Classic Cartoons, Norse Gods and Familial Obligations; Lance Khazei On "Son of the Mask"

Fri, January 21st, 2005 at 12:00am PST

TV/Film
Dave Richards, Staff Writer

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It was almost eleven years ago when motion picture "The Mask" hit theaters. Based on the Dark Horse Comic of the same name, the film starred manic comic sensation Jim Carrey and a then unknown Cameron Diaz. "The Mask" was a blockbuster. This February, a sequel entitled "Son of the Mask" finally hits theaters and it will be very different from the first film. None of the original cast is back and the sequel is a family film. CBR News spoke with "Son of The Mask" writer Lance Khazei via e-mail about the film.

Khazei said "Son of the Mask" has very few elements of the first "Mask" film. "It didn't make sense to me to do a traditional sequel to 'The Mask' or a similar story without Jim Carrey, so I pitched New Line a wholesale reinvention of the franchise," Khazei explained to CBR News. "New story, new characters and new universe, but the same Mask and an expansion on one of the stand out elements of the 1994 film -- the golden era cartoon aesthetic rendered in live action."

In this film the Mask makes a new father's (played by Jamie Kennedy) life even more complicated. "In 'Son of the Mask' Tim Avery is a struggling cartoonist who isn't ready to have a kid," Khazei said. "You will also see how a dog who resents the arrival of a baby in the family reacts. Totally insane dysfunction and in the best traditions of Wyle E. Coyote. And Loki has come back to retrieve his Mask at the behest of his overbearing dad, Odin. Family dysfunction there, too. Even amongst the gods. We all have issues."

Khazei's story uses screwball comedy to examine familial relationships. "I wanted to write a story about balancing the demands of career with family, especially when facing the uncertainty of a career in the arts," the writer said. "The dominant theme of 'Son of the Mask' is if you neglect your obligation to family you will pay the price, and that theme works its way through all three story lines -- Tim and his baby, the baby and the dog, and Loki and Odin."

Khazei has seen the finished film and praised the work of the film's stars and director. "Seeing Jamie Kennedy slowly go mad is very funny," Khazei said. "If you enjoyed Kennedy freaking out in 'Scream,' you will really dig this performance. Alan Cumming and Bob Hoskins as Loki and Odin are quite amusing. I tried to write a script with a classic cartoon image

Khazei on the set of "Son of the Mask" with the car featured in the film.
system, which reinforces the story line and insane comedic sensibility. And Larry Guterman, the director, delivered and expanded on that approach, creating something interesting to the eye in virtually every scene. You rarely see a family film with such a rich cinematic approach. Guterman nailed it."

A life long comic fan, Khazei has read the original "Mask" comics from Dark Horse and loved them. "I would count 'The Mask' among my favorites," said Khazei. " 'Eightball' by Daniel Clowes is my favorite underground comic. Growing up, I was into Batman and Superman, in particular the issue which features a half Batman, half Superman guy."

Khazei knows that "Son of the Mask" might not appeal to fans looking for a literal translation of "The Mask" comics, but promises that the film is fun and entertaining. "It's the Mask and its effects interpreted for a family comedy," he explained. "If your head will explode unless you get to see a horror movie version and the bloody mess you've come to know and love in the comic book, then this movie isn't for you. But if you are also a fan of the basic device, fantasy elements, visual inventiveness and insane comedy then you'll enjoy Son of the Mask. Satisfaction guaranteed or I will personally reimburse you the price of admission plus one standard issue bar of gold. Okay, I won't really do that. But Guterman will."

 
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