The former host of “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment” stars in Son of the Mask, a family comedy that relies heavily on computer animation and special effects.
Kennedy agreed to do the movie after director Lawrence Guterman (Cats & Dogs) reassured him that the film would be different from The Mask. Underneath all the computer-generated images and effects, Son of the Mask is really a movie about fathers and sons.
“[Guterman] said it’s going to be this kind of action, adventure, kind of mystical [movie] – kind of like relationships with a Mr. Mom feel,” says Kennedy, while promoting the film in Los Angeles. “I think that probably some fans of the original might feel alienated. It’s going to be compared, but there’re going to be a lot of new fans. I mean, what are you going to do?”
Son of the Mask relies on the same zany cartoon environment that was in the original, but with the film’s PG rating, is not as dark. “The first movie had a lot of influence from Tex Avery, which was more from the ’30s and ’40s – more of the hyperbolic, exaggerated animation. … We took some of that and we spring-boarded to more of the Chuck Jones [feel],” says Guterman, who studied animation at Sheridan College of Art in Toronto.
Carrey’s performance in The Mask left an indelible mark with many moviegoers and industry execs, believing a sequel could never be done without him. That is, until the creators behind Son of the Mask hit on the idea of using the family film genre to create a new story.
This time the mask takes control of a struggling animator (Kennedy) who’s putting off having children with his wife (Traylor Howard), but then inadvertently gets her pregnant while wearing the mask. Their child is born possessing all the same powers and mischievous tendencies as the mask’s creator, Loki (Alan Cumming). Furious that the mask is still at large, Loki’s father (Bob Hoskins) orders him to find it and locate the baby.
Son of the Mask is visually similar to its predecessor but Guterman made sure the movie could stand on its own. According to the director, he didn’t want to do another movie where another guy gets the mask, gains confidence and gets the girl.
“That movie was done and it was done with Jim Carrey, and nobody can ever do that movie better than Jim Carrey. [Son of the Mask] is much more about a guy who’s growing up and learning to be a responsible adult and at the same time retaining his creativity,” Guterman says. Guterman cast Kennedy after seeing him in an episode of “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment” which ran for three seasons on the WB network, seeing a special softness in Kennedy that he thought would work well in Son of the Mask.
“I thought, even if he’s this guy and he’s not ready to have kids and he has an occasional one-liner or wisecrack about it,” says Guterman, “you’re still going to like him and you’re still going to go with him. He’s got kind of an ‘every man’ quality.”
Guterman also worked with Kennedy to create a new look for when his character wears the mask.
“I don’t think we wanted to repeat the bald head and the no ears because that would look too similar to what Jim Carrey had,” Guterman says.
The final result is reminiscent of The Puttermans, the plastic robotic family in the Duracell battery commercials.
After spending three seasons morphing into different characters as host of “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment,” the makeup for Son of the Mask was easy, Kennedy says. “It was actually one of the best [makeup jobs] I’ve ever had. It was really subtle to your face and it really stuck. You forgot you [were] wearing it,” he says. “I love becoming someone else, so putting on prosthetics is great. I loved it.”