Stanley Ipkiss, a clerk at Edge City bank, is a shy luckless romantic fop who is regularly bullied by nearly everyone around him: his boss, landlady, car mechanics, and even supermarket check-out girls; his only friends are a cocky but good-natured co-worker named Charlie and his small but heroic dog Milo. Dorian Tyrell, the local gangster, runs the exclusive Coco Bongo nightclub, while plotting to overthrow his boss Niko. Tyrell sends his girlfriend Tina Carlyle into Stanley's bank with a hidden camera, in preparation to rob the establishment.
When Tina walks into the bank, Stanley and Charlie cannot help but to stare at her revealing dress and voluptuous figure. Tina sits at Stanley's desk, where he tries to act cool in front of his new stunning client, but ends up making himself look like a fool. Tina expresses interest in his tie, and pulls it toward her, making it look like she and Stanley are about to kiss, but this is the only good thing to happen during this particularly miserable day; after being kicked out of the Coco Bongo, Stanley gets stranded with a broken-down loan car at the city's filthy harbor, where he finds a mysterious wooden mask. When he takes the object home and puts it on, it wraps itself around his head, and personifies the repressed side of his personality: a wackily-suited green-headed exuberant wild man, "The Mask", who cheerfully exacts revenge on some of Stanley's tormentors, along with turning the tables on an unfortunate street gang that attempts to terrorize him.
The next morning Stanley has a run-in with world-weary Edge City detective Lieutenant Kellaway and hustling newspaper reporter Peggy Brandt, both of whom are investigating The Mask's activities of the previous night. Despite these threats, the temptation to again use the mask is overwhelming and he puts it back on that evening. Needing money to attend Tina's performance at the Coco Bongo, the Mask noisily interrupts Tyrell's bank robbery and steals the cash while one of Tyrell's henchmen is shot by police responding to the disturbance. The Mask buys entry into the Coco Bongo, where he "rocks the joint", dancing exuberantly with Tina in front of the cheering clientèle and kisses her before being confronted by Tyrell. The Mask bounces away, while Tyrell is temporarily arrested for the bank robbery by Kellaway, who also finds a piece of Stanley's distinctive pajamas at the club.
Stanley consults an expert on masks, who tells him that the object is a depiction of Loki, the Norse god of darkness and mischief (and thus works only at night). Despite this, and with both Tyrell and Kellaway hunting down his trail, a more confident Stanley stands up to his boss and arranges for Tina to meet his friend, The Mask, at the local Landfill Park. The meeting goes badly, with The Mask's overly-forward advances scaring Tina away, and Kellaway arresting him. The Mask toys with the enraged officer (leading them to discover, amongst other miscellaneous objects, a picture of Kellaway's wife in lingerie in his pocket) before zooming out of the park and enchanting a large group of the Edge City police force into joining him in a mass-performance production of the song Cuban Pete. With the cops closing in, Stanley manages to get the mask off and Peggy helps him escape, but then betrays him to Tyrell for a mob bounty. Tyrell tries on the mask and becomes a demonic troll-figure. Stanley is dumped in Kellaway's lap with a cheap green imitation mask and is thrown into jail.
Tina sympathetically visits Stanley in his cell, where he urges her to flee the city. She attempts to do so, but is captured by Tyrell and dragged along on his raid on a charity ball at the Coco Bongo, hosted by Niko and attended by the city's elite. The masked Tyrell kills Niko and prepares to blow up both the club and Tina. Meanwhile, Milo helps Stanley break out of his cell and they go to the club. After brief initial success with the assistance of Charlie, Stanley is captured. Tina tricks Tyrell into taking off the mask, which gets kicked into the air and caught by Milo. Milo sticks his head into the artifact, and he assists Stanley in beating down Tyrell's men. Stanley retrieves the mask and wears it one last time, swallowing the bomb and literally flushing Tyrell down the drain of the club's ornamental fountain like he is in a toilet. The city's mayor, witnessing most of this, mistakenly deduces that Tyrell was The Mask all along, and forces Kellaway to release Stanley.
As the sun rises, Stanley, Tina, Milo and Charlie take the mask back down to the harbor, where Tina takes the object out of Stanley's hands and tosses it across the shoulder into the water. While Tina and Stanley are very busy with kissing, Charlie jumps into the water to get the mask which swam on the surface, but Milo was quicker.
The main protagonist of the film, Jim Carrey, who portrays Stanley Ipkiss, commented that he characterized Stanley after his own father, "a nice guy, just trying to get by". Stanley is a seemingly unlucky banker who, on a particular messy day finds a mysterious wooden mask. When Ipkiss puts on the Mask, he becomes a wacky, zoot-suited, suave man. Ipkiss falls in love with Tina Carlyle, the dancer and singer at the Coco Bongo and girlfriend of local mobster Dorian Tyrell. Ipkiss is later betrayed by his associate Peggy Brandt, who sells him out to Dorian and his men in return for money. Ipkiss is arrested by police detectives Lt. Mitch Kellaway and his partner Doyle. He manages to break free with the help of his dog and sidekick, Milo, along with a reluctant Kellaway at gunpoint. Ipkiss sets out to rescue Tina and many other lives from Tyrell (as the Mask) who was plotting to overthrow his boss, Niko. Ipkiss sneaks into the casino, only to be captured by Tyrell's henchman, Orlando. Tina tricks Dorian into removing the Mask, kicking it into the air, where it caught by Milo. Stanley and Dorian fight, until Ipkiss gains the strength and courage, knocking out Tyrell. Ipkiss scares away Tyrell's men (as the Mask) and swallows the bomb. He then proceeds to flush Dorian down the drain using a magical paintbrush. Stanley, his close friend Charlie, Tina and Milo throw the Mask into the river.
The main antagonist of the film, Dorian is suppressed in the ranks of local Mafia kingpin, Niko. Dorian sends his moll, Tina Carlyle into the bank to help him plan a robbery in order for him to overthrow Niko. Meanwhile Niko harasses him over his poor running of the Coco Bongo club and gives him a week to flee Edge City. Dorian places a bounty on The Mask (Stanley Ipkiss) due to the death of his close friend and henchman, Freeze. He steals the mask, which turns him into a demonic figure who barges into the charity ball at the club, kills Niko and his bodyguards and smashes open the charity collection. Ipkiss manages to sneak into the club; he fights with Dorian, manages to retrieve the mask and literally flushes Dorian down the drain.
Played by Cameron Diaz, the girlfriend of mobster Dorian Tyrell, who remains a love-interest and ally to Stanley Ipkiss throughout the film. Tina is unhappy as the moll of Tyrell, and believes herself to be a "party-favor" to him. Tina is sent into Stanley's bank with surveillance so Dorian and his crew can plot to overthrow mafia chieftain Niko. Tina begins to fall in love with Ipkiss, who is also smitten with her. Tina is also present when Ipkiss is thrown out of the club by one of Tyrell's bodyguards and Bobby the Bouncer. Tina is dancing at the Coco Bongo Club, serving as a singer and dancer when Ipkiss, having become the Mask dances with her. The Mask then kisses Tina, causing both her dancing shoes fly off her feet. She is then forced out of the club by Dorian along with the club's patrons, due to the death of Tyrell's trusted henchman Freeze. Tina meets Ipkiss at the bank and the park. When Ipkiss (as the Mask) makes too many advances she runs off, but later visits him in jail, after he was betrayed by Peggy Brandt and Tyrell placed a bounty on Ipkiss/the Mask, allowing him to get a hold of the mask. Tina informs Ipkiss of Tyrell's plan to rob the casino, kill Niko, and take over Edge. She is chased by Tyrell and his men into an alley, where she is forced to accompany Dorian to the charity ball, where she along with many other innocents will be killed. Ipkiss is aided by Lieutanant Kellaway to the Coco Bongo and his sidekick Milo the Dog. Stanley attempts to sneak closer to Tyrell but is captured by Orlando. Tina tricks Dorian into removing the mask, kicking it into the air, in which Milo succeeds in catching it. Ipkiss and Dorian engage in a physical confrontation, until Ipkiss knocks him out. Ipkiss wears the mask and saves the day by swallowing the bomb, and safely containing the blast. As Dorian attempts to kill from behind with a penknife, Stanley (The Mask) flushes him down the casino's pool. Stanley and Tina, along with Stanley's best friend Charlie, and Milo throw the Mask into the river and they kiss.
The mafia boss of Edge City and owner of the Coco Bongo Club, Niko has been targeted by Lieutenant Kellaway for a long time, and is now targeted by his former employee Dorian Tyrell. When Niko and his men find out Tyrell's plans, they assault him and gives him one week to flee Edge City. Dorian continues his plot, and wearing the mask, kills Niko at The Coco Bongo Club.
The movie was a total box-office success, grossing $119 million domestically and over $350 million worldwide. Critics also approved of the movie, including Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times which gave the film 3 stars, noting Jim Carrey for his "joyful performance". 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 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. It currently holds a 75% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Stanley decorates his apartment with items featuring characters from Looney Tunes cartoons, and when he turns into The Mask, he tends to imitate said characters: Bugs Bunny (dying in the arms of the mobster, kissing someone in the lips, fooling people, and cracking jokes), Daffy Duck (bouncing and yelling uncontrollably), the Road Runner (the jabbering The Mask does after saying a joke and before fleeing from the scene at super-speed sounds pretty much like the "beep, beep" produced by the Road Runner), Pepe le Pew (the scene where he romances Tina), and Taz (spinning in a tornado). His reaction to Tina's singing in the Coco Bongo is the same as the character of the wolf in the cartoon Red Hot Riding Hood, which Stanley is seen watching earlier on. Many of the imitations come from those shorts directed by Tex Avery.
When "shot" at the first scene inside the Coco Bongo, The Mask's consequent "dying" dialogue references several classic literary moments.
The song "Cuban Pete" was originally performed by Desi Arnaz in the 1946 movie of the same name. It was later also performed by Arnaz and Lucille Ball on an episode of the classic 1950s television show I Love Lucy.
While being arrested in the park, The Mask's joking claim that "it was the one-armed man" is a reference to the villain in the TV series (and later movie) The Fugitive.
The laugh performed by "The Mask" towards the end of the movie (after revealing his guns were loaded with nothing more than signs reading "Bang!"), is reminiscent of Carrey's Fire Marshal Bill character from In Living Color. In the same scene, "The Mask" performs a famous line by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry by saying "Now, you got to ask yourself one question. 'Do I feel lucky?' Well do ya, punks?". Carrey routinely performed impressions of Eastwood in his stand-up comedy routines and appeared in bit parts in Eastwood-headlined flicks Pink Cadillac and The Dead Pool, the latter of which was a Dirty Harry film. Carrey would also impersonate Eastwood momentarily in the film Bruce Almighty.
The Mask: Music From The Motion Picture