"If The Master Of Disguise had been a free cable movie, well, I still wouldn't have recommended it."
— Richard Roeper
"I wouldn't even recommend it if you cut it up and made it into ukulele picks. This movie, it never ended and it was only 80 minutes long!"
— Roger Ebert on Ebert & Roeper
"The third worst comedy I've seen."
"It kills comedy!"While critically panned, it made triple it's budget back at the box office.A film starring Dana Carvey as Pistachio Disguisey, a bumbling Italian American waiter working at his father's restaurant. He has a bad habit of mimicking people unintentionally. His mother and father are kidnapped one night, by mysterious bad guys. So along comes his Grandfather who reveals that the whole paternal family line are natural masters of disguise who utilise a mysterious transformative magic called 'Energico'. His father never told him because he didn't want his son to live a life full of dangerous enemies. But to get his father back he must train in the art of subterfuge, learn the Disguisey martial art (consisting of slaps and blocks to humiliate your opponent) and learn to use the tools of the trade, found in his father's secret lair (behind an incredibly elaborate bookshelf in the attic).Oh, and he needs to hire a sidekick, who must be an attractive woman, preferably one with a nice, big bottom. So Pistachio's young friend Barney sends his unemployed mother, Jennifer Baker played by Jennifer Esposito, for an interview and she gets the job (despite her obvious handicap of a bottom measurement of only 34 inches). So Pistachio and Jennifer hunt down his father's old nemesis, Devlin Bowman (played by Brent Spiner), and his new collection of priceless artifacts. Along the way, Pistachio learns to see past Jennifer's tragic lack of bottom-fat and love her, and she learns to love him and his family's complete and total insanity.There are three basic plot threads:
- Pistachio, who should have been trained from pretty much birth, needs to become the Master of Disguise of the title.
- Pistachio's father has been kidnapped by a rich crimelord and only Pistachio can save him.
- Pistachio is falling in love with his sidekick and she is falling in love with him.
Tropes used include:
- Action Prologue: The movie begins with a backstory being narrated by Grandpa Disguisey, showing members of the Disguisey family in action throughout history.
- Aerith and Bob: Pistachio is named after a nut, his sidekick's name is Jennifer. This is lampshaded by Jennifer who thought that her son was joking about his name.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Energico is the magical Disguisey heritage that lets Pistachio apparently just grow studio-grade costumes, prosthetics and disguises.
- Armor-Piercing Slap: The Disguisey Family style of Martial Arts.
- Awesome McCool Name: Devlin Bowman is an awesome villain name.
- Bullet Seed: As "Cherry Pie Man", Pistachio shot cherries at guys chasing him while infiltrating Bowman's secret underground lair. He even manages to do a headshot on one of them as he falls into the water.
- Badass Grandpa: Grandpa Disguisey.
- The Bait: Jennifer is kidnapped by Devlin Bowman so that Pistachio will mount a rescue operation and walk right into a trap.
- Big Damn Heroes: Jennifer is captured after spying on Devlin Bowman, so Pistachio swoops in at the nick of time, pretending to be a British Secret Agent who needs Jennifer's help. He talks Devlin into letting her go, rather than draw the attention of the British Secret Service to his lair. Later, Jennifer is kidnapped, but this time she was intended to serve as bait for Pistachio.
- Chubby Chaser: The Disguisey family have a thing for very big women, but more specifically women with huge bottoms. Father Disguisey is happily married to a rather large woman, and when Grandfather Disguisey points out what he considers a good-looking woman for Pistachio, an assessment that Pistachio clearly agrees with, it's someone even larger. There is also an implication that although Jennifer is still slim and small of bottom when she marries Pistachio, that she'll willingly gain weight for the man she loves after spending some quality time with Mama's deliciously fattening Italian food.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Pistachio.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: Devlin Bowman usually has his two henchmen chase off Pistachio quite successfully, but when Jennifer is in danger, Pistachio fights off a large gang of ninja henchmen to save her.
- Crazy Enough to Work: Pistachio tends to believe that many of the plans suggested to him fall into this category. They usually don't.
- Creative Closing Credits
- Crushing Handshake: Pistachio receives one when Jennifer first introduces him to her boyfriend, Trent (who already suspects and accusers Pistachio of trying to put the moves on her).
- The Dark Side: Energico has a Dark Side which Pistachio lampshades is just like Star Wars. It involves using your powers for self-gain or Becoming the Mask when imitating bad guys.
- Gainax Ending: The Cuteness was Grandpa Disguisey all along?!? What?!? How?!?
- Gasshole: Devlin has a weird habit of interrupting his own Evil Laughs by farting.
- Grumpy Old Man: Grandfather Disguisey
- Housewife: Completely averted by Jennifer, a working single mother, and Momma, the head chef of an extremely successful, and extremely busy, Italian American restaurant.
- I Have A Big Butt You Must Obey: Set during a climactic scene after the credits, Devlin Bowman summons a quartet of women with large posteriors to try seducing Pistachio over to the Darkside of Energico, to make him use his talents for booty (wealth) and booty (women).
- Intergenerational Friendship: Pistachio is implied to be in his 20's while Barney is 7. It's even more this case when you consider that, in real life, Dana Carvey was in his late 40's when he made this movie.
- Latex Perfection: Skilled disguisers are able to pull this off.
- Master of Disguise: The movie hints that the Disguisey family were behind pretty much every myth and legend of this sort of thing, forever. And of course, one of the three main plots revolves around Pistachio learning to become the Master of Disguise that the title mentions.
- Ironically, Pistachio's disguises usually draw far more attention to him than if he'd just gone without a disguise (i.e. gathering information while disguised as a bizarre turtle man.)
- Mind Screw: The Gainax Ending mentioned above.
- Never a Self-Made Woman: Brought up and averted. Jennifer is informed about the job opportunity by her son, but she still has to go through an interview that has apparently sent many very qualified, jaded applicants running from them in tears. She also has to overcome the 'handicap' of her small size and miniscule bottom.
- Furthermore, when Jennifer asks if the Job pays (anything), grandfather exclaims "this cat has claws." And when she later asks about the dental policy, grandfather/dog describes the question as "sickening"
- Newspaper-Thin Disguise: Pistachio (as a "cow pie" man) somehow hides from Bowman's henchmen in this manner.
- Playing Gertrude: Edie Mc Clurg and James Brolin are 10 and 15 years older than Dana Carvey yet play his parents while Harold Gould is 32 years older than Dana and plays his grandfather.
- Post Credits Scene: The credits are filled with outtakes and deleted scenes in order to pad out the running time. As the Nostalgia Critic noted, it's like the film is effectively forcing you to watch the DVD special features, knowing you will never buy it.
- Running Gag: There are two main ones — Pistachio's obsession with big-bottomed women, and Devlin farting after every time he laughs.
- Screw Politeness Im A Senior: Grandfather Disguisey no other, He does this to his grandson Pistachio, In most of the movie.
- Shout-Out: Several; one to Chariots of Fire with the elder Disguisey stealing the Constitution, then to The Court Jester with the Secret Service agent's "Get it? Got it? Doubt it." And, of course, "Energico" which has a Light Side and a Dark Side and gives the main character's family their superhuman powers.
- Slap Stick: A.K.A. "Old Fashioned Humor", there's plenty of it.
- Star-Derailing Role: Dana Carvey.
- Supervillain Lair: Devlin's "Secret Underground Lair! Full of Rare Artifacts!" is one of these. It is actually underground, being a sub-basement of his manor-house. However, it is not elaborate enough to count as an Elaborate Underground Base, being only a single, museum-style, trophy room with a stage and a camera set-up to sell the rare artifacts on a secret black-market auction online. Oh, and some ninjas in the ceiling.
- The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Somehow the prerecorded hologram of Grandfather Disguisey knew some kid would run into the room to plan with them, among other things.
- Terrible Interviewees Montage: Averted. Instead of actually seeing the interviewees, we just see the grandfather yelling "Out!" at poor applicant after poor applicant. Why he fires each is never really explained, though the subsequent scene with Jennifer sort of implies that it's because the applicants aren't beautiful women with huge bottoms.
- Tropes for Dummies: The Master of Disguise for Dummies.
- Whole Costume Reference: The little man Pistachio finds inside the Slapping Dummy Man would look exactly like Mario if he also wore a red cap.
- You're Insane!: Fabrizio (still disguised as Jessica Simpson) says this to Devlin.Fabbrizio Disguisey: [removes disguise] Truly insane.