Some movies just should not have kids.
“Son of the Mask” is the sorry little offspring of Jim Carrey’s 1994 hit “The Mask,” about a weenie who gains superpowers and a super ego when he stumbles on an ancient artifact.
Jamie Kennedy blunders along for the absent Carrey, and the filmmakers have toned down the action and purged whatever traces of adult mentality the original possessed to present the follow-up as a family-friendly flick.
Yet the antics are so dumb, they likely will annoy even young children, while parents will have one more addition to the list of sacrifices made for their youngsters that they can hurl back at the kids in old age.
Impressive visual effects are the movie’s only accomplishment, though the disagreeable design on many of the images undermine their technical pizzazz.
Kennedy plays Tim Avery, a wannabe cartoonist wallowing on the lowest rungs of the animation company where he works. An insipid introduction to Tim and wife Tonya (Traylor Howard) establishes her as a woman dying to get pregnant and him as a hopeless man-child terrified at the thought of parenthood.
Stuck for a costume to wear to his office Halloween party, Tim shows up behind the ancient mask from the original movie, which his dog has salvaged from the river.
The mask transforms Tim into the life of the party as he swirls through the crowd with Looney Tunes abandon. But Kennedy is no Jim Carrey, whose expressions and inflections were a natural fit for the shape-shifting character.
Kennedy comes off as a poor man’s Seth Green, which should give you some notion of how forgettable he is.
He lumbers through a painfully protracted rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” Unlike Carrey’s rubbery adaptability, Kennedy’s countenance resembles a lime-green Jell-O mold of Gary Busey’s face frozen by Botox injections.
Afterward, Tim stumbles home in a randy mood. Nine months later, baby Alvey is born possessing the mask’s powers, which he uses to create endless mischief for Tim just as he’s struggling to create a cartoon about the Mask character for his boss (Steven Wright).
Jealous of the baby, Tim’s dog slips on the mask and engages in a series of Wile E. Coyote-like forays against the infant.
Meantime, the mask’s creator, the Norse god Loki (Alan Cumming), has been ordered by his father, Odin (Bob Hoskins), to find both the mask and the baby it has sired. Did either of these fine actors need work so badly to sign on for this frenzied mess?
“Son of the Mask” amounts to an increasingly loud and torturous series of visual-effects duels, familiar territory for director Lawrence Guterman, who made 2001’s “Cats & Dogs,” another family movie shallowly built around us-against-them mayhem.
A couple of the gross-out sight gags are so crude they’ll provoke groans of disgust — without a titter of laughter — from young children the jokes are aimed at.
The movie strives for a positive message about growing up and embracing the joys of fatherhood, but when the baby’s this ugly, you’re left wishing the filmmakers had practiced a little cinematic celibacy.