Sunday 17 August 2014

Review: The Mask 2 - Son Of The Mask (#CrapSequels)

World of Blackout: CRAP SEQUEL SEASON!

flms. srs bsns. We've all been there; Browsing in Blockbuster, the HMV sale or the bargain-DVD section in Sainsbury's, and we come across a plastic case which gives us an involuntary tingle of excitement. Someone's made a sequel to that movie we like! How did this slip under our radar? Why wasn't this on at our local cinema? Why are we only hearing about this now? Well, there's only one way to answer that question; it involves spending the requisite £3 and usually ends with the question 'Why did this get made, never mind how?'.

The rules for selection are as follows: 1) The film needs to be a poorly received sequel to a generally successful film (so no crap sequels to crap originals, and no crap remakes of originals), 2) Films from longer series are fine, but the choice needs to be part two of that line, 3) I'm not intending to watch any of the associated part-ones as part of this run (whether I'm familiar with them or not), so there'll be extra pressure on the crap sequel to work on its own terms. So join me as I delve into some of the crappest, most unwarranted follow-ups of all time (hopefully with a couple of underrated, misunderstood gems thrown in).

How bad can it be, right? I mean, the original was good…

CRAP SEQUELS! The Mask 2: Son Of The Mask.

#CrapSequels: The Mask 2: Son Of The Mask
Cert: PG / 91 mins / Dir. Lawrence Gutterman
Year: 2004 (10 years after the first movie)

The general feeling: RT Score: 6% / IMDB Score: 2.1

This film was released in the same year as Kill Bill Vol. 2. Think about that for a second. Riding the wave of the first outing's popularity, New Line Cinema rushed to fill the void a mere 10 years after the original with this madcap sequel, and there's definitely the thought that a little more 'draft-time' may have helped the final film. I reckon about 200-300 years would have been sufficient*1.

This is, allegedly, a continuation from 1994's gurn-fest, tracking The Mask as it falls into the hands of a new owner (who also co-incidentally owns a Jack Russell terrier, so those sections with Milo in the last film can just be regurgitated), and becomes the grand maguffin as Norse god of mischief Loki attempts to retrieve it to appease his irate father, Odin (played by Bob Hoskins, meaning that Super Mario Bros was not quite his worst film, after all). Throw a heavily CGI'd baby into the mix, and that's your movie, give or take some acute cringing.

Son Of The Mask's opening scene encapsulates the film perfectly, and has all of the comic-book insanity of its predecessor, but with none of the charm or nerve to carry it off (by which I mean, no Jim Carrey). Instead we get Alan Cumming embarrassing himself as Loki in a sort of Darth Maul / Wicked Witch Of The West incarnation (not for all of it, just occasionally), and Jamie 'Scream' Kennedy proving that audiences are much happier when he's running around trying not to be stabbed. Indeed, the film's shoehorning in of a musical number with a bastardised version of 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You' should be punishable as a war crime (No, I'm fucking serious. Watch it.. Watch. All. Of. It).

Kennedy has a hapless affability when he's playing Tim, a harassed and aspiring animator, but the scenes featuring him wearing the titular Mask are like something from an eight-year old's paint-fume induced nightmare. The film veers between being reminiscent of Scooby Doo: Monsters Unleashed*2 and a live-action cartoon in the vein of the 1930's Tex Avery classics (giving rise to the lead character being called 'Tim Avery'; yeah, that subtle). Except the last time I saw Jerry give Tom a thorough thrashing, I don't recall the editor then cutting to an ashamed looking middle-aged actor staring into the camera with pleading eyes.

The curious thing is, as detestable as this is, the production values are more or less on par with what went last time, and visually it's mostly acceptable, (with the exception of the weird looking CGI baby. Then again, whenever we see the non-CGI baby, he's pretty weird, too). What the film may have in aesthetics and ambition is held back by the cast, script and overall concept. And that's without going into the way the screenplay treats Traylor Howard as a cutsey, nagging, manipulative baby-making machine who's not happy unless she's reproducing; to criticise that would be to credit the writers with a malice which is greater than their ineptitude.

Oh, and it loses a point from its already low-score for the twee ukulele version of 'What A Wonderful World'. Bastards.

"This is the crappiest piece of crap in Craptown."

Jamie Kennedy ~ having summed up Son Of The Mask a mere 16 minutes into the running time (and around 12 minutes after the audience have).

Have you seen this before??
I haven't, no.

…but have you seen the original movie?
Loved the original to an inordinate level back in the day; still have a soft spot for it now.

Do I have to have seen the original movie?
It'd help, since the sequel half-arsedly explains what's going on in a way which will mean little to anyone who doesn't already know.

How many of the original film's stars returned?
Ben "Anyone..? Anyone..?" Stein returns as Doctor Neuman. THAT'S IT.
(although he was in the animated series as well, and I suspect he goes to conventions cosplaying as his character to this day.)

Worth expanding into threequel territory?
Fuck, no.

Rent it, stream it, or wait for it to be on TV?
People who complain about Jim Carrey being irritating should be made to buy this film and watch it repeatedly in its entirety, before they beg for mercy and retract their ill-considered opinions. For everyone else, avoid.

Ah, but is there a Wilhelm Scream?
I didn't hear one.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
I can't remember the last time I saw a PG movie with an animated impregnation-scene, can you?>

*1 HAHA, I AM HILARIOUS AND FUNNY and this is actually better than anything in the film so YOU shut up.
*2 And you can say what you like, but I actually rather enjoyed the Scooby Doo films. Compared to this they're like Citizen Kane.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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