The Master of Disguise
1 out of 5 stars
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Four words strike horror into the heart of any film critic: A Happy Madison Production. Yes, it's another shockingly unfunny romp from the Adam Sandler stable. This is Dana Carvey's vehicle, and he stars, improbably, as a naive 23-year-old Italian named Pistachio Disguisey who hasn't a clue he's last in a long line of Masters of Disguise. Papa and Mama (Brolin and McClurg) have protected him from a life of espionage and danger, but when they're kidnapped by their arch nemesis (Spiner), Pistachio's grandpa (Gould) steps in to teach Pistachio the Disguisey way. With the help of his new assistant (Esposito), he assumes a series of increasingly inventive disguises to save the day.

First of all, Carvey (age 47) is a gifted comic and mimic. So why is he writing and performing this rubbish, just taking random stabs at comedy and never coming close to the target? There may be three or four vaguely funny moments in the whole film. Novice director Blake doesn't have a clue what to do with the camera, missing every over-staged gag and concentrating far too much on the overdone makeup and set design. And he edits with a Magimix--it's barely coherent, and you can tell how harshly it's been assembled by the wacky clips in the closing credits; many of those scenes and costumes aren't in the film at all. And Carvey himself isn't much better, recycling his classic Saturday Night Live characters (you can spot them all in there, unintentionally) into this pathetic mess. Only Gould and McClurg emerge with any dignity at all. Starry cameos from Bo Derek, Jesse Ventura and Michael Johnson don't help. The whole production has that lazy Happy Madison vibe in which no one can be bothered to think about the people who watch the film. I have to sit through it; it's my job. You don't.

cert PG themes, language, innuendo 3.Dec.02

dir Perry Andelin Blake
scr Dana Carvey, Harris Goldberg
with Dana Carvey, Jennifer Esposito, James Brolin, Brent Spiner, Harold Gould, Edie McClurg, Austin Wolff, Maria Canals, Mark Devine, Jay Johnston, Kevin Nealon, Gabriel Pimentel
release US 2.Aug.02; UK 17.Jan.03
02/US 1h20

Plot twist: Lucky for Pistachio, Jennifer's hunky boyfriend doesn't stick around long (Carvey, Devine, Esposito)...

carvey esposito spiner
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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall