The Master of Disguise
review by Elias Savada, 2 August 2002

You know that horrible mouth and sick-to-your-head feeling you awake with the morning after a evening of drinking and carousing? After ten long minutes of The Master of Disguise, you'll beg for another vomitous night on the town instead of having to suffer through the remaining laughless parade of skittish disguises and classic-movie tributes (The Godfather, The Exorcist, and Jaws) so lamely mauled. The production notes say this film runs eighty minutes; it felt like an agonizing lifetime. An obvious contender, with the equally uninspired Kung Pow, for most the year's top ten-worst lists, this is an endless squirm fest of slow-witted, flatulence-filled humor, suitable for only children of very young ages -- those whose film-going memory won't begrudge their parents years later.

Let's play with the movie's tagline, while we're getting nasty. 1000 Faces…and not a single clue.  Hmmm, how about Feels like a 1000 Minutes…and not a single laugh. Maybe the folks who create those Mad Libs books can add a page, 1000 (plural noun) and not a single (noun, pick an obvious antonym).

Now maybe the creators of this nonsense, SNL-alum Dana Carvey, starring opposite himself in various mawkish roles (including his trademark President Bush fils), and Canadian-born stand-up comic/writer Harris Goldberg (Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo) being among the chief culprits, were trying to slap something together they felt every family could adore. Wrong. The writers' insipid meanderings of a man/child with a thousand faces, and the horrifying contempt the filmmaker (production designer Perry Andelin Blake, in a truly uninspired directorial debut) pushes on the audience, is grounds for corporal punishment. Even the name recognition of Adam Sandler, who served as an executive producer on this Happy Madison Production, won't be enough to salvage this instant relic from oblivion.

Pistachio Disguisey (Carvey) is introduced as an annoying mimic and pasta-klutzy waiter in his parents' Italian restaurant, unaware that his father Frabbrizio (James Brolin) is a descendant from a family working undercover to protect the world from evil. Papa had "retired" after a 1979 near-death experience in Palermo, Italy, where he masqueraded as Bo Derek, still a great 10 after all these years. That episode imprisoned the blandly sinister Devlin Bowman (Brent "Data" Spiner) for more than twenty years, where he perfected the annoying habit of punctuating his semi-dastardly laugh with an self-annoying, girlish toot de derrière. As running gags go, this one goes real flat real fast. Released from prison, the vengeful ex-con masterminds the abduction of Pistachio's parents and forces Grandpa Disguisey (Harold Gould) out of hibernation to transform the nut-named lad into a destiny fighting crime. Gramps does the silly yin-yang, manikin-assisted exercises, training his bumbling, pea-brain grandson in the ways of Energico, a new hot-aired soft drink. Sorry, I'm just getting a little lightheaded here in deconstructing this messterpiece. No, Energico is an invisible, genetically-born power that -- according to the twelth-century Tuscan family pop-up bible -- allows its users to morph into other people or creatures. This doesn't make a whole lot of secret sense as the Disguisey clan seems to often be removing Mission: Impossible latex masks of the not-so-mysterious variety. Oh, and "Who's your daddy," is the lame-brained mantra that's allows you to vanquish foes. Yes, The Master of Disgust, er Disguise is truly one for the books.

While sonny boy is immersing himself in the ways of the crime-fighting family business, Bowman forces Frabbrizio, under a most boring excuse, to execute such paper-thin thefts of the U.S. Constitution (poor Michael Johnson), the Liberty Bell (poor uncredited Jesse Ventura), and the Apollo Lunar Module (poor Jessica Simpson), which the madman plans to auction off, along with Bruce Willis' hairpiece from Die Hard II, on a black market ebay. Honest.

Somewhere amongst the rest of the cast are Spin City's Jennifer Esposito as a tush-challenged gal with a spill-a-minute skateboarding son (Austin Wolff). Ditsy Edie McClurg doesn't get enough screen time as Mama Disguisey to showcase how marvelous a comedienne she truly is. Just watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off and you'll see what I mean.

When the filmmakers craft a movie such an unappealing movie like this, at least the opening titles and most horribly in much of the trailer, as if the audience should expect something as wizardly inspired as Harry Potter, it could be time for the Federal Trade Commission to start a fraud investigation. Viewers are instead offered up fat-bottom obsessions, a ocean of pretentiousness, and pomposity on the far side of nauseating. You'll get very angry, very fast. Critics will pan this movie in droves. Audiences will be hankering to lynch somebody for unleashing this disjointed mix of pabulum, low-quality trash, and unimaginative fantasy on the public. The Master of Diguise is this year's first truly stillborn comedy.

Directed by:
Perry Andelin Blake

Dana Carvey
Brent Spiner
Jennifer Esposito
Harold Gould
James Brolin
Maria Canals
Mark Devine
Edie McClurg
Austin Wolff

Written by:
Dana Carvey
Harris Goldberg

PG - Parental Guidance 
Some material may
not be appropriate 
for children





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