

At least the audio quality was strong. Speech sounded concise and crisp, and no problems with edginess or intelligibility occurred. Music demonstrated nice range and definition. The score was bright and bold, and the various songs came across in a similar manner. Effects seemed detailed and impressive. Bass response was tight and all elements fared well. I almost gave this mix an “A-“, but for the reasons I mentioned, I thought it most deserved a “B+”. It’s a good track, but not a great one.

Despite the movie’s low profile at the box office, Son of the Mask presents a decent roster of supplements. We open with an audio commentary from director Larry Guterman, actor Jamie Kennedy, and writer Lance Khazei. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They chat about subjects like shooting in Australia, casting babies and issues related to working with kids and animals, improvisation, how the three came onto the project and challenges connected to making a sequel, visual effects, sets, story issues, editing and cut scenes, and various production notes and anecdotes.

A high-energy track, the three men interact well and make this a lively piece. They get into a lot of useful topics and convey a great deal of information about the movie’s creation. Plenty of funny moments show up as well, such as when Kennedy does his impression of the dog trainer. Inevitably, the usual happy talk shows up, and some defensiveness along with it; Kennedy makes sure he answers the flick’s critics who lumped it in with efforts like Baby Geniuses. Although I’m one of those folks, I still really like this track, as it offers an entertaining look at the production.

A whopping 19 deleted/alternate scenes run between 15 seconds and four minutes, 38 seconds for a total of 32 minutes and four seconds of footage. Most of these come across as filler. We learn more about Tim’s professional struggles, Jorge’s issues, and various baby-related sequences. We also see a longer dance number and a montage of clips created as a promo reel. There’s nothing good in the movie, so why would we expect gold from the removed segments? The deleted clips are pretty weak.

We can watch the scenes with or without commentary from director Guterman. He offers the usual array of remarks, as he tells us a little about the segments and also usually lets us know why he cut the pieces.

Next comes a featurette called Paw Prints and Baby Steps: On the Set of Son of the Mask. This 15-minute and 59-second piece offers the standard array of movie clips, behind the scenes footage, and interviews. We find remarks from Guterman, Kennedy, baby casting Jane Dawkins, baby parents Michelle and Billy Falconer, executive producer Beau Marks, producer Erica Huggins, visual effects producer Susan MacLeod, dog trainer Steve Berens, New Line co-chairman and co-CEO Bob Shaye, and actors Traylor Howard and Alan Cumming.

The show explores the casting of the babies and how they work on the set, choosing a dog and the ways the pooch operates during the shoot, and the times that both baby and dog acted at the same time. “Steps” rips through the various subjects pretty rapidly, but it gives us enough detail to make it worthwhile. The excellent footage from the set helps expand the topics and illustrates baby and dog-related challenges nicely.

A second featurette appears after this. Creating Son of the Mask: Digital Diapers and Dog Bytes fills 15 minutes and two seconds. It includes remarks from Guterman, Marks, MacLeod, Huggins, Kennedy, Cumming, visual effects producer Ned Gorman, ILM visual effects supervisors Jamie Price and Ed Hirsch, animation director Tom Bertino, ILM CG supervisor Robert Marinic, ILM art director Jules Mann, Tippett Studios visual effects supervisor Thomas Schelesny, and Tippett Studios lead animator Dovi Anderson.

As one might expect, this program covers the movies visual effects. We learn about the creation of the digital baby, cartoon influences, and the various transformations required due to the Mask and other causes, and additional challenges. Just like its predecessor, this show benefits from all the good background footage. The test shots are especially valuable, but we get plenty of other cool images as well. This turns into another informative and entertaining piece.

For the final featurette, we get Chow Bella - Hollywood’s Pampered Pooches. It goes for 15 minutes and 27 seconds and presents remarks from dog owners Marilyn Millen, Brandon Belzer, Anthony Marquez, David de Wind, andy and Christina Mata, Tomoko Watanabe Raquel Leon, Sue Chipperton, Lina Chmiel, Juan-Carlos Cruz and Eileen Ikuta, Kennel Club president Sharon Graner, LA Dogworks owner Andrew Rosenthal, LA Dogworks salon director Brenda Howard, LA Dogworks canine massage therapist Emelio Burkhamer, Kennel Club’s John Reed, veterinarian Dr. Henry Pasternak, Three Dog Bakery owner Mark Bodnar, Fifi and Romeo VP Owen Swaby, Fifi and Romeo owner/designer Yana Syrkin and actor Tori Spelling.

A program with no connection to Son of the Mask, “Bella” instead focuses on all the ways people in LA pamper their pets. We see spas, bakeries, clothing stores and other elaborate spots. I love my dogs as much as anyone, but some of these folks scare me, especially the woman who keeps an hour-to-hour diary of her dog’s activities.

Galleries and Storyboard Sequences splits into a variety of sections. “Galleries” breaks down into three smaller domains. “Cool Car Design Concepts” runs 58 seconds as we see different sketch ideas for the Mask’s car. “Concept Art to Film Comparison” gives us glimpses of 11 different shots. First we see the initial drawing and then we look at a still from the completed sequence. Lastly, “Sketch and Storyboard Progressions” runs through the director’s thumbnail drawings for scenes, the story artist’s rendering of those images, and the final shot from the flick. These cover 17 sequences.

Two elements pop up under the “Storyboard Sequences” banner. “Storyboard to Film Comparison” runs two minutes, 49 seconds. It uses the standard splitscreen format with art on the bottom and movie on the top to contrast images for the scene in which the dog goes after the baby. “Unused Car Chase Storyboard Reel” lasts 103 seconds as it gives us a silent glimpse of an unfilmed sequence. All of these pieces provide a decent look at the artistic elements behind the film.

In addition to the trailer for Son of the Mask, a few ads appear in “Sneak Peeks”. This includes promos for Hot Wheels Acceleracers: Ignition, Racing Stripes, What’s New, Scooby-Doo? and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

For years, fans of The Mask hoped for a sequel. Son of the Mask wasn’t what they wanted. An unfunny, idiotic and pointless collection of insipid gags, it offers absolutely nothing of value. The DVD offers pretty positive picture and audio. It also includes a good roster of extras. Too bad the movie itself is such a complete waste of time.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.486 Stars Number of Votes: 323
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