If Hell has a Blockbuster, I bet the only title it carries
is Master of Disguise. The Horned One himself could
not invent a punishment more infernal than treating his tormented
tenants to repeated viewings of Dana Carvey's latest
cinematic catastrophe, a film so wretched even the Country
Bears regard it with disdain.
In the movie, Carvey—who at this rate, will soon be disguising
himself as the Hollywood Square due south of Bruce Vilanch—plays
Pistachio Disguisey, a character supposedly of Italian origin,
though most likely born somewhere on the border between irritating
I think the character might be involved in a plot of some
kind, most of it effectively wiped from my memory and replaced
by flashbacks of intense annoyance. What I do recall is that
Pistachio has a "gift" for mimicry, a genetic trait
passed down to him by a long line of Disguiseys, otherwise
known as Masters of Disguise. When his father, Fabrizio (Brolin,
proving there are indeed far worse things than being married
to Barbra Streisand) is kidnapped, Pistachio learns the truth
about his heritage from his grandfather (Gould), a
character who apparently does not warrant an actual name.
Grandfather tutors Pistachio in the trade of transformation,
wisely entrusting the life of his only son to a complete imbecile.
However, realizing that Pistachio might want to embarrass
someone other than just himself, Grandfather hires Jennifer
Esposito to foolishly encourage his grandson's multiple
personality disorder. Grandfather then makes a very smart
move, excusing himself from the majority of the movie, and
allowing the two potential lovebirds to discover the kidnapper's
The man in question is Devlin Bowman (Spiner), a criminal
mastermind who plans to use Fabrizio's talents to pilfer the
world’s most precious treasures (in a scene highlighting all
that is wrong with both democracy and movie cameos, Fabrizio
resides within the skin of Governor Jesse Ventura in
an attempt to steal the Liberty Bell). In the time-honored
tradition of cartoonish supervillains, Bowman's only other
hobby is occasional cackling, a habit that exposes his rather
mean flatulence problem, although it might just be the sound
of Spiner's career slowly deflating.
Pistachio uses one disguise after another to try to break
into Bowman's lair, even camouflaging himself as a cow paddy
at one point—funny, since the movie itself is disguised as
a piece of shit. By some miracle, Pistachio actually manages
to save his father, a happy ending by traditional movie standards,
though I suspect the audience will be rooting for the projector
to catch on fire.
Of course, the story is just an excuse for Carvey to break
into his many different characters, which should be a good
thing—after all, the comic has proved himself a master of
the up-to-the-minute impersonation, on both “Saturday Night
Live” and in his stand-up routines. There is, however, a difference
between mimicking Ross Perot and transforming into
a man-sized turtle, the distinction residing in relevance
and entertainment value. In other words, what's the point?
However, there is a much more important question to ask oneself,
especially if you have had the misfortune of seeing the film's
trailer: Is Turtle Guy actually the personification of all
things evil, as he appears to be? Unfortunately, the excruciating
tortoise scene doesn't provide answers so much as provoke
more questions, mostly along the lines of, "Why, dear
God, why?" You also have to wonder how emasculated Carvey
must feel, sporting a costume that even a four-year-old girl
would consider herself too butch to wear for Halloween.
That's really the biggest problem with Master of Disguise:
whether you're four or forty, the film simply won't fit your
comedic sensibilities. By the end of the film, even the kids
in the audience stopped giggling at the fart jokes, while
the parents looked ready to drive their minivans off a cliff.
And while most of the humor is unbearably low, some of the
film’s jokes aim a little high, at least for the target age
group. Ah, if only I had a nickel for every 6-year-old kid
who said, "Hey, look, an Exorcist homage!"
To be fair, there are a few good things about Master of
Disguise—okay, more like two good things. The opening
credits are cute, and the movie looks good—the set
design by Robert Greenfield is a bright spot. Otherwise,
director Blake and co-writers Carvey and Goldberg
receive the distinction of crafting not only the year’s worst
film, but also one of the most irritating.