The Mask is a 1994 American superhero fantasy comedy film directed by Charles Russell, produced by Bob Engelman, and written by Mike Werb, based on the comic series of the same name distributed by Dark Horse Comics. The film stars Jim Carrey, Peter Greene, Amy Yasbeck, Peter Riegert, Richard Jeni, Ben Stein, Joely Fisher, and Cameron Diaz in her film debut. It revolves around an unlucky bank clerk finding a mask that grants the wearer cartoon-like superpowers.
The film was released on July 29, 1994 by New Line Cinema, becoming a critical and commercial blockbuster, grossing over $351.6 million over a $23 million budget and receiving positive reviews. 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.
Stanley Ipkiss is a shy and unlucky bank clerk working at the local Edge City bank. He is frequently ridiculed by everyone around him, except for his Jack Russell Terrier Milo, and his co-worker and best friend Charlie Schumaker. Meanwhile, gangster Dorian Tyrell, owner of the Coco Bongo nightclub, plots to overthrow his boss Niko. One day, Tyrell sends his singer girlfriend Tina Carlyle into Stanley’s bank to record its layout, in preparation to rob the bank.
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, bizarre, wisecracking trickster known as the Mask, who is able to cartoonishly alter himself and his surroundings at will. Stanley exacts revenge on his tormentors and scares off a street gang that attempts to rob him by turning a balloon into a Tommy gun.
The next morning, Stanley encounters detective Lieutenant Kellaway and newspaper reporter Peggy Brandt investigating the Mask’s activity of the previous night. To attend Tina’s performance, he again becomes the Mask to raid 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 bank robbery, Stanley flees leaving behind a scrap of cloth from his suit that transforms back into his pajamas, while Tyrell and his men are arrested by Kellaway and his partner Doyle.
Based on the piece of cloth, Kellaway suspects Stanley to be the bank robber. Stanley later consults a psychiatrist who has recently published a book on masks and is discovered that the object may be a depiction 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 tricks a large group of police officers into joining him in a mass-performance of the Desi Arnaz song “Cuban Pete” and flees with Peggy, but she betrays him to Tyrell for a $50,000 bounty. Using the mask, Tyrell becomes a malevolent green-faced monster. Tyrell’s henchmen ends up in the possession of the stolen money after Stanley is forced to reveal its location; and they turn Stanley in to the police.
When Tina visits Stanley in the station, he urges her to flee the city. Tina thanks Stanley for his generosity and tells him that she knew he was the Mask all along. 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. Upon arrival, the masked Tyrell kills Niko and prepares to destroy both the club and Tina with dynamite. Milo helps Stanley escape from the station, and Stanley brings Kellaway as a cover and 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, who fights Tyrell’s men, while Stanley fights Tyrell, himself. After recovering the mask, Stanley uses its special powers to rescue Tina by 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 and attempt to capture Stanley once again. However, Tilton tells Kellaway to release Stanley because Tyrell was the Mask the whole time and Tilton calls Stanley a hero for his actions and must have a meeting with Kellaway at dawn.
As the sun rises the following day, all charges against Stanley are dropped. To avoid getting involved with the police again, Stanley decides to return the mask back to the harbor. Tina throws the mask into the water, and she and Stanley kiss. Charlie then jumps in the water to retrieve the mask for himself, only to find Milo swimming away with it.