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, produced by Bob Engelman, and written by Mike Werb, loosely based on the Mask comics published by Dark Horse Comics. The first installment in the The Mask franchise, it stars Jim Carrey in the title role, 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 mask that transforms him into The Mask, a green-faced troublemaker with the ability to cartoonishly alter himself and his surroundings at will. He starts using these powers to fight crime, only to become targeted by Dorian Tyrell, a gangster who desires to overthrow his superior.

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 second most profitable film based on a comic up to that point, behind Superman (1978). 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 failure.


In Edge City, insecure cartoon-loving bank clerk Stanley Ipkiss is frequently ridiculed by everyone except for his co-worker and best friend, Charlie Schumaker. Meanwhile, gangster Dorian Tyrell, who owns 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.

Unable to enter the Coco Bongo to watch Tina perform and after his faulty loaner car breaks down while driving home, Stanley despairingly looks over the harbor bridge, lost in thought of what to do. His stream of thought is interrupted, however, when he finds a strange wooden mask near the harbor. Upon returning to his apartment and donning the mask, he becomes a mischievous green-faced figure known as "The Mask", who can cartoonishly alter himself and his surroundings at will. With his newfound confidence and lack of inhibitions, Stanley indulges in a comical rampage through the city, humiliating several of his tormentors, including his temperamental landlady, Agnes Peenman, and 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 again dons the mask and raids the bank, inadvertently foiling Tyrell's robbery in the process. At the Coco Bongo, Stanley becomes infatuated with Tina, who he ends up kissing after sharing an exuberant dance sequence with her. Shortly after, after Tyrell confronts him for disrupting the robbery and stealing his girlfriend, Stanley flees, leaving behind a scrap of cloth from his suit, which turns back into a piece of his pajamas.

After arresting Tyrell and his henchman, Kellaway finds the piece of cloth and suspects Stanley to be the perpetrator. The next day, Stanley consults Doctor Arthur Neuman, a psychiatrist who has recently published a book on masks and deduces that the mask is a creation of Loki. It is also revealed that the mask's powers are only active during the night. Later that night, Stanley meets Tina at a local park as the Mask, which initially disturbs her, along with being too strong and wild towards her, but he manages to win her over with his charm and sweet nature to the point they are about to kiss until they are interrupted by Kellaway, who attempts to capture him. Stanley flees with Peggy after he manages to distract the police with a mass performance of the titular song from Cuban Pete; she then betrays him to Tyrell, who was released due to insufficient evidence connecting him or his henchmen to the robbery, for a fifty thousand dollar bounty. Tyrell dons the mask, becoming a bulky and malevolent green-faced being. Tyrell's henchmen force Stanley to reveal where the stolen money is, 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 warmth she wasn't used to and tells him he didn't need the mask to be special to her. 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 then sets out to stop Tyrell, taking Kellaway hostage.

After locking Kellaway in his car, Stanley enters the club and manages to enlist the help of Charlie, but is soon after discovered and captured. Tina tricks Tyrell into taking off the mask, which is recovered and donned by Milo, who battles his way through Tyrell's henchmen as Stanley and Tyrell fight against each other. After recovering the mask, Stanley uses it to save Tina by disposing of the bomb seconds before it detonates and then defeat Tyrell by sending him down the drain of the club's ornamental fountain. The police arrive and arrest Tyrell's henchmen. Kellaway attempts to arrest Stanley again, but the mayor intervenes, telling Kellaway and the police that Tyrell was the Mask all along as a way of releasing Stanley. After Stanley and his allies leave, the mayor informs Kellaway that he needs to have a serious meeting with him in the morning.

The following day, Stanley, now exonerated and not wanting to encounter the police again, decides to dispose of the mask at the harbor, informing Tina that he will henceforth just be himself. She discards it before sharing a kiss with Stanley, to his delight. During this, 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, good-hearted, green-faced figure known as The Mask who has the ability to cartoonishly alter himself and his surroundings at will; this is implied to be the representation of Stanley's preferred fantasies about himself. Although initially intending to use the Mask's powers to get revenge on his tormentors, Stanley ultimately decided to use them for good. The Mask operates on his own agenda at first, but chooses to become a superhero in the end.
  • 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.[4][5]
  • Peter Greene as Dorian Tyrell: A mafia officer who desires to overthrow his superior, Niko. He is an insane, psychopathic, manipulative, ambitious, arrogant, paranoid and selfish individual with scant regard for those lives destroyed as a result of his ambition. When wearing the Mask, Tyrell becomes a bulky and malevolent being that speaks in a deep demonic voice; this is implied to be the representation of his malice.
  • Cameron Diaz as Tina Carlyle: Tyrell's glamorous and beautiful girlfriend who is also attracted to Stanley. Tina is dissatisfied with Tyrell as a partner but does not defy him until she has been courted by his rival. She ends up being attracted to The Mask as well, but decides to choose Stanley over him in the end, preferring Stanley’s shy personality over The Mask’s too strong nature. This role marked the feature-film debut for former model Cameron Diaz.
  • 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 Niko 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. This is shown when he attempts to retrieve the mask at the end of the film.
  • Amy Yasbeck as Peggy Brandt: A reporter. Originally, the character was murdered by Tyrell when he dons the mask for the first time, but Russell cut this scene with an eye to including a reformed Peggy in a sequel to the film (though this idea fell through when Carrey declined to return).[citation needed] 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 Doctor Arthur Neuman: A psychologist who tells Stanley about the mask being a creation of Loki. He's also the author of the book, The Masks We Wear, which deals with people portraying themselves differently to 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.
  • William Daniel Mielcarek as Doc: One of Tyrell's henchmen.
  • 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.



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.[6]

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.[7]

Initially intended to become a new horror franchise, New Line Cinema offered the job of directing the film to Chuck Russell.[8] 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.[9]


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.[10] Mike Werb wrote his first draft of The Mask in less than six weeks, and less than two months later it was green-lit.[11]

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.[12] After that, the film entered development hell.[13]


In the early stages various actors were suggested as possibilities for the lead role, including Rick Moranis, Martin Short, and Robin Williams.[14] 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.[14] 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.[14]

Russell had wanted Anna Nicole Smith as Tina, but she had gone to do Naked Gun 33+13 instead. A costume director he had worked with had been recommending Cameron Diaz and they got her to audition for the part.[14] There were many beautiful women auditioning for the part but despite not having any previous acting credits Diaz was chosen because she was funny and had great chemistry with Carrey.[14] 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.[14]

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.[15] There were a lot of VFX scenes that had to be cut for budget.[11]



The Mask: Music From the 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 Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedJuly 26, 1994 (1994-07-26)
GenreSwing, retro swing, pop rock, R&B, new jack swing
Chart Position
Billboard 200 80[16]
  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.[17]

  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. 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 79% based on reviews from 52 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."[18] Metacritic gave it a weighted average score of 56 out of 100 based on reviews from 12 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[19] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[20]

On the television program Siskel & Ebert & the Movies, the critics gave the film "two thumbs up".[citation needed] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film 3 out of 4 stars, noting Jim Carrey for his "joyful performance."[21]


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 later on DVD) by New Line Home Video. 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.[24]

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.[25] Carrey eventually bailed on the project, forcing, amongst other things, Nintendo Power to give the winner of the contest the equivalent cash value instead.[26] 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.

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."[27]


  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. ^ "Milo (The Mask)". Archived from the original on 2020-06-30. Retrieved 2020-06-27.
  5. ^ Beth Pinsker (August 19, 1994). "Max the dog steals The Mask". Archived from the original on 2020-06-27. Retrieved 2020-06-27.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Ching, Albert (20 October 2013). "NYCC: Palmiotti, Richie & Richardson Talk Comics and Hollywood". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on 9 September 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  8. ^ THN Exclusive: Chuck Russell talks I Am Wrath, The Mask and Freddy Krueger Archived 2020-02-18 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  9. ^ Shapiro, Marc (August 1994). "Mask Maker". Starlog. No. 205. pp. 32–35. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  10. ^ 'MASK' MASTERMIND: But Aren't All Screenwriters Former Teen-Age Geek Losers? Archived 2020-12-03 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  11. ^ a b An Interview with Face/Off Screenwriter Mike Werb Archived 2020-11-26 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  12. ^ Verheiden, Mark. "The Mask (1994)" (PDF). Script Slug. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 4, 2020. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  13. ^ Jankiewicz, Pat (September 1994). "Masks of Time". Starlog. No. 206. pp. 40–45. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  14. ^ a b c d e f Josh Weiss (July 29, 2019). "A Ssssmokin! Oral History Of 'The Mask' On The Film's 25th Birthday". Archived from the original on 2019-07-29.
  15. ^ "Subject: Wes Ford Takahashi". Animators' Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 12 August 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  16. ^ "Billboard 200 Chart". Billboard. 1994-08-27. Retrieved 2021-10-10.
  17. ^ "The Mask [Original Score]". AllMusic.3/5 stars
  18. ^ "The Mask (1994)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on February 27, 2021. Retrieved June 22, 2021.
  19. ^ "The Mask". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 2019-04-26. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  20. ^ "Cinemascore :: Movie Title Search". 2018-12-20. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  21. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 29, 1994). "The Mask". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on December 16, 2013. Retrieved 2006-08-01.
  22. ^ Pickle, Betsy (December 30, 1994). "Searching for the Top 10... Whenever They May Be". Knoxville News-Sentinel. p. 3.
  23. ^ Craft, Dan (December 30, 1994). "Success, Failure and a Lot of In-between; Movies '94". The Pantagraph. p. B1.
  24. ^ Dreuth, Josh (2008-12-09). "Today on Blu-ray – December 9". Archived from the original on 2008-12-17. Retrieved 2009-01-03.
  25. ^ "Player's Poll Contest". Nintendo Power (77): 82–83. October 1995.
  26. ^ Ponce, Tony. "Meet the winner of Nintendo Power's The Mask II contest". Destructoid. Archived from the original on 16 September 2016. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  27. ^ Sunu, Steve (7 August 2014). "EXCLUSIVE: Richardson Details Dark Horse's "Itty Bitty Mask" Plans". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on 9 September 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017.

External links[edit]