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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Son of the Mask (review)

Loki Pokey

When I tell you guys that it’s my job to watch bad movies so you don’t have to — though, come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve actually ever put it that way before, but it’s true — it’s movies like Son of the Mask that I’m talking about. My suffering will have been in vain if you succumb to the slick marketing — like the TV ads that try to make “Jamie Kennedy” sound like “Jim Carrey” — or to nostalgia for the 1994 film (which I think is astoundingly mediocre but is a work of genius compared to this one) and end up in a movie theater where Son of the Mask is showing. And your suffering at that point will certainly be in vain.
There’s exactly one good idea connected to Son of the Mask, and that is the idea of punkish pixie Alan Cumming (X2: X-Men United, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over) as the trickster god Loki. Of course, the execution of that idea is, in a word, awful, for director Lawrence Guterman (Cats & Dogs) immediately removed all punkish pixieness from the character of Loki here and turned him into a gay goth. This is bizarre, to say the least, but it is perhaps what happens when someone like Lawrence Guterman, whom no one has ever heard of and with good reason, gets to splash “A LAWRENCE GUTERMAN FILM” all over this debacle like he’s Orson Welles or something. Why just any-old-body gets to have his own film like this is a mystery, but the bigger mystery is why anyone would want it to be known that this is his film. Except, I suspect, Lawrence Guterman was probably once Larry Guterman, that annoying kid who sat behind you in seventh-period biology and fancied himself the class clown but was in reality so obnoxious and so not funny that the teacher was actually more entertaining — that Larry Guterman certainly got off on being as in-your-face as possible.

And that Larry Guterman seems not to have grown up at all. If a movie could have ADD, Son of the Mask would be it — it’s either on a sugar high, running all around the place making you nauseated with bizarre camera angles, like up people’s noses and crotches, which is simply gross, or comatose, attempting “drama” about the difficulties of maintaining a career while raising a child that would make you cringe in sympathetic embarrassment for the movie if this stuff hadn’t already put you into a deep sleep. The best thing that can be said about Son of the Mask is that its dizzying, although not in a good way.

Oh, and when they say “Son of the Mask,” they ain’t kidding. I mean, Ewwww. Failed animator Tim Avery (Kennedy: Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) — why screenwriter Lance Khazei didn’t just go all the way and call him Tex is a mystery to me — is wearing that crazy Loki mask when he impregnates his wife, Tonya Harding (not really, but man does actress Traylor Howard look like her, and the character’s name is Tonya, too), who is so desperate for a baby that she fails to notice that her husband has a green face and plastic hair. See? Ewww. The resulting demigod child can do all sorts of weird and creepy things babies were not meant to do, such as dance like Michigan J. Frog and abuse the adorable family pooch, who’s jealous of the new baby.

Oh, I know this is supposed to be some sort of amazing live action Looney Tune, but you know what? Some things that are okay in cartoons — like a violent, vicious feud between a baby and a dog — are disturbing and ugly when performed by a real baby and a real dog, even if they are almost CGI-ed beyond recognition.

And another thing: Can we have a moratorium on Ben Stein appearing in what is supposed to be an entertainment? He’s back as the drawling museum curator who unloads some unnecessary exposition on us and then disappears. If they’re trying to scare us with Nixon minions, why don’t they just cast Kissinger and be done with it? That’s the only thing that could have possibly made Son of the Mask any worse.


MPAA: rated PG for action, crude and suggestive humor and language

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb
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