Squarely targeted at the movie-going demographic that finds culinary ecstasy in Froot Loops-and-Jolt Cola pick-me-ups, marathon PlayStation weekends, and CGI-everything, this semisequel to 1994’s surprise breakout Jim Carrey vehicle retains absolutely none of its predecessor’s manic charm, and instead relies almost entirely on a ceaseless barrage of everything-and
-the-kitchen-sink humor. While it tries mightily to parrot the classic animated worlds of Tex Avery and Chuck Jones, it nonetheless falls flatter than Avery’s libidinous Wolf post-steamroller on all counts. As Tim Avery, a budding cartoonist stuck in a dead-end advertising gig, Kennedy gets involved with the titular cursed mask after his dog drags it home and transforms into the wildly annoying, hyper-canine version of what looks like an outtake from John Carpenter’s The Thing
, minus the grue. Not to be outdone, Tim soon ends up with the hideous wooden thing on his own puss, which results in a newfound skill at his job and a nightmarish romantic evening with wife Tonya (Howard) that nets – wait for it! – a mask-borne offspring. Christened Alvey (Liam and Ryan Falconer), the pint-sized hellion takes his cues from Cartoon Network and, in particular, Chuck Jones’ far-superior short "One Froggy Evening." Did I mention Norse gods Odin (Hoskins) and Loki (Cumming, still apparently on his Spy Kids
Fegan Floop-high) are also along for the ride and out to get their missing mask back? It’s somehow comforting to know that kids will come out of this film with a very, very rudimentary understanding of Norse mythology, but something tells me that’s not what they’ll recall in the long run. Director Guterman shoots every jittery sequence as though on a sugar-bender, with editing to match. If the film’s nonstop CGI effects were anything other than just plain bad, this might be salvageable, but as it is the film can’t hold a candle to Joe Dante’s hellion kiddie effects in his "It’s a Good Life" segment in 1983’s Twilight Zone: The Movie
, itself uneven but vastly more entertaining than anything seen here (with the possible exception of the spiky-haired Alan Cumming, who is always a welcome addition to any film involving characters sporting Mr. Sardonicus
smiles). But for anyone who assumed Kennedy’s experiment couldn’t sink any lower than Malibu’s Most Wanted
, there are, it appears, ever deeper depths in the realm of comedic misfires.