The Master of Disguise

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It makes sense that Dana Carvey should have a star vehicle in which he does nothing but make silly faces and use goofy voices. After all, he is one of the hottest comic talents of the day!

This is 1991, right?

What, it’s not? Dana Carvey has been a has-been for nearly a decade already? Then why in the name of all things holy is he starring in a movie that is clearly, obviously, patently nothing more than an excuse for him to do his shtick? That’s what current stars do, not old guys trying to stage a comeback. I’m really confused now.

“The Master of Disguise” is about an Italian buffoon named Pistachio Disguisey (Carvey). So there’s two reasons already why you shouldn’t bother with this film: One, Dana Carvey is playing an Italian, which is probably the one ethnicity in all the world at which he is unconvincing. And two, the guy’s name is Pistachio Disguisey.

Pistachio is a nerdy waiter at his father’s restaurant until mom and dad get kidnapped by a bad guy (Brent Spiner) who wants to use Pistachio’s dad’s natural mimicking abilities to steal the world’s treasures. See, the Disguisey genes give one the natural ability to mimic, mock and impersonate people. Fortunately, most of the people Pistachio encounters have broad, easy-to-mimic voices; you could probably do a fair impression of most of these people, and you’re not even a Disguisey.

Anyway, with his parents missing, Pistachio is taught by his grandfather (Harold Gould) the secret of his Disguisey abilities. He hires a lovely assistant named Jennifer, who is played by Jennifer Esposito, who looks like Jennifer Aniston. The two of them, aided occasionally by grandpa, go in search of the parents, donning disguises and fake voices at every turn.

One of the principal jokes is that every time the bad guy laughs maniacal, it causes him to pass gas. Is there anything funnier than a man passing gas? Apparently not, at least as far as this movie is concerned.

Another principal joke is that Pistachio keeps getting slapped in the face. Honestly, it happens at least a dozen times in the course of the film.

Pistachio is not a character, but a one-dimensional collection of quirks and oddities. How, then, could you think to base an entire film around him? Is anyone NOT getting tired of movies that are nothing more than extended “Saturday Night Live” skits? Rarely has such a talented comedian been so wildly out of touch with what’s funny. “The Master of Disguise” is an embarrassing, amateurish disaster.

F (1 hr., 20 min.; PG, some very mild profanity and some crude humor.)

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