The Master Of Disguise Review

You'd never guess it from watching The Master Of Disguise but Dana Carvey was once considered a great comedian. In the early nineties, many felt he was the brightest talent on the American sketch show Saturday Night Live, where his fellow cast members included Mike Myers and Adam Sandler. He made his name worldwide as Garth in the Wayne's World movies, which were based on a SNL sketch he conceived with Myers. However, while his co-star rose to superstardom as Austin Powers, Carvey was less fortunate and appeared in a succession of flops like Trapped In Paradise and The Road To Wellville.

Now here he is in this wretched excuse for a comedy, which was supposed to resurrect his career but is more likely to be the last nail into its coffin. It's jaw-droppingly bad, almost devoid of laughs and painfully overlong at eighty minutes, which includes almost ten minutes of out-takes during the closing credits. Never has a film from a major studio looked so desperately patched together, not even D-Tox.

The name of Carvey's character alone should warn you off. He plays Pistacchio Disguisey, a geeky, almost retarded Italian waiter who is unaware of his family's proud history as crime-fighting masters of disguise. When his parents are captured by master-criminal Devlin Bowman (Brent Spiner), Pistacchio's grandfather (Harold Gould) shows up to inform him of his destiny and teach him to use his powers. Hiring as an assistant pretty single mother Jennifer Baker (Jennifer Esposito), the apprentice master of disguise sets out to find his family and defeat Bowman.

This is the point when I really started to despair. As bad as the rest of the film had been, I expected the disguises to be funny. Doing characters is Dana Carvey's forte yet he blows one after another. Silly concepts like a human turtle leave you scratching your head while impressions of celebrities fall flat. Tony Montana has been done to death and Carvey doesn't even do him that well. Unbelievably, he screws up George W Bush, even though his impersonation of George Senior was legendary. To his credit, he does a spot-on Robert Shaw but there's no comic spin on it - it's just Carvey made up to look like Quint, doing lines from Jaws. Who are these impressions supposed to amuse anyway? The film is aimed squarely at children but young kids couldn't care less about Bush and presumably Nickelodeon isn't showing Scarface.

If Carvey's impressions aren't up to much, at least they give you a break from his performance as Pistacchio. Playing an Italian, he acts and sounds like Roberto Benigni after a lobotomy. His whiny voice starts to grate after a couple of minutes and before the film is over, if you last that long, you may be throwing things at the screen.

The supporting cast can't be blamed for the material they're lumbered with. Brent Spiner, sporting a goatee, looks like he wishes he was back on the Enterprise. His character has one gag: whenever he laughs diabolically, he farts. This joke is repeated at least half a dozen times, as if we might laugh if he does it just once more. Jennifer Esposito, a beautiful and charming actress, looks bewildered, as if she's just realised she's the romantic interest in a film where the main obstacle on the path to true love is that the male lead likes women with big behinds and hers is small.

I'm not a snob about comedy - I don't mind admitting I loved Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and The Waterboy - but this is hopeless by even the dumbest standard. I laughed out loud only once, during the out-takes, when a perverted henchman wondered if the master of disguise could be made to impersonate Britney Spears and the Olsen twins. The fact that this idea is relegated to the out-takes and Dana Carvey disguised as a cowpat is in the finished film sums up everything that's wrong with it.



out of 10

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