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Master Of Disguise, The

Italian waiter Pistachio Disguisey can't figure out why he compulsively mimics his customers and longs to change his appearance--until he discovers he was born with the ability to transform himself into anyone or anything.


Meet Pistachio Disguisey (Dana Carvey), an irritating little guy who works as a waiter in his father Fabbrizio's (James Brolin) Italian restaurant. One night, Fabbrizio gets kidnapped by one of his former enemies (Brent Spiner), a criminal mastermind who intends to use him to steal some of the world's most precious treasures, including the Declaration of Independence and the Liberty Bell. A distraught Pistachio gets an unexpected visit from his grandfather (Harold Gould), who spills the beans about the Disguisey dynasty and reveals that Pistachio actually comes from a long line of masters of disguise. With some quick lessons in Energico, the art of transformation, Pistachio is ready to rescue Fabbrizio from his evil captors. And because every master of disguise needs an assistant, he hires a smart and beautiful woman named Jennifer (Jennifer Esposito) to help him track down his father. The story in this film is so simple and the jokes so clean--unless you consider the one running fart gag ''crude humor''--it's a mystery this film received a PG rating.


Well now, isn't that special? Anyone familiar with Carvey can't help but be a fan. His characters from his Saturday Night Live days, including Garth in ''Wayne's World,'' Hans in ''Pumping Up With Hans and Franz''--not to mention the judgmental Church Lady--are comedy classics. Unfortunately, the wittiness that made his SNL characters downright hilarious is wasted in The Master of Disguise. While Carvey shines when mocking people in a compulsive manner in the film, his impersonations are a little rusty. In one scene, for example, Carvey is supposed to be imitating George W. Bush, but until he flat-out calls himself ''Dubya,'' he looks and sounds a lot more like George Sr. For the better part of the film, we see Carvey doing a myriad of silly and unsophisticated characters, like a chunk of grass--complete with a patch of cow dung--and gooey cherry pie filling. Granted, this film is aimed at children, who will probably find a guy in a grass suit funny. But sadly, his characterizations just don't seem up to par. Anyone can don a costume and act silly, and Carvey just doesn't stand out. Spiner (better known as Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation) plays the villain in a stiff and methodical way, while Esposito sort of seems like she's playing herself.


Perry Andelin Blake, who has worked as a production designer in countless Adam Sandler pics, including Billy Madison, The Wedding Singer and Little Nicky, makes his directorial debut with The Master of Disguise. His design skills are obvious: The film has a very ambient and magical feel about it; it's dark and smoky with rich and elaborate sets that include dusty attics with moving bookshelves and dimly lit alleyways. There are a few funny moments in the movie, mostly the cameo scenes with Bo Derek, Michael Johnson, Jesse Ventura and Jessica Simpson, not to mention the scenes in which Carvey displays his gift to mock. But I still can't understand why the filmmakers chose to make the main character Italian. The ridiculous accent makes Pistachio the single most irritating thing about the movie, with that stupid name coming in a close second.

Bottom Line

The Master of Disguise should have toned down its already clean humor even more in order to get a G rating because it is doubtful anyone over the age of 5 will enjoy it. Adults may find this film as amusing as an old lady slipping on a banana peel.