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Published: Friday, 8/2/2002

Master of Disguise: Carvey comedy masters stupidity


It takes about 30 seconds, once Dana Carvey makes his appearance in Master of Disguise, for him to become irritating. His character, Pistachio Disguisey, uses a frightful Italian accent, which makes Pistachio seem like a dope. Of course, the entire movie is stupid, but why overdo it?

Pistachio works in an Italian restaurant owned by his Papa (James Brolin) and Mama (Edie McClurg). Although much loved by his parents, Pistachio has problems trying to figure out who he is and why he acts the way he does. There are these voices floating around his head, you see, and a too-frequent tendency to mimic the customers.

When Mama and Papa are kidnapped, Grandpapa Disguisey (Harold Gould) shows up to help, and Pistachio learns the truth about his background. Pistachio, it turns out, comes from a long line of Masters of Disguise, but Papa didn't want him to go into such a dangerous line of work, so he kept Pistachio in the dark. In order to rescue his parents, Pistachio will have to learn the tricks of his heritage - fast.

The whole premise of Master of Disguise is simply an excuse for Carvey to play a lot of characters, some of which are amusing, especially Turtle Guy. But there's no plot to speak of, and no sign of intelligence to be found.

There are a lot of cameos, however, because the kidnapper (Brent Spiner) is forcing Papa to steal various cultural treasures, such as the Constitution of the United States and the Liberty Bell. In order to do that, Papa has to disguise himself as famous people who can get past the security guards. One of these is Jesse Ventura.

Along with being dopey, Master of Disguise is the kind of movie where you're embarrassed for the so-called stars. Spiner, a fine actor who played Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation and John Adams in 1776 on Broadway, is here reduced to flatulence jokes.

Brolin is pretty much walking through his brief appearances. Gould has fun with his role, probably the best in the movie, but it's still nothing to put on a resume.

The only time Master of Disguise wins is when Jennifer Esposito is on the screen. She was obviously hired to look pretty, and she certainly knows how to do that.

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