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The Mask succeeds with comic book formula, Carrey

THE MASK

Directed by Charles Russell.

Written by Mike Webb, based on a story by Michael Fallon and Mark Verheiden.

Starring Jim Carrey, Peter Riegert, Peter Greene, Amy Yasbeck, and Cameron Diaz.

Loews Cheri.

By Evelyn Kao

The movie industry, in its continual attempt to make money, sticks to certain formulas: The Mask is no exception to this rule. Following other summer movies like The Crow and The Shadow, The Mask brings a comic-book character, created by Mike Richardson, to life. It is also a vehicle for actor Jim Carrey (whose phenomenal success after Ace Ventura: Pet Detective continues to amaze), as it exploits his ability for weird facial expressions and his unabashed way of doing things that makes you almost embarrassed for him.

In The Mask, Carrey is Stanley Ipkiss, a mild-mannered nice guy prone to being stepped on and manipulated by more forceful, "meaner" characters. He works in a bank and lives with his dog, Milo. As the ads say, the most interesting thing about him are his pajamas. But through a series of misadventures, Ipkiss stumbles upon a mask that transforms him into "The Mask" - an invincible manifestation of an ancient Norse god of mischief - a hero having the personality of an Ipkiss, but without any inhibitions.

From the moment when he first puts on the mask, the "real" Jim Carrey appears, whirling like a tornado to finally make his grand appearance as a green faced creature in a loud yellow suit. What more fitting character could there have been for Jim Carrey? With it, Carrey is allowed to exploit his talent, and with exuberant inhibition he flings himself from emulating Bugs Bunny to Dirty Harry. The Mask is a comic book creation, and Carrey's exaggerated facial movements and gesticulations are perfect for the role.

Industrial Light and Magic does wonderful things with the special effects; The Mask actually zips across the screen, its eyes pop out in shock, its heart visibly beats, straining from his chest when in lust. This, combined with Jim Carrey's energy makes for a magical, convincing performance as a cartoon-like superbeing.

Don't expect too much characterization or plot development outside of a standard comic-book formula. Ipkiss has many adventures, involving love interests (played by Cameron Diaz and Amy Yasbeck) and the main villain Dorian (Peter Greene), a small-time gangster who has his own plans for the mask. And of course, all hell breaks loose when the mask falls into the wrong hands.

Unfortunately, much of the surprise is absent since some of the best parts of the movie have already been revealed in previews and commercials. Nevertheless, fans of Carrey's zany persona will have a very enjoyable time.