Twilight of the clods

“Son of the Mask” can’t match the manic intensity of its predecessor

Katrina Wilber

It’s back.

And, unfortunately, it’s more irritating this time around.

“Son of the Mask,” the sequel to the 1994 Jim Carrey film “The Mask,” brings back the eponymous magical object, plus over-the-top special effects that appeal mostly to a preschool audience.

Carrey is absent from this installment, and in his place is the significantly less rubber-faced Jamie Kennedy as Tim, a cartoonist embroiled in a supernatural conflict that centers around his son, who has been born with superpowers as a result of the mask’s influence.

We discover that Norse god Loki wants the mask, which was originally his, and he will do whatever it takes to get it back.

Alan Cumming plays the god of lies and mischief. It’s a hard-knock life for Loki, because his dad is Odin, chief of Asgard. Loki’s immortality is doomed if he does not find his lost mask.

While Odin (Bob Hoskins) is the stereotypical loud, macho Norseman, Loki is more sensual in a black leather trench coat and carefully coiffed hair. The contrast is ridiculous, but so is the concept.

Despite its fantastical set up, “Son of the Mask” falls back on familiar Hollywood plot devices. Tim is slightly immature, and his wife, Tonya (Traylor Howard), wants a baby. But, of course, he’s not ready. Imagine the horror when she tells him she’s pregnant. Tonya is a successful career woman in the fashion industry, and her position threatens Tim’s sense of himself as a role model for his son.

All hell breaks loose when he’s left with the baby for a week while she’s out of town, but he realizes how much he really loves the child, and everybody lives happily ever after.

It just takes him 1 1/2 hours to figure that out.

The baby and the dog are frightening when they are under the powers of the mask. The baby is maliciously intent on terrorizing his father, and the dog becomes a pop-eyed, slobbering, baby-threatening maniac. It’s not funny, it’s cruel.

Lawrence Guterman, director of the CGI, talking-animal masterpiece “Cats and Dogs,” quotes random bits from other movies such as “Scarface” and “The Exorcist” for no apparent reason.

“Son of the Mask” teaches us that, for a woman to love a man, he must drive a fancy car and be ultra smooth at all times. The incompetent-father theme gets most of the laughs.

The film tries to emulate the success of animated films for both children and adults such as “Shrek” and “Finding Nemo,” but it comes up short. A scene in which Loki drops a graffiti-covered wall that proclaims “Loki is a god in the sack” replaces innuendo with mere vulgarity.

But it’s not just that scene that doesn’t cut it. It’s the whole movie.