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Have you ever wanted to see a superhero story where the lovechild of Mr. Hyde and a Looney Tunes character, by way of an object like Goosebumps' Haunted Mask, is the protagonist? Probably not, right? But this film provides that, and it has a surprising amount of success with the idea.
Stanley Ipkiss is an awkward loser type who loves cartoons and struggles to have a social life. When he comes across the titular Mask, a Norse artifact that takes over and allows you to live out your innermost desires, he turns into the screwball cartoon protagonist he so loves and wreaks havoc in his city. The homage to classic cartoons is done perfectly. Stanley as The Mask is an obnoxious little shithead who always comes out on top with disguises, slapstick and cartoon logic, and it's a delight to watch due to how right they got it. He'll change outfits in the blink of an eye or pull exaggerated performances, all of which, of course, fool his targets to let him escape. The "Mr. Hyde meets Joker" look is also really good.
The plot of the film is really a backdrop for the titular character/gimmick and a showcase for the effects (which are good to this day, due to the cartoon thesis). Stanley is caught up in a bank-robbing conspiracy with the city mob, and he has to figure out who he should really live as. It's entertaining enough, and there are some good moments outside of the Mask's delightful smartassery.
Stanley himself is okay, I guess. It's hard not to see why he hasn't exactly been popular with the ladies due to his awkward, childish interactions with people, but he's still a good guy and the Mask ultimately brings out some needed confidence. I do sort of like that he's still just an ordinary guy, and needs more than what he has to save the day, instead of somehow being gifted with the skills he needs.
This film is a lot of fun, especially to cartoon fans. While very different from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, it serves as a nice companion.
Good review for one of my all-time favorite movies; your first paragraph really nails the novelty I so love about it. I guess I never fully realized the correlation between Stanley loving those old cartoons and his persona while wearing The Mask. But you\'re right, he really does come off like an implausible yet hilarious Bugs Bunny type, an animated smartass who can basically do and get away with any whacky thing that comes to mind.
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