Film Fare...with Mark Moorehead
Son of Mask

Jamie Kennedy, 34, debuts as the star of the new family film Son of Mask, sequel to The Mask, starring Jim Carrey. In this sequel, though, there’s no Jim Carrey.

That alone should make this one a tough act to follow. No actor would be less than apprehensive about the success of such a film, but somehow Kennedy manages to convince us it’s no big deal, even while secretly keeping his fingers crossed.

Kennedy’s success, however, should come to no surprise to the loyal fans of his Candid Camera-style television hit The Jamie Kennedy Experiment.

In that role he’s funny, clever, impulsive, honest—and, he admits, lucky. Unlike Allen Funt, the original host of Candid Camera, Kennedy was a key participant in each sketch of his show, relying on his talent as an impersonator and comic.

Despite his comedic genius, however, Kennedy plays straight man through most of Son of Mask to two co-stars: a hilarious one-year-old and a jealous dog.

Wrangler News caught up with Kennedy during a swing through Phoenix, one of a series of nationwide stops promoting the film

Wearing blue jeans and zippered turtleneck shirt, and sporting a punkish hair style, Kennedy looks more like a rock star on break versus the mild-mannered cartoon animator he plays in the film.

Like his film character wearing the mask, Kennedy merrily unleashes a series of impersonations and impressions with which he describes what it was like working for weeks with a baby and a dog named Bear. One word sums it up: Chaotic.

To get the dog to perform, the animal trainer would put a piece of turkey on Kennedy’s lap.

“The dog trainer would go ‘come on, Bear, get that turkey; come on, get it, get it,’” recants Kennedy. And this went on for days.

“And if the baby was in the scene,” says Kennedy, “a guy would go ‘goo-hoo ghee, hee-hee, goo-hoo ghee, hee-hee,’” and that also went on interminably. So between the “come on, Bear, get it” and “goo-hoo ghee hee-hee,” Kennedy says the set was insane.

Youngest of six children, Kennedy was reared with five sisters, growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania and attending Catholic schools for 12 years.

The actor’s desire to perform in front of people dates back to when he was 13.

“I put on magic shows at the colleges my sisters attended. I was always trying to be an entertainer. Sometimes I was funny, but most of the time I was annoying,” laughs Kennedy.

After the magic wore out, Kennedy moved to Los Angeles and began his difficult career as a stand-up comedian. He enjoyed that gig, he says, but his real dream was to be in front of the camera, where he could reach a much wider audience. The problem is, everyone in L.A. wants to be in pictures.

While going to countless auditions, Kennedy worked a variety of low-paying jobs that included a stint at Domino’s Pizza just to make ends meet. His big break occurred when he masqueraded as his own agent.

He landed a role in a series of horror films, playing the “geeky” Randy Meeks in Scream I, Scream II and Scream III.

Hollywood recognized Kennedy’s talent and gave him his own television show, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment, which ran for three seasons.

His struggle to break into show biz is chronicled in his book Wannabe: A Hollywood Experiment.

When asked if he was nervous about doing a sequel to hugely popular film like The Mask without Jim Carrey, he admits he worried about it at first but soon got over it.

“I think it’s like the James Bond character played by Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton, explains Kennedy. “Hopefully I’m more Roger Moore than Timothy Dalton”.

When asked if family films were the direction he wanted to take after being a stand-up comic and television star, or if Son of Mask was just another Jamie Kennedy Experiment, he replied he would like to do different types of films.

“I do enjoy a good family film,” says Kennedy. “I remember my family taking me to see Young Frankenstein, Tootsie, Three Men and a Baby, and I would laugh at them as hard as my parents (did).”

Film critics smirking at the prospects of Son of Mask making it at the box office should be warned: kids at the screening for this film roared with laughter. Kennedy, it seems, may end up laughing all the way to the bank.