Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Dana Carvey has been funny plenty of times in the past, but anyone harboring fond memories of those times would do well to stay away from The Master Of Disguise, a film about as funny as a seeping wound. Speaking with an accent that makes Bob Hoskins' turn in Super Mario Brothers look like a model of Italian-American dignity, Carvey plays a character named Pistachio Disguisey. When evil, flatulent mastermind Brent Spiner kidnaps kindly parents James Brolin and Edie McClurg, Carvey discovers—shades of Harry Potter—that he belongs to an ancient order, the Masters Of Disguise. (Apparently the last name wasn't enough of a clue.) Committed to preserving order and justice through the art of disguise, the Masters don't, as might be expected, opt to blend in with the crowd; they instead assume the identity of a variety of loud, colorful characters. The approach is puzzling. Why, for instance, would taking on the guise of a boisterous, lederhosen-clad German constable be an effective strategy when infiltrating Spiner's lair? Perhaps those not initiated into the Master Of Disguise order couldn't understand. When not in disguise, Carvey spends much of his time smacking a wooden training dummy and lusting after big-bootied women—catnip for Masters Of Disguise, apparently. That's about as racy as the film gets, as it aims squarely for younger, less discriminating audience members. Even so, some of Master's choices seem pretty strange. In interviews, Carvey has said that he made the film for his kids, who apparently love take-offs of Rip Taylor, Al Pacino in Scarface, and Robert Shaw's sea captain from Jaws. Co-produced by Adam Sandler and directed (if that's the right word) by Perry Andelin Blake, the film looks like it costs about $10 to make, and it may take longer to watch than it did to write. The credits start rolling not long after Master hits the one-hour mark, and then take their time as bloopers and tomfoolery roll behind them, some taken from scenes that didn't make the movie's final cut. Apparently those scenes weren't up to the high standard set by the moment in which Carvey disguises himself as a pile of cow shit.


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