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Obviously, Dana Carvey likes to dress up, talk in funny voices and mimic other people. Lucky for him, his new role in Master of Disguise provides plenty of opportunity to indulge those personal passions with the chance to play no less than a dozen or so different characters.
As Pistachio Disguisey, he is the youngest generation in a long pedigree that has perfected the ability to become someone else. But as a bumbling waiter in his family's Italian restaurant, he knows nothing about the ancient household secret until one dark night when his parents (James Brolin, Edie MeClurg) are kidnapped from their eatery kitchen.
That's when Grandfather Disguisey (Harold Gould) arrives with an antiquated tome containing all the hush-hush history of his ancestors and begins Pistachio's pained apprenticeship into the family's craft of disguise. Shortly after being threatened by a snake, punctured by a dart and repeatedly slapped in the face, the bespectacled grandson begins to unearth clues to his parents' whereabouts. With the aid of a lovely assistant (Jennifer Esposito), he closes in on the lair of his father's archenemy, Devlin Bowman (Brent Spiner).
Meanwhile, the captor forces Pistachio's father (disguised as sprinter Michael Johnson, Governor Jesse Ventura and musical artist Jessica Simpson) to help him amass an underground lab full of priceless artifacts to sell on the Internet.
Unfortunately, audiences will have to pander to more than the film's fondness for camouflage. Along with the many faces of Carvey are repeated comments on the female posterior and other anatomically descriptive language, flatulence gags and crude jokes that parents may not expect in a PG movie.
Even though Pistachio's concern for a klutzy young skateboarder is admirable, (he even goes so far as to buy knee pads for the boy), kids will more likely mimic his goofy turtle antics and play out their own version of the copycat game. Hopefully, they won't take to wearing underwear on their heads.
Without a solid storyline to hold this film together, Master of Disguise masquerades as a movie when it should be classified as a series of vignettes.
Master of Disguise (2002) is rated PG: for mild language and some crude humor
Cast: Dana Carvey, Harold Gould, James Brolin