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  Master of Disguise, The Costumed Capers
Year: 2002
Director: Perry Andelin Blake
Stars: Dana Carvey, Brent Spiner, Jennifer Esposito, Harold Gould, James Brolin, Austin Wolff, Edie McClurg, Maria Canals, Michael Bailey Smith, Vincent Riverside, Mark Devine, Kenan Smith, Jay Johnston, Erick Avari, Jessica Simpson, Bo Derek, Jesse Ventura
Genre: Comedy, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: For centuries, millennia even, the Disguisey family have passed on the secret of disguise down through the generations, but it looks as if it may all stop with the last of the line, Pistachio (Dana Carvey). His father, Fabbrizio (James Brolin), decided that the life of a crime fighting camouflage expert was too dangerous for him and he has instead opened a restaurant where Pistachio is a waiter. However, he has a talent for mimicry that he tries out at every opportunity to the dismay of his father and events will conspire to uncover the family secret...

The Master of Disguise quickly gained a reputation for being one of the worst comedies ever made and pretty much halted Carvey's career as a big screen lead. Yes, it was relentlessly stupid, but it was produced by that stable of talent that revolved around Adam Sandler (he was an executive producer on this), scripted with Carvey by Harris Goldberg, the man who had co-written the Rob Schneider vehicle Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. And you can tell the familiar obsessions of these guys are present, such as the single mother as romantic object or more obviously, the celebration of the idiotic over anything remotely intellectual.

You can pretty much tell the level of wit you're dealing with when the main character is called Pisatchio Diguisey - he's supposed to be Italian, so that sounds vaguely right, and he's a master of disguise, so the surname fits. What it isn't is particularly funny, but there were plenty of Hollywood comedies from around this time that were little better, so why did this one receive all the derision? Perhaps it's purely because this one didn't capture the hearts of the public, or more importantly, failed financially at the box office.

But that's not to say it doesn't have its fans, as there were a plucky few who saw Carvey's antics and thought he wasn't as bad as the general consensus would have it. And there are a few moments that may not have you rolling around on the floor, but might raise a smile if you indulge the filmmakers with their daft humour. That said, there are other moments that are simply strange, with Carvey made up as a patch of grass complete with cow shit, a disturbing turtle man (who bites someone's nose off at one point), or a cherry pie - when he emerges from the crust covered in cherries, Carvey looks as if he's suffering from a terrible skin disease.

The plot is a sub-James Bond tale of Pistachio's parents captured by evil genius Devlin Bowman (Brent Spiner) so he can force Fabbrizio to carry out daring thefts with the appearance of doing favours for unimpressive celebrities (Bo Derek?!). Pistachio must then learn the art of concealment from his grandfather (Harold Gould), which proves to be a mystical process, although the main joke is that we can still recognise Carvey under the costumes and makeup, even if few others in the film can. He secures the services of an assistant, Jennifer (Jennifer Esposito) who perfects an "I know this is weird, but let's pretend it's perfectly normal" expression, and inevitably becomes his love interest. Who knows, if Carvey hadn't come under the influence of the Sandler conglomerate this might have been funnier, but as it is it's an uneasy experience. Music by Marc Ellis.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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