Mild bank clerk Stanley Ipkiss finds a mysterious face mask - and when he puts it on, can't take it off. The mask empowers its wearer, too, so that poor Stanley is now hip, extremely extrovert, and manic. Unfortunately, when the mask does finally pop off his face, Stanley has to deal with the consequences of what he's done.
It's an excuse for Jim Carrey to act at the top of his manic range as he becomes - metaphorically and very often literally - a cartoon character in a live action world. When he sees a pretty girl, for instance, his eyes pop out and his tongue unrolls across the floor.
That makes this sound like a film for die-hard Carrey fans and dedicated followers of special effects, but there is more here, and enough to make it rather interesting. In retrospect - having since seen "The Truman Show" and Carrey's straight acting ability - it's easy to see that "The Mask" is dependent on his subtlety as much as his gurning.
For Jim Carrey is able to convey fear through this mask, even before it so envelops him that it's absorbed into his body. And it's the fear that makes this film work. The mask is a frightening curse and for all its apparent benefits, the damage is severe.
The moral - that you can be confident without having to hide behind a persona - becomes perhaps a bit too obvious, but along the way this is exuberant fun.
"The Mask" is shown on Wednesday 20th December 2000, on BBC1 at 8:30pm