The Mask (1994 film)

The Mask is a 1994 American superhero comedy film directed by Charles Russell, produced by Bob Engelman, and written by Mike Werb, loosely based on the comic series of the same name published by Dark Horse Comics. The film stars Jim Carrey, Peter Riegert, Peter Greene, Amy Yasbeck, Richard Jeni, and Cameron Diaz in her film debut. It revolves around Stanley Ipkiss (Carrey), an unfortunate bank clerk who finds a magical mask that transforms him into a mischievous zoot-suited gangster.

The Mask
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChuck Russell
Produced byBob Engelman
Screenplay byMike Werb
Story byMichael Fallon
Mark Verheiden
Based on
Music byRandy Edelman
CinematographyJohn R. Leonetti
Edited byArthur Coburn
Distributed byNew Line Cinema
Release date
  • July 29, 1994 (1994-07-29)
Running time
101 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$23 million[2]
Box office$351.6 million[2]

The film was released on July 29, 1994, by New Line Cinema, becoming a critical and commercial success. The film grossed over $351 million on a $23 million budget, which made it the most profitable comic book movie (in regard to budget vs. global gross) for 25 years, until Joker surpassed it in 2019. It cemented Carrey's reputation as a dominant actor of the 1990s, and established Diaz long-term as a leading lady. Carrey was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role, and the film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects but lost to Forrest Gump. A critically panned stand-alone sequel, Son of the Mask, released in 2005.


Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey), an insecure bank clerk working at the local Edge City bank, is frequently ridiculed by everyone around him except for his co-worker and best friend Charlie Schumaker (Richard Jeni). Meanwhile, gangster Dorian Tyrell (Peter Greene), owner of the Coco Bongo nightclub, plots to overthrow his boss Niko (Orestes Matacena). One day, Tyrell sends his dazzling singer girlfriend Tina Carlyle (Cameron Diaz) into Stanley's bank to record its layout, in preparation for a robbery.

Stanley is attracted to Tina, and she seems to reciprocate. Unable to enter the Coco Bongo to watch Tina perform, Stanley finds a wooden mask near the city's harbor. Placing it on his face transforms him into a green-faced, zoot-suited trickster known as "The Mask", who is able to cartoonishly alter himself and his surroundings at will. As The Mask, Stanley indulges in a comical rampage through the city, humiliating several of his tormentors.

The next morning, Stanley encounters detective Mitch Kellaway (Peter Riegert) and newspaper reporter Peggy Brandt (Amy Yasbeck), both of whom are investigating The Mask's activity of the previous night. To obtain the funds necessary to attend Tina's performance, he again dons the mask and raids the bank, inadvertently foiling Tyrell's plan in the process. At the Coco Bongo, Stanley dances exuberantly with Tina, whom he ends up kissing. Following a confrontation with Tyrell for disrupting the robbery and stealing his girlfriend, Stanley flees, leaving behind a scrap of cloth from his suit. Tyrell and his men are arrested by Kellaway and his partner Doyle (Jim Doughan).

Based on the piece of cloth – which has reverted to a piece of Stanley's distinctive pyjamas – Kellaway suspects Stanley to be the bank robber. Stanley later consults a psychiatrist (Ben Stein) who has recently published a book on masks and discovers that the object may be a creation of Loki, the Norse god of darkness, and mischief. The same night, Stanley meets Tina at a local park as the Mask, but the meeting is interrupted by Kellaway, who attempts to capture him. Stanley flees with Peggy after distracting the police with a mass performance of the Desi Arnaz song "Cuban Pete"; she then betrays him to Tyrell for a $50,000 bounty. Using the mask, Tyrell becomes a malevolent green-faced monster. Tyrell's henchmen force Stanley to reveal the location of the stolen money, before turning him in to the police.

When Tina visits Stanley in the station, he urges her to flee the city. Tina thanks Stanley for showing her kindness and warmth she wasn't used to and tells him he didn't need the mask to be special to her. She attempts to leave the city, but is captured by Tyrell's men and forcibly taken to a charity ball at the Coco Bongo, hosted by Niko and attended by the city's elite, including Mayor Tilton (Ivory Ocean). Upon arrival, the masked Tyrell kills Niko and prepares to destroy both the club and Tina with dynamite. Milo, Stanley's dog, helps Stanley escape from the station by retrieving the keys from a guard. Stanley then takes Kellaway hostage in a desperate attempt to stop Tyrell.

After locking Kellaway in his car, Stanley enters the club and manages to enlist the help of Charlie, but is soon after discovered and captured. Tina tricks Tyrell into taking off the mask, which is recovered and donned by Milo. Milo battles his way through Tyrell's men as Stanley fights Tyrell alone. After recovering the mask, Stanley uses its powers to rescue Tina, swallowing Tyrell's bomb and flushing Tyrell down the drain of the club's ornamental fountain. The police arrive and arrest Tyrell's remaining henchmen. Kellaway attempts to arrest Stanley once again, but Tilton tells Kellaway to release Stanley, believing Tyrell to be the original Mask. Tilton calls Stanley a hero for his actions and states that he will have a "meeting" with Kellaway at dawn.

As the sun rises the following day, all charges against Stanley are dropped. Not wanting to get involved with the police again, Stanley decides to discard the mask at the harbor. Tina throws the mask into the water as she and Stanley start to make out. Charlie then jumps in the water to retrieve the mask for himself, only to find Milo swimming away with it.


  • Jim Carrey as Stanley Ipkiss / The Mask: Carrey commented that he characterized Stanley after his own father: "a nice guy, just trying to get by". When Ipkiss puts on the Mask, he becomes a wacky, zoot-suited, suave cartoon figure having the ability to manipulate his own shape and the world around him to a superhuman extent; this is implied to be the projection onto himself of his preferred fantasies.
  • Peter Greene as Dorian Tyrell: A Mafia officer who desires to kill his superior. He is completely insane, psychopathic, manipulative, ambitious, arrogant, paranoid and selfish with scant regard for any of the lives destroyed or simply taken as a result of his media ambition. When Dorian wears the Mask, he becomes a troll-like figure representing his malice, and exhibits bestial behavior.
  • Cameron Diaz as Tina Carlyle: The glamorous girlfriend of mobster Dorian Tyrell; but also very attracted to Stanley Ipkiss and later becomes his love interest. Tina is largely dissatisfied with Dorian as a partner, but does not defy him until she has been courted by his rival. This role marked the feature film debut for former model Cameron Diaz. Before Diaz was cast, the studio considered casting Vanessa L. Williams and Kristy Swanson. There was also a studio offer for Caprice Bourret and Anna Nicole Smith.
  • Orestes Matacena as Niko: The mafia boss of Edge City and owner of the Coco Bongo Club.
  • Peter Riegert as Lt. Mitch Kellaway: A slightly cynical police detective lieutenant who pursues the Mask, Dorian and Niko throughout the film.
  • Jim Doughan as Detective Doyle: Lt. Kellaway's slightly-inept partner.
  • Richard Jeni as Charlie Schumaker: A friend of Stanley Ipkiss. Charlie is amiable, but can be selfish or irrational at times.
  • Amy Yasbeck as Peggy Brandt: A reporter. Originally, the character was murdered by Dorian when he is first transformed by the Mask. Director Chuck Russell however, cut this scene with an eye to including Peggy who later reforms in a Mask sequel (though this idea fell through when Carrey declined to return). However, she appeared in the animated series.
  • Jeremy Roberts as Bobby the Bouncer: One of Dorian Tyrell's bodyguards who works as the bouncer of the Coco Bongo Club.
  • Ben Stein as Dr. Arthur Neuman: A psychologist who tells Ipkiss about the Mask being representative of a Norse Night God named Loki. He's also the author of a book, The Masks We Wear, which deals with people portraying themselves differently to others.
  • Ivory Ocean as Mitchell Tilton: The Mayor of Edge City.
  • Reginald E. Cathey as Freeze: Dorian Tyrell's bodyguard and a friend.
  • William Daniel Mielcarek as Doc: One of Tyrell's thugs.
  • Denis Forest as Sweet Eddy: One of Tyrell's thugs.
  • Eamonn Roche as Mr. Dickey: Stanley and Charlie's supervisor at Edge City Bank.
  • Nancy Fish as Mrs. Peenman: Stanley's temperamental land-lady.
  • Nils Allen Stewart as Orlando: One of Tyrell's thugs.
  • Blake Clark as Murray: Peggy's supervisor at the city's local newspaper.



In 1989, Mike Richardson and Todd Moyer, who was Executive Vice President of Dark Horse Comics, first approached New Line Cinema about adapting the comic The Mask into a film, after having seen other offers. The main character went through several transformations, and the project was stalled a couple of times.[3]

One unused "Mask" idea, according to Mike Richardson, was to transform the story into one about a mask-maker who took faces off of corpses to put them on teens and turn them into zombies.[4]

Initially intended to become a new horror franchise, New Line Cinema offered the job of directing the film to Chuck Russell.[5] However, Russell found the violence of the comic to be off-putting, and wanted the film be less grim and more fun than the source material.[6]


Mike Werb says Chuck Russell tapped him after reading his script for Curious George for Imagine. The two decided to turn The Mask into a wild romantic comedy.[7] Mike Werb wrote his first draft of The Mask in less than six weeks, and less than two months later it was green-lit.[8]

According to Mike Verheiden, they had a first draft screenplay for a film version done back in 1990. Verheiden then wrote the second draft in early 1991, adding more humor, and that ended up being the only work he did on The Mask. After that the film went into development hell.[9]

Visual effects

The Mask's visual effects were handled by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and Dream Quest Images. The sequences in the film which involved computer animation were supervised by ILM animation director Wes Takahashi.[10] There were a lot of VFX scenes that had to be cut for budget.[8]


Box office

The film was a box-office success, grossing $119 million domestically and over $350 million worldwide,[2] becoming the second-highest grossing superhero movie at that time, behind Batman. In terms of global gross compared to budget, the film became the most profitable comic book movie of all time and would remain so until 2019, when Joker surpassed it.[11] The film also received positive reviews from critics, including Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, who gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, noting Jim Carrey for his "joyful performance."[12] The Mask is one of three films featuring Carrey (the others being Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Dumb and Dumber) released in 1994 that helped launch the actor to superstardom; The Mask was the most successful of these three films both critically and commercially. The film is also notable for immediately establishing Diaz – previously a complete unknown – as a major star in Hollywood as well.

Critical reception

It currently holds a 77% "Certified Fresh" rating (with an average rating of 6.4/10) on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus stating "It misses perhaps as often as it hits, but Carrey's manic bombast, Diaz's blowsy appeal, and the film's overall cartoony bombast keep The Mask afloat."[13] On the television program Siskel & Ebert & the Movies, the critics gave the film "two thumbs up". Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from film critics, gave The Mask a rating score of 56, indicating "mixed or average reviews" based on 12 reviews.

The film was nominated for Best Visual Effects at the 67th Academy Awards, but lost to Forrest Gump. In addition, Carrey was nominated for a Golden Globe. Conversely, he was also nominated for a Razzie Award for "Worst New Star".



The Mask: Music From the Motion Picture was released on July 26, 1994 on Chaos Records through Sony Music Entertainment. It features music from Xscape, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Vanessa Williams, Harry Connick Jr., Carrey himself and more. The songs "Cuban Pete" and "Hey Pachuco" were also used for the trailer of the 1997 Disney film Flubber.

The Mask: Music from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedJuly 26, 1994 (1994-07-26)
GenreSwing, retro swing, pop rock, R&B, new jack swing

Track listing

  1. "Cuban Pete" (C & C Pop Radio Edit) – Jim Carrey
  2. "Who's That Man?" – Xscape
  3. "This Business of Love" – Domino
  4. "Bounce Around" – Tony! Toni! Toné!
  5. "(I Could Only) Whisper Your Name" – Harry Connick Jr.
  6. "You Would Be My Baby" – Vanessa Williams
  7. "Hi De Ho" – K7
  8. "Let the Good Times Roll" – Fishbone
  9. "Straight Up" – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
  10. "Hey! Pachuco!" – Royal Crown Revue
  11. "Gee, Baby, Ain't I Good to You" – Susan Boyd
  12. "Cuban Pete" (Arkin Movie Mix) – Jim Carrey

The record labels TriStar Music and Epic Soundtrax released an orchestral score soundtrack to The Mask shortly after the original soundtrack's release. The score was composed and conducted by Randy Edelman and performed by the Irish Film Orchestra.

Orchestral score track listing

  1. Opening – The Origin of the Mask
  2. Tina
  3. Carnival
  4. Transformation
  5. Tango In The Park
  6. Lovebirds
  7. Out of the Line of Fire
  8. A Dark Night
  9. The Man Behind the Mask
  10. Dorian Gets a New Face
  11. Looking for a Way Out
  12. The Search
  13. Forked Tongue
  14. Milo to the Rescue
  15. The Mask Is Back
  16. Finale


Chart Position
Billboard 200 80

Home media

The film was released on VHS and Laserdisc on January 18, 1995, (and later on DVD) by New Line Home Video. The VHS version included the Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode "The Mask", which featured interviews with Jim Carrey and Chuck Russell. It was later released on Blu-ray Disc on December 9, 2008.[14]

Other media

Animated series

An animated television series was made, The Mask: Animated Series.

Video game

A video game for the Super Nintendo, The Mask, were both based on the film.


After the success of the original, a sequel film was planned, with magazine Nintendo Power offering readers a chance, via sweepstakes, to win a cameo role in the film.[15] However Jim Carrey eventually bailed on the project, forcing, amongst other things, Nintendo Power to give the winner of the contest the equivalent cash value instead.[16] A standalone sequel, Son of the Mask, featuring neither Carrey nor Diaz, was eventually released in 2005, but it was a critical and commercial failure upon release.

On the possibility of a third film, Mike Richardson has said, "We've been talking about reviving The Mask, both in film and in comics. We've had a couple of false starts."[17]


  1. "The Mask". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  2. "The Mask (1994)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  3. Brennan, Judy (July 31, 1994). "'Mask' Makes Dark Horse Into Sure Bet for Spinoffs : The booming comic-book publisher gets a multi-picture deal before the Jim Carrey film even opens". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  4. Ching, Albert (20 October 2013). "NYCC: Palmiotti, Richie & Richardson Talk Comics and Hollywood". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  5. THN Exclusive: Chuck Russell talks I Am Wrath, The Mask and Freddy Krueger Retrieved September 9, 2017.
  6. Shapiro, Marc (August 1994). "Mask Maker". Starlog. No. 205. pp. 32–35. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  7. 'MASK' MASTERMIND: But Aren't All Screenwriters Former Teen-Age Geek Losers? Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  8. An Interview with Face/Off Screenwriter Mike Werb Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  9. Jankiewicz, Pat (September 1994). "Masks of Time". Starlog. No. 206. pp. 40–45. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  10. "Subject: Wes Ford Takahashi". Animators' Hall of Fame. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  11. "Joker is the most profitable comic book movie of all time". Consequence of Sound. 2019-11-09. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  12. Ebert, Roger (July 29, 1994). "The Mask". Retrieved 2006-08-01.
  13. "The Mask (1994)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  14. Dreuth, Josh (2008-12-09). "Today on Blu-ray – December 9". Retrieved 2009-01-03.
  15. "Player's Poll Contest". Nintendo Power (77): 82–83. October 1995.
  16. Ponce, Tony. "Meet the winner of Nintendo Power's The Mask II contest". Destructoid. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  17. Sunu, Steve (7 August 2014). "EXCLUSIVE: Richardson Details Dark Horse's "Itty Bitty Mask" Plans". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
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