Directed by: Perry Andelin Blake
Starring: Dana Carvey, Jennifer Esposito, James Brolin, Brent Spiner, Harold Gould
See the preview for The Master of Disguise, and you'll catch all the funny scenes -- no need to watch the movie itself. Running at just a little over an hour, The Master of Disguise is about 60 minutes too long, and if you pay full price expecting to see a full movie, the only guarantee you'll have is that of feeling ripped off. (For some reason, the blooper reel at the end shows snippets from several episodes that never made it into the movie. Go figure.) There's no doubt that Dana Carvey (Wayne's World, TV's Saturday Night Live) is a talented guy, able to impersonate about anything that walks or crawls. And it's good to see him back working after a long absence from botched open-heart surgery. But warm fuzzies about the boyish comic's return aside, Carvey can't make even his most-loyal fans happy if the comeback isn't worth the wait. Sad thing is, the premise of Disguise is excellent: A bumbling nerd learns he's really a master mimic whose magical talents can save the world. But what happened is that the filmmakers, led by first-time director Perry Andelin Blake, forgot one of the timeless rules of magical adventures: An apprentice of magic is supposed to be a kid, not a mature man acting brainless. If the story had had Carvey playing his real age and already being a Master of Disguise who was teaching his genuinely young apprentice, the movie could have soared. Instead it laid a big, dorky egg. Carvey is the loopy restaurant waiter Pistachio Disguisey, who impersonates different people and a turtle on his quest to rescue his kidnapped parents. (Here, notice should be given to the film's real stars -- the brilliant costume and makeup artists.) Pistachio's assistant is patient Jennifer Esposito (Don't Say a Word). (Pistachio, who's never been kissed, is very attracted to Jennifer, even though she doesn't have an enormous tush, as the women of Pistachio's frequent dreams do -- one of the movie's most un-funny gags.) Pistachio's father is James Brolin (Traffic), who still looks so sexy we can all see why Barbra Streisand made him her latest hubby. Cameos from Bo Derek and Gov. Jesse Ventura were fleeting but cute. Veteran Harold Gould (Patch Adams) as Pistachio's long-lost grandfather is so nasty to everyone -- he even tells poor single mom Jennifer, who's merely asking about her promised dental insurance, that she "sickens" him -- you wish a T-Rex would drop in from Jurassic Park and chew him to pieces. His grating character ruined any sense of magic the film was trying to push. Everyone -- including all the hapless little kids in the audience -- knows that, while old wizards may be gruff and intimidating, way deep down inside they love their ignorant apprentices and inspire them. Fans of Star Trek's humane robot, Data, might enjoy seeing Brent Spiner play a stupid arch-villain. The kids really liked Spiner farting every time he was trying to be funny -- at least somebody behind Disguise knows one sure-fire kid-pleaser.