Rating: Not Rated
Cher as Florence ‘Rusty’ Dennis
Sam Elliott as Gar
Eric Stoltz as Roy L.’Rocky’ Dennis
Estelle Getty as Evelyn
Richard A. Dysart as Abe
Laura Dern as Diana Adams
Micole Mercurio as Babe
Harry Carey Jr. as Red
Dennis Burkley as Dozer
Lawrence Monoson as Ben
Ben Piazza as Mr. Simms
L. Craig King as Eric
Alexandra Powers as Lisa
Kelly Jo Minter as Lorrie
Commentary by director Peter Bogdonovich
Interview with director Peter Bogdonovich
Widescreen (1.85:1) Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 2 Hours 7 Minutes
Mask was originally released in 1975. This is the Director’s Cut of the film. It is based on a true story.
In the late 70’s, Florence ‘Rusty’ Dennis and her son Roy L. ‘Rocky’ Dennis move to a new area in California. Despite having a rare condition that severely distorts his face and gives him bad headaches, Rocky is fairly well adjusted. He’s exceptionally smart, very friendly, and mature beyond his years. Rocky also takes the inevitable stares and teasing about his face well. He’s supported by his tough, no nonsense mother. She treats her son normally and dares anyone to treat him otherwise. Despite this, Rusty has her own fair share of problems. She can’t maintain a steady relationship with a man and she has a drug problem. But she and her biker gang friends are fiercely devoted to Rocky. The group of tough bikers is a surrogate family for him.
As Rocky enters a new stage in his life, he finds new problems to face as well. He begins to realize that girls will never be romantically interested in him because of his face. He also realizes that his mother is not anywhere near kicking her drug habit. Rocky also realizes that his dream of doing a motorcycle tour of Europe may never happen. He has overcome every other obstacle in his life, but will he be able to make his remaining dreams come true?
This director’s cut of Mask is not rated, but the original version is now rated PG-13 (though previously rated R).
I have to admit that I’m not really into movies like Mask. “Movie Of The Week” type films are not really up my alley. If a film is about someone’s inspiring story of triumph over tragedy, I’m generally uninterested. I tend to steer clear of movies like Mask or The Elephant Man. Despite this, I watched Mask and thought it was pretty well made. The story was interesting, the characters were unique, and the acting was excellent. Though it’s not my kind of film, I appreciated that it was well done.
Eric Stoltz is excellent as Rocky. He really brings the character to life, even underneath all the makeup. You begin to care for the character in short order. Whether he’s showing off his knowledge in a junior high classroom or riding with a biker gang, his performance seems totally believable. He also makes a great team with Cher as his mother. It was a breakout role for her and it’s easy to see why she got noticed for it. It required her to show toughness, joy, sorrow, rage, annoyance, etc. She ran the full gambit of emotions as Rusty and pulled it all off well. She also has an interesting romance with Sam Elliott as Gar. He’s his usual tough self and it’s easy to buy him as a biker. He acts as a father figure for Rocky and it never seemed forced or contrived. And in a cameo role, Laura Dern appears as Diana Adams, a blind girl that ends up falling for Rocky. She did an excellent job as well. Also look for Golden Girls alumni Estelle Getty as Evelyn, Rocky’s grandmother.
For this film director Peter Bogdonovich restored a few extra scenes. He added a funeral scene where one of the older bikers dies. You see them burying a motorcycle with the coffin and shooting off their guns. Rocky also makes some comments about death that are reiterated later on. This scene gives those moments some more weight. Bogdonovich also extended a musical number in the film where Cher sings with Rocky around a campfire. But one of the most celebrated additions is the restoration of music by Bruce Springsteen to the soundtrack. His music was used in the theatrical release, but the record companies and studios couldn’t agree on their use in the home video release. They put in other music instead. Now that, too, has been restored. In fact that whole soundtrack has a great selection of classic rock that I particularly enjoyed.
Overall Mask is a well made, well acted film. Unfortunately, a tear jerker like this isn’t my cup of tea and that’s the only reason I rated it lower. Your enjoyment of this film will obviously depend on your personal tastes.
There are only two extras included on this DVD. Unfortunately neither of them really get into the story of the real Rocky and Rusty. I wanted to know more about the real people, see interviews, etc. None of that was included here, so it was a bit of a disappointment. Here’s what you will find:
Commentary by director Peter Bogdonovich The director provides an interesting commentary. He talks a lot about the characters, the filming of the movie, etc. He’s got a lot of good stuff to say, but I have to admit that I would have liked to have heard what Cher, Stoltz, or Elliot would have said on the commentary.
Interview with director Peter Bogdonovich This is an in-depth interview with Bogdonovich. He explains how he got involved with the movie and how the death of a friend inspired him to take this script and make the movie after a 4 year hiatus. He discusses how he cast everyone and he shows audition footage of Cher. Bogdonovich also talks about the cuts made to the movie and the eventual restoration of the Springsteen music. If you’re a fan of the movie you won’t want to miss this.
The Bottom Line:
If you’re into tearjerker movies about triumph over tragedy, then Mask is definitely for you. Fans of Cher and Eric Stoltz will want to add this to their collections.