The Mask (film)

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The Mask
The Mask (film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Charles Russell
Produced by Bob Engelman
Screenplay by Mike Werb
Story by Michael Fallon
Mark Verheiden
Based on
Music by Randy Edelman
Cinematography John R. Leonetti
Edited by Arthur Coburn
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date
  • July 29, 1994 (1994-07-29)
Running time
101 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $23 million[2]
Box office $351.6 million[2]

The Mask is a 1994 American superhero dark fantasy comedy film directed by Charles Russell, produced by Bob Engelman, and written by Mike Werb, based on the comic series of the same name published by Dark Horse Comics. The film stars Jim Carrey, Peter Greene, Amy Yasbeck, Peter Riegert, Richard Jeni, Ben Stein, Joely Fisher, and Cameron Diaz in her film debut. It revolves around an unlucky bank clerk finding a mask that grants the wearer cartoon-like superpowers.

The film was released on July 29, 1994 by New Line Cinema, becoming a critical and commercial success, grossing over $351.6 million over a $23 million budget and receiving positive reviews. It cemented Carrey's reputation as a dominant actor of the 1990s, and established Diaz long-term 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.


Stanley Ipkiss is a shy and unlucky bank clerk working at the local Edge City bank. He is frequently ridiculed by everyone around him, except for his Jack Russell Terrier Milo, and his co-worker and best friend Charlie Schumaker. Meanwhile, gangster Dorian Tyrell, owner of the Coco Bongo nightclub, plots to overthrow his boss Niko. One day, Tyrell sends his singer girlfriend Tina Carlyle into Stanley's bank to record its layout, in preparation to rob the bank.

Stanley is attracted to Tina, and she seems to reciprocate. Unable to enter the Coco Bongo to watch Tina perform, Stanley finds a wooden mask near the city's harbor. Placing it on his face transforms him into a green-faced, zoot-suited, bizarre, wisecracking trickster known as the Mask, who is able to cartoonishly alter himself and his surroundings at will. As The Mask, Stanley exacts revenge on his tormentors and scares off a street gang that attempts to rob him by turning a balloon into a Tommy gun.

The next morning, Stanley encounters detective Lieutenant Kellaway and newspaper reporter Peggy Brandt investigating the Mask's activity of the previous night. To attend Tina's performance, he again becomes the Mask to raid the bank, inadvertently foiling Tyrell's plan in the process. At the Coco Bongo, Stanley dances exuberantly with Tina, whom he ends up kissing. Following a confrontation with Tyrell for disrupting the bank robbery, Stanley flees leaving behind a scrap of cloth from his suit that transforms back into his pajamas, while Tyrell and his men are arrested by Kellaway and his partner Doyle.

Based on the piece of cloth, Kellaway suspects Stanley to be the bank robber. Stanley later consults a psychiatrist who has recently published a book on masks and is discovered that the object may be a depiction of Loki, the Norse god of darkness and mischief. The same night, Stanley meets Tina at a local park as the Mask, but the meeting is interrupted by Kellaway, who attempts to capture him. Stanley tricks a large group of police officers into joining him in a mass-performance of the Desi Arnaz song "Cuban Pete" and flees with Peggy, but she betrays him to Tyrell for a $50,000 bounty. Using the mask, Tyrell becomes a malevolent green-faced monster. Tyrell's henchmen ends up in the possession of the stolen money after Stanley is forced to reveal its location; and they turn Stanley in to the police.

When Tina visits Stanley in the station, he urges her to flee the city. Tina thanks Stanley for his generosity and tells him that she knew he was the Mask all along. She attempts to leave the city, but is captured by Tyrell's men and forcibly taken to a charity ball at the Coco Bongo hosted by Niko and attended by the city's elite, including Mayor Tilton. Upon arrival, the masked Tyrell kills Niko and prepares to destroy both the club and Tina with dynamite. Milo helps Stanley escape from the station, and Stanley brings Kellaway as a cover and hostage in a desperate attempt to stop Tyrell.

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 fights Tyrell's men, while Stanley fights Tyrell, himself. After recovering the mask, Stanley uses its special powers to rescue Tina by swallowing Tyrell's bomb and flushing Tyrell down the drain of the club's ornamental fountain. The police arrive and arrest Tyrell's remaining henchmen and attempt to capture Stanley once again. However, Tilton tells Kellaway to release Stanley because Tyrell was the Mask the whole time and Tilton calls Stanley a hero for his actions and must have a meeting with Kellaway at dawn.

As the sun rises the following day, all charges against Stanley are dropped. To avoid getting involved with the police again, Stanley decides to return the mask back to the harbor. Tina throws the mask into the water, and she and Stanley kiss. Charlie then jumps in the water to retrieve the mask for himself, only to find Milo swimming away with it.


  • Jim Carrey as Stanley Ipkiss / The Mask. Carrey commented that he characterized Stanley after his own father: "a nice guy, just trying to get by".[citation needed] Carrey was paid $450,000 for starring in the film, which was a huge bargain for New Line Cinema at the time.
  • Cameron Diaz as Tina Carlyle, Dorian Tyrell's girlfriend and lounge singer at the Coco Bongo who later becomes Stanley's love interest. This role marked the feature film debut for Cameron Diaz. Before Diaz was cast, the studio considered casting Anna Nicole Smith, Vanessa Williams and Kristy Swanson. After Diaz auditioned twelve times for the role, she was finally cast only a week before filming began.[citation needed]
  • Peter Greene as Dorian Tyrell, a mobster who wants to take over the city's underworld. Greene was cast after the studio's top choice, Gary Kemp, turned it down.
  • Richard Jeni as Charlie Schumaker, Stanley's best friend and colleague.
  • Peter Riegert as Lt. Mitch Kellaway, a cynical police detective who hunts the Mask, as well as Tyrell and Niko. Before Riegert was cast, the studio considered Richard Gere for the role.
  • Jim Doughan as Det. Doyle, Lt. Kellaway's dim-witted partner.
  • Amy Yasbeck as Peggy Brandt, a reporter with a crush on Stanley. In a deleted scene, Peggy is killed by Tyrell shortly after he first puts the mask on.
  • Orestes Matacena as Niko, a Greek mafia boss and Tyrell's nemesis.
  • Eamonn Roche as Mr. Dickey, the son of the Bank President who is Stanley and Charlie's superior.
  • Nancy Fish as Mrs. Peenman, Stanley's grumpy land-lady.
  • Tim Bagley as Irv Ripley, a mechanic who rips off Stanley.
  • Johnny Williams as Burt Ripley, a mechanic and Irv's brother.
  • Reginald E. Cathey as Freeze (called The Doctor in the film), Dorian Tyrell's trusted lieutenant and friend whose death, inadvertently caused by The Mask, drives Tyrell into a personal vendetta against Ipkiss.
  • Denis Forest as Sweet Eddy, one of Tyrell's henchmen. Before Forest was cast, the studio considered Chris Elliott for the role.
  • Nils Allen Stewart as Orlando, another of Tyrell's henchmen.
  • Ivory Ocean as Mayor Mitchell Tilton, the mayor of Edge City.
  • Joely Fisher as Maggie, another one of Stanley's colleagues.
  • Ben Stein as Dr. Arthur Neuman, Stanley's psychologist. He is the only character to appear in both The Mask and its sequel Son of the Mask.
  • Royal Crown Revue as themselves / The Coco Bongo Band
  • Max as Milo


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.[3]

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.[4]

Initially intended to become a new horror franchise, New Line Cinema offered the job of directing the film to Chuck Russell.[5] However, Russell found the violence of the comic to be off-putting, and wanted the film be less grim and more fun than the source material.[6]

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.[7] Mike Werb wrote his first draft of The Mask in less than six weeks, and less than two months later it was green-lit.[8]

According to Mike 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. After that the film went into development hell.[9]

There were a lot of VFX scenes that had to be cut for budget.[10]

Visual effects[edit]

The Mask's visual effects were handled by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and Digital Domain. The sequences in the film which involved computer animation were supervised by ILM animation director Wes Takahashi.[11]



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. The film also received positive reviews from critics, including Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, who gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, noting Jim Carrey for his "joyful performance."[12] 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, though The Mask was the most successful of these three films both critically and commercially. The film is also notable for immediately establishing Diaz – previously a complete unknown – as a major star in Hollywood as well. The film is also considered a cult classic.[citation needed]

Critical reception[edit]

It currently holds a 77% "Certified Fresh" rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus stating "It misses perhaps as often as it hits, but Carrey's manic bombast, Diaz's blowsy appeal, and the film's overall cartoony bombast keep The Mask afloat."[13] On the television program Siskel & Ebert & the Movies, the critics gave the film "two thumbs up". Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from film critics, gave The Mask a rating score of 56, indicating "mixed or average reviews" based on 12 reviews.

The film was nominated for Best Visual Effects at the 67th Academy Awards, but lost to Forrest Gump. In addition, Carrey was nominated for a Golden Globe. Conversely, he was also nominated for a Razzie Award for "Worst New Star".

The film is also recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


Original soundtrack[edit]

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 Mask: Music from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released July 26, 1994 (1994-07-26)
Genre Swing, retro swing, pop rock, R&B, new jack swing
Label Chaos/Columbia

Track listing[edit]

  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 label Epic Soundtrax released an orchestral score soundtrack to The Mask shortly after the original soundtrack's release. The score was composed and conducted by Randy Edelman and performed by the Irish Film Orchestra.

Orchestral score track listing[edit]

  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


Chart Position
Billboard 200 80

Home video[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 an interview between Jim Carrey and Space Ghost, as a promotion for their corporate sibling Cartoon Network's Space Ghost Coast to Coast after the film. It also had a trailer for Jim Carrey's then-upcoming film, Dumb and Dumber, and ads for the soundtrack to the film, and for what was then branded as Betty Crocker Pop Secret. It was later released on Blu-ray Disc on December 9, 2008.[16] It has an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is encoded in 1080p/VC-1. Its audio is a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD encoded at a 16 bit / 48 kHz sample rate. Special features include additional scenes, production details and two commentary tracks, one by director Chuck Russell and the other by the rest of the production crew.


An animated television series was made, The Mask: Animated Series, and a video game for the Super Nintendo, The Mask, were both based on the film.


After the success of the original, a sequel was planned, with magazine Nintendo Power offering readers a chance, via sweepstakes, to win a cameo role in the film.[17] However Jim Carrey eventually bailed on the project forcing, amongst other things, for Nintendo Power to give the winner of the contest the equivalent cash value instead.[17] A critically panned sequel, Son of the Mask, not featuring Carrey, was eventually released in 2005.

Possible third film[edit]

On the possibility of a third film, Mike Richardson has said, "We've been talking about reviving The Mask, both in film and in comics. We've had a couple of false starts."[18]


  1. ^ "The Mask". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Mask (1994)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 27, 2013. 
  3. ^ '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. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  4. ^ Ching, Albert (20 October 2013). "NYCC: Palmiotti, Richie & Richardson Talk Comics and Hollywood". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 9 September 2017. 
  5. ^ THN Exclusive: Chuck Russell talks I Am Wrath, The Mask and Freddy Krueger Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  6. ^ Shapiro, Marc (August 1994). "Mask Maker". Starlog. No. 205. pp. 32–35. Retrieved 9 September 2017. 
  7. ^ 'MASK' MASTERMIND: But Aren't All Screenwriters Former Teen-Age Geek Losers? Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  8. ^ An Interview with Face/Off Screenwriter Mike Werb Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  9. ^ Jankiewicz, Pat (September 1994). "Masks of Time". Starlog. No. 206. pp. 40–45. Retrieved 9 September 2017. 
  10. ^ An Interview with Face/Off Screenwriter Mike Werb Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  11. ^ "Subject: Wes Ford Takahashi". Animators' Hall of Fame. Retrieved 14 June 2016. 
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 29, 1994). "The Mask". Retrieved 2006-08-01. 
  13. ^ "The Mask (1994)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 27, 2013. 
  14. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-12. 
  15. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  16. ^ Dreuth, Josh (2008-12-09). "Today on Blu-ray – December 9". Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  17. ^ a b Ponce, Tony. "Meet the winner of Nintendo Power's The Mask II contest". Destructoid. Retrieved 8 September 2016. 
  18. ^ Sunu, Steve (7 August 2014). "EXCLUSIVE: Richardson Details Dark Horse's "Itty Bitty Mask" Plans". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 9 September 2017. 

External links[edit]