The Good: Nothing
The Bad: Not funny, Overbearing soundtrack, Lousy characters, Pretty terrible acting, Recurring flatulence joke.
The Basics: Loud, dumb, and not even ridiculously funny, The Master Of Disguise failed to reinvigorate Dana Carvey’s career and almost sank Brent Spiner’s!
Every now and then, there comes a movie that makes me cringe as I watch it, knowing that the talent in it is being horribly wasted. The trailers for The Master Of Disguise were never enough to get me enthusiastic about the movie to watch it, however, the presence of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Brent Spiner was. I can even understand why Spiner did The Master Of Disguise, a movie that did nothing to showcase his real talents; coming off the Star Trek franchise, Spiner wanted to return to his comedic roots, something he could not do overtly on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Unfortunately for him, The Master Of Disguise was a poor vehicle for him and his natural comedic talents are wasted in favor of recurring gags where he laughs until he stops and audibly farts. It’s not terribly funny the first time and it is death on celluloid the fifth.
Fortunately for Spiner, his are not the only talents wasted, misused or entirely absent from the movie The Master Of Disguise. Harold Gould, who has a Ph. D., is given a particularly droll roll as Grandpa Fabrizzio and Jennifer Esposito appears in the flick solely for the quality of her body. Even James Brolin and Edie McClurg, who can usually be counted on for solid dramatic or absurdly comedic performances, respectively, are underused for their brief parts. All of these otherwise talented people come together to try to revive Dana Carvey’s career, which had virtually disappeared from the cinema following the Waynes World movies.
After the son of a master of disguise takes off the criminal Devlin Bowman, his son, Pistachio, illustrates a strong ability to mimic other people with voices and mannerisms. Retired from being a spy, Fabbrizio Disguisey is now a restaurant owner. Pistachio witnesses his father being abducted and when his grandfather pops back up, he trains Pistachio to be a master spy using an uncanny ability to disguise himself. Grandpa Disguisey teaches Pistachio how to tap into Energio, which will allow him to think like other people.
After hiring an assistant, Jennifer, Pistachio and Jennifer follow a lead, a cigar wrapper, to the turtle club. There, they learn that the cigar was made exclusively for Devlin Bowman. They visit an antique show where they encounter Devlin and he hits on Jennifer. Following that, they go to a party where Jennifer searches for clues as to where Pistachio’s parents are being held. Rescued by Pistachio, Devlin prepares to sell the important artifacts he has used Fabbrizio to steal on Black Market eBay after killing Fabbrizio! With the clock ticking, Pistachio and Jennifer must outwit the villain and recover the Pistachios.
In addition to the ridiculous, recurring Brent Spiner fart joke, which is tiresome and predictable after the very first time, The Master Of Disguise is bogged down by a ridiculous premise and foolish characters that fail to pop. For example, the iconic character of Pistachio’s from the marketing was Turtle Man. Turtle Man is essentially Pistachio in an inflated and hardened fat suit, impersonating a giant, sentient, turtle. He is not actually impersonating a turtle, he just bobs his head up and down and says turtle and Jennifer uses him as an excuse to get into the exclusive Turtle Club. Dana Carvey is not actually performing in a unique or impressive way or embodying a character, he is just wearing a silly outfit, bugging out his eyes and saying “Turtle!”
As contrived as the plot to The Master Of Disguise is, the action storyline could have been sustainable if only the film landed on the humor front. Sadly, it fails to do that. Instead, this is less than an hour and a half of laughless gags, most of which is physical humor, like Pistachio dumping spaghetti on two customers, wiping the sauce off their glasses and then proceeding to dump parmesan cheese on them. That is the level of humor of The Master Of Disguise and it is not at all impressive, engaging, or even funny.
Dana Carvey is very much Dana Carvey in the film. He has a talent for impersonations: presenting different voices and characters. Unfortunately, in The Master Of Disguise, he gives viewers nothing new. His George W. Bush impression at the end is not nearly as well-presented as Will Farrell’s and the Al Pacino-type character is not distinctive or clever. The Master Of Disguise might have held up as a sketch – even, possibly, a recurring sketch – on a show like Saturday Night Live, but as a movie, it falls flat.
For other works with James Brolin, please check out my review of:
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
Last Chance Harvey
For other movie reviews, please check out my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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