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Satirizing the mix of terror, adoration, and resentment that accompanies new parenthood in a kids’ movie is a little like inviting your mom along for a therapy session, but that’s precisely what Son of the Mask, a grating cartoon-live action follow-up to the 1994 Jim Carrey vehicle, does. The ever charmless Jamie Kennedy plays Tim Avery (named for legendary animator Tex Avery, whose style is relentlessly aped here), a burgeoning cartoonist whose infant son Alvey has supernatural powers, thanks to Tim’s brief but strategic dalliance with Norse god Loki’s mask. The deity (Alan Cumming) comes knocking, and exhausting computer-generated antics ensue. The movie is built around these ostensibly kid-friendly fracases, but at its heart is a deep, unresolved ambivalence about child rearing. After nearly 90 minutes of hair-raising baby-in-peril set pieces, the film lets itself off the hook by declaring, “There’s nothing more important in the universe than taking care of your family!” A highly debatable thesis, and one that watching Son of the Mask in reverse chronological order would vehemently dispute.

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