The Mask (1994 film)

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The Mask
A green faced man in yellow suit and hat
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChuck Russell
Screenplay byMike Werb
Story by
Based onThe Mask
by Dark Horse Comics
Produced byBob Engelman
CinematographyJohn R. Leonetti
Edited byArthur Coburn
Music byRandy Edelman
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release date
  • July 29, 1994 (1994-07-29)
Running time
101 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$18–23 million[2][3]
Box office$351.6 million[2]

The Mask is a 1994 American superhero comedy film directed by Chuck Russell and produced by Bob Engelman from a screenplay by Mike Werb and a story by Michael Fallon and Mark Verheiden loosely based on the comics published by Dark Horse Comics. The first installment in The Mask franchise, it stars Jim Carrey in the title role, alongside Peter Riegert, Peter Greene, Amy Yasbeck, Richard Jeni and Cameron Diaz in her film debut. Carrey plays Stanley Ipkiss, a hapless, everyday bank clerk who finds a magical wooden green mask that transforms him into The Mask, a green-faced troublemaker with the ability to animate and alter himself and his surroundings at will. He starts using these powers mischievously, only to become targeted by Dorian Tyrell, a gangster who desires to overthrow his superior. Filming began on 30 August 1993 and concluded in October 1993.[4]

The film was released on July 29, 1994, by New Line Cinema, becoming a critical and commercial success. The film grossed over $351 million on a $18–23 million budget, which made it the most-profitable film based on a comic up to that point. The film also influenced the resurgence of swing music in the 1990s. It cemented Carrey's reputation as a significant actor of the 1990s, and it established Diaz as a leading lady. Carrey was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role, and the film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects but lost to Forrest Gump. A standalone sequel, Son of the Mask, was released in 2005 to a critical and box office bomb.


In Edge City, insecure bank clerk Stanley Ipkiss is frequently ridiculed by everyone except for his co-worker and best friend, Charlie Schumaker. Meanwhile, gangster Dorian Tyrell, who runs the Coco Bongo nightclub, plots to overthrow his superior, Niko. One day, Tyrell sends his dazzling singer-girlfriend, Tina Carlyle, into the bank to record its layout for an upcoming robbery. Stanley is attracted to Tina, and she seemingly reciprocates.

After being denied entrance to the Coco Bongo to watch Tina perform, Stanley's faulty loaner car breaks down during his drive home. While looking over the harbor bridge in despair, he tries rescuing a humanoid figure in the waters but finds it to be a pile of garbage concealing a wooden mask. Upon returning to his apartment and donning the mask, he transforms into a green-faced, zoot-suited trickster known as "The Mask", who can animate and alter himself and his surroundings at will. With newfound confidence, Stanley indulges in a chaotic rampage through the city, humiliating several of his tormentors, including his temperamental landlady, Agnes Peenman, and assaulting the mechanics who gave him the faulty car.

The next morning, Stanley encounters detective Lieutenant Mitch Kellaway and newspaper reporter Peggy Brandt, both of whom are investigating the Mask's activity. To obtain the funds necessary to attend Tina's performance, Stanley dons the mask and robs the bank, inadvertently foiling Tyrell's robbery. At the Coco Bongo, Stanley dances exuberantly with Tina, whom he ends up kissing. Shortly after, Tyrell confronts him for disrupting the robbery and Stanley flees, leaving behind a scrap of cloth from his suit, which reverts into a piece of his pajamas. After arresting Tyrell and his henchman, Kellaway finds the piece of cloth and suspects Stanley's involvement.

Later, Stanley consults Doctor Arthur Neuman, a psychiatrist who has recently published a metaphorical book on masks, and deduces that the mask may be a creation of Loki, the Norse god of mischief, and its powers are only active at night. Though Neuman believes it is mythology, he concludes that the Mask's personality is based on Stanley's repressed desires. That night, Stanley meets Tina at a local park as the Mask, until they are interrupted by Kellaway, who attempts to capture him. Stanley flees with Peggy after he distracts the police with a mass performance of the titular song from Cuban Pete; she then betrays him to Tyrell for a $50,000 bounty. Tyrell dons the mask, becoming a bulky and demonic green-faced being. Tyrell's henchmen force Stanley to reveal the location of the stolen money before turning him in to the police.

When Tina visits Stanley in the station, he urges her to leave the city. Tina thanks Stanley for showing her kindness and tells him the mask was unnecessary. She attempts to flee but is kidnapped by Tyrell and forcibly taken to a charity ball at the Coco Bongo, hosted by Niko and attended by the city's elite, including the mayor. Upon arrival, the masked Tyrell kills Niko and prepares to destroy the club with a time bomb. Milo, Stanley's dog, helps Stanley escape from the station by retrieving the keys from the guard. Stanley sets out to stop Tyrell, taking Kellaway hostage.

After locking Kellaway in his car, Stanley enters the club and enlists Charlie's help, but is quickly discovered and captured. Tina tricks Tyrell into removing the mask, which is recovered and donned by Milo, who battles his way through Tyrell's henchmen as Stanley and Tyrell fight each other. Stanley retrieves the mask, uses its powers to swallow the bomb seconds before it detonates, and then flushes Tyrell down the drain of the club's ornamental fountain; the police arrive and arrest Tyrell's henchmen. Kellaway tries arresting Stanley again, but the mayor intervenes, implicating Tyrell as the Mask and praising Stanley as a hero.

The following day, Stanley, exonerated and more secure returns to the harbor bridge with Tina. Tina throws the mask into the water before she and Stanley share a kiss. Charlie tries to retrieve the mask for himself, only for Milo to swim away with it.


  • Jim Carrey as Stanley Ipkiss / The Mask: An everyday polite, nice, kind, down-on-his-luck bank employee who is mistreated and taken advantage of by people which Carrey commented that he characterized Stanley after his own father: "a nice guy, just trying to get by." When he wears the Mask, Stanley becomes a mischievous, green-faced figure known as The Mask who has the ability to animate and alter himself and his surroundings at will.
  • Max as Milo, Stanley's Jack Russell Terrier. When wearing the Mask, Milo becomes quite aggressive and mischievous but is still friendly and loyal to his owner.[5][6]
  • Peter Greene as Dorian Tyrell, a rogue mafia officer who desires to overthrow his superior, Niko. He is psychopathic, manipulative, and arrogant. When wearing the Mask; acted by Garret T. Sato in make-up, Tyrell becomes a bulky and malevolent being that speaks in a deep demonic voice.
  • Cameron Diaz as Tina Carlyle, Tyrell's glamorous and beautiful girlfriend, is also attracted to Stanley. Tina is dissatisfied with Tyrell as a partner but does not defy him until Stanley has courted her.
  • Orestes Matacena as Niko, Tyrell's superior and the owner of the Coco Bongo.
  • Peter Riegert as Lieutenant Mitch Kellaway, A slightly cynical police detective lieutenant who pursues the Mask, Tyrell, and Stanley throughout the film.
  • Jim Doughan as Detective Doyle, Kellaway's slightly inept partner.
  • Richard Jeni as Charles "Charlie" Schumaker, Stanley's best friend. Charlie is amiable but can be selfish or irrational at times.
  • Amy Yasbeck as Peggy Brandt, a reporter, looking for a scoop to get her out of the advice column. The character appeared in the animated series.
  • Jeremy Roberts as Bobby, one of Tyrell's henchmen employed as the bouncer at the Coco Bongo. He is a friend of Charlie.
  • Ben Stein as Dr. Arthur Neuman: A psychologist who tells Stanley about the mask being a creation of Loki. He is also the author of the book, The Masks We Wear, which deals with people portraying themselves differently on the outside to be accepted by others.
  • Ivory Ocean as Mayor Tilton: The mayor of Edge City.
  • Reg E. Cathey as Freeze, one of Tyrell's henchmen and a loyal friend of his.
  • Denis Forest as Sweet Eddy, one of Tyrell's henchmen.
  • Eamonn Roche as Mr. Dickey, Stanley and Charlie's supervisor at Edge City Bank.
  • Nancy Fish as Agnes Peenman, Stanley's temperamental landlady.
  • Nils Allen Stewart as Orlando, one of Tyrell's henchmen.
  • Blake Clark as Murray, Peggy's supervisor at the city's local newspaper.
  • Joely Fisher as Maggie, a client who comes to buy concert tickets, and blows Stanley off for her friend. She appears only in the beginning of the film.



In 1989, Mike Richardson and Todd Moyer, who was Executive Vice President of Dark Horse Comics, first approached New Line Cinema about adapting the comic The Mask into a film, after having seen other offers. The main character went through several transformations, and the project was stalled a couple of times.[7]

One unused "Mask" idea, according to Mike Richardson, was to transform the story into one about a mask-maker who took faces off of corpses to put them on teens and turn them into zombies.[8]

Initially intended to become a new horror franchise, New Line Cinema offered the job of directing the film to Chuck Russell.[9] Russell found the violence of the comic to be off-putting and wanted the film to be less grim and adult-oriented and more fun and family-friendly than the source material.[10]


Mike Werb says Chuck Russell tapped him after reading his script for Curious George for Imagine. The two decided to turn The Mask into a wild romantic comedy.[11] Mike Werb wrote his first draft of The Mask in less than six weeks, and less than two months later it was green-lit.[12]

According to Mark Verheiden, they had a first draft screenplay for a film version done back in 1990. Verheiden then wrote the second draft in early 1991, adding more humor, and that ended up being the only work he did on The Mask. Veriheiden's revised draft included more instances of fourth wall breaking like "cameos" by critics Siskel and Ebert, and dark content such as excessive bloodshed and sexual assault. The characters Stanley, Kellaway, and Doyle carried into the final film; Stanley's girlfriend Kathleen (inspired by Kathy from the comics) evolved into Tina Carlyle while Scully and Vitelli became Dorian Tyrell and Niko, respectively.[13] After that, the film entered development hell.[14]


In the early stages various actors were suggested as possibilities for the lead role, including Rick Moranis, Martin Short, and Robin Williams.[15] New Line executive Mike DeLuca sent a tape of Jim Carrey performing a sketch from the comedy show In Living Color to Richardson who was immediately impressed by the contortionist comedian.[15] Director Chuck Russell had seen Carrey perform live at The Comedy Store and followed him on In Living Color and was keen to cast him in the film. Carrey was top of his list and the script had been rewritten for him but Nicolas Cage and Matthew Broderick were also kept in consideration.[15]

For producer Bob Engelman, it was a good lineup, since Carrey came to act sick. He recalls:

Jim did things that, obviously when he became a superstar, he never would do. I remember one night when he was sick as a dog and he was throwing up and he said, "I can't do this." I said, "Look, Jim, they won't let us shut down. If we don't get this, we don't get this." We dragged him out of the trailer and he was a trooper and got it in there delivered and was fantastic. But those are the sort of things that would not have happened when Jim became the superstar that he became.[16]

Russell had wanted Anna Nicole Smith as Tina, but she had gone to do Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult instead. A costume director he had worked with had been recommending Cameron Diaz and they got her to audition for the part.[15] The character was originally written as a good girl who is actually bad but after Diaz was cast the part was rewritten to make her genuinely a good person.[15] In fact, Mike Richardson (Dark Horse founder and Mask creator) said to Forbes that Diaz was great on making the movie. "If you watch the film again, you'll notice scenes where Jim and Cameron are together. If you watch her face, oftentimes, Jim was doing something, and she would break out laughing the minute the scene ended".[17]

Visual effects[edit]

The Mask's visual effects were handled by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and Dream Quest Images. The sequences in the film which involved computer animation were supervised by ILM animation director Wes Takahashi.[18] There were a lot of VFX scenes that had to be cut for budget.[12] Make-up effects artist Greg Cannom realized Carrey's exaggerated facial expressions were part of his essence, and didn't want them lost behind makeup.[19]



Swing music featured prominently in the film, and Royal Crown Revue made an on-screen cameo, which in turn influenced the swing revival later in the decade.[20]

The Mask: Music From the New Line Cinema Motion Picture was released on July 26, 1994, on Chaos Records through Sony Music Entertainment. It features music from Xscape, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Vanessa Williams, Harry Connick Jr., Carrey himself and more. The songs "Cuban Pete" and "Hey Pachuco" were also used for the trailer of the 1997 Disney film Flubber.

The Mask: Music from the New Line Cinema Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedJuly 26, 1994 (1994-07-26)
Chart Position
Billboard 200 80[21]
  1. "Cuban Pete" (C & C Pop Radio Edit) – Jim Carrey
  2. "Who's That Man?" – Xscape
  3. "This Business of Love" – Domino
  4. "Bounce Around" – Tony! Toni! Toné!
  5. "(I Could Only) Whisper Your Name" – Harry Connick Jr.
  6. "You Would Be My Baby" – Vanessa Williams
  7. "Hi De Ho" – K7
  8. "Let the Good Times Roll" – Fishbone
  9. "Straight Up" – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
  10. "Hey! Pachuco!" – Royal Crown Revue
  11. "Gee, Baby, Ain't I Good to You" – Susan Boyd
  12. "Cuban Pete" (Arkin Movie Mix) – Jim Carrey


The record labels TriStar Music and Epic Soundtrax released an orchestral score soundtrack to The Mask after the original soundtrack's release. The score was composed and conducted by Randy Edelman, performed by the Irish Film Orchestra, recorded at Windmill Lane Studios Ireland.[22]

  1. Opening – The Origin of the Mask
  2. Tina
  3. Carnival
  4. Transformation
  5. Tango In The Park
  6. Lovebirds
  7. Out of the Line of Fire
  8. A Dark Night
  9. The Man Behind the Mask
  10. Dorian Gets a New Face
  11. Looking for a Way Out
  12. The Search
  13. Forked Tongue
  14. Milo to the Rescue
  15. The Mask Is Back
  16. Finale


Box office[edit]

The film was a box-office success, grossing $119 million domestically and over $350 million worldwide,[2] becoming the second-highest grossing superhero movie at that time, behind Batman. In terms of global gross compared to budget, the film became the most-profitable comic book movie of all time, and remained so until 2019, when Joker surpassed it.[23] The Mask is one of three films featuring Carrey (the others being Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Dumb and Dumber) released in 1994 that helped launch the actor to superstardom; The Mask was the most successful of these three films both critically and commercially.

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a "Certified Fresh" approval rating of 80% based on reviews from 54 critics, with an average rating of 6.5/10. The site's consensus states: "It misses perhaps as often as it hits, but Jim Carrey's manic bombast, Cameron Diaz's blowsy appeal, and the film's overall cartoony bombast keep The Mask afloat."[24] Metacritic gave it a weighted average score of 56 out of 100 based on reviews from 12 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[25] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[26]

On the television program At the Movies, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert gave the film "two thumbs up".[citation needed] In his column, Ebert, who was underwhelmed by his performance in Ace Ventura, thought Carrey found "a perfect vehicle" in The Mask. He also praised the art design and called Diaz "a true discovery".[19]


The film was nominated for Best Visual Effects at the 67th Academy Awards, but lost to Forrest Gump. Carrey was nominated for a Golden Globe but also a Razzie Award (for "Worst New Star").[citation needed]

Year-end lists[edit]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS and Laserdisc on January 18, 1995 and on DVD on March 26, 1997. The VHS version included the Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode "The Mask", which featured interviews with Jim Carrey and Chuck Russell. It was later released on Blu-ray Disc on December 9, 2008.[29] It was the most rented title in the UK for the year with 3.8 million rentals.[30]

Other media[edit]

Animated series[edit]

An animated television series, entitled The Mask: Animated Series, was made over 54 episodes from 1995 to 1997, with Rob Paulsen as Stanley Ipkiss, his alter-ego The Mask, and Neil Ross as Kellaway. Its final episode was a crossover with The Mask and another Jim Carrey character, Ace Ventura. This would later continue in an episode of the Ace Ventura: Pet Detective cartoon series.

Video game[edit]

A video game based on the movie, also titled The Mask, was released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System by Black Pearl Software.


After the success of the original, a sequel film was planned, with magazine Nintendo Power offering readers a chance, via sweepstakes, to win a cameo role in the film.[31] Carrey eventually bailed on the project, forcing, amongst other things, Nintendo Power to give the winner of the contest the equivalent cash value instead.[32] A standalone sequel, Son of the Mask, featuring neither Carrey nor Diaz, was eventually released in 2005, but it was a critical and commercial failure upon release, and the franchise was put on hold indefinitely. The film is considered one of the worst films ever made.

On the possibility of a direct sequel to the 1994 film with Carrey reprising the role of Stanley Ipkiss and Diaz as Tina Carlyle, Mike Richardson said in a 2014 interview, "We've been talking about reviving The Mask, both in film and in comics. We've had a couple of false starts".[33]


  1. ^ Credited as New Line Productions during the opening sequence.


  1. ^ "The Mask". British Board of Film Classification. Archived from the original on February 21, 2015. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "The Mask (1994)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on February 4, 2021. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  3. ^ "The Mask (1994)". The Numbers. Archived from the original on January 7, 2021. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  4. ^ "The Mask - Filming & Production". IMDb. December 23, 2022.
  5. ^ "Milo (The Mask)". Archived from the original on June 30, 2020. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  6. ^ Pinsker, Beth (August 19, 1994). "Max the dog steals The Mask". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on June 27, 2020. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  7. ^ Brennan, Judy (July 31, 1994). "'Mask' Makes Dark Horse Into Sure Bet for Spinoffs : The booming comic-book publisher gets a multi-picture deal before the Jim Carrey film even opens". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Archived from the original on March 25, 2019. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  8. ^ Ching, Albert (October 20, 2013). "NYCC: Palmiotti, Richie & Richardson Talk Comics and Hollywood". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on September 9, 2017. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  9. ^ THN Exclusive: Chuck Russell talks I Am Wrath, The Mask and Freddy Krueger Archived February 18, 2020, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  10. ^ Shapiro, Marc (August 1994). "Mask Maker". Starlog. No. 205. pp. 32–35. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  11. ^ 'MASK' MASTERMIND: But Aren't All Screenwriters Former Teen-Age Geek Losers? Archived December 3, 2020, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  12. ^ a b An Interview with Face/Off Screenwriter Mike Werb Archived November 26, 2020, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  13. ^ Verheiden, Mark. "The Mask (1994)" (PDF). Script Slug. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 4, 2020. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  14. ^ Jankiewicz, Pat (September 1994). "Masks of Time". Starlog. No. 206. pp. 40–45. Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  15. ^ a b c d e Weiss, Josh (July 29, 2019). "A Ssssmokin! Oral History Of 'The Mask' On The Film's 25th Birthday". Archived from the original on July 29, 2019.
  16. ^ Weiss, Josh. "A Ssssmokin! Oral History Of 'The Mask' On The Film's 25th Birthday". Forbes. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  17. ^ Weiss, Josh. "A Ssssmokin! Oral History Of 'The Mask' On The Film's 25th Birthday". Forbes. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  18. ^ "Subject: Wes Ford Takahashi". Animators' Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on August 12, 2016. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  19. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (July 29, 1994). "The Mask". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on December 16, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2006.
  20. ^ Partridge, Kenneth (May 29, 2018). "In Defense of the Swing Revival: Why America Flipped for '40s Sounds in 1998". Billboard. Retrieved October 31, 2022.
  21. ^ "Billboard 200 Chart". Billboard. August 27, 1994. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  22. ^ "The Mask [Original Score]". AllMusic.
  23. ^ "Joker is the most profitable comic book movie of all time". Consequence of Sound. November 9, 2019. Archived from the original on November 10, 2019. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  24. ^ "The Mask (1994)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on February 27, 2021. Retrieved June 22, 2021.
  25. ^ "The Mask". Metacritic. Archived from the original on April 26, 2019. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  26. ^ "Cinemascore :: Movie Title Search". December 20, 2018. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  27. ^ Pickle, Betsy (December 30, 1994). "Searching for the Top 10... Whenever They May Be". Knoxville News-Sentinel. p. 3.
  28. ^ Craft, Dan (December 30, 1994). "Success, Failure and a Lot of In-between; Movies '94". The Pantagraph. p. B1.
  29. ^ Dreuth, Josh (December 9, 2008). "Today on Blu-ray – December 9". Archived from the original on December 17, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2009.
  30. ^ "Top 20 UK Video Rental Titles 1995". Screen International. January 26, 1996. p. 45.
  31. ^ "Player's Poll Contest". Nintendo Power. No. 77. October 1995. pp. 82–83.
  32. ^ Ponce, Tony (February 4, 2015). "Meet the winner of Nintendo Power's The Mask II contest". Destructoid. Archived from the original on September 16, 2016. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  33. ^ Sunu, Steve (August 7, 2014). "EXCLUSIVE: Richardson Details Dark Horse's "Itty Bitty Mask" Plans". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on September 9, 2017. Retrieved September 9, 2017.

External links[edit]