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Film / The Master of Disguise

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A 2002 comedy 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:

  1. Pistachio, who should have been trained from pretty much birth, needs to become the Master of Disguise of the title.
  2. Pistachio's father has been kidnapped by a rich crimelord and only Pistachio can save him.
  3. 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.
  • Actor Allusion: In the final scene, Pistachio disguises as then-President George W. Bush. His actor Dana Carvey was known for portraying Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, on Saturday Night Live.
  • 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.
  • Baby Don't Got Back: The main female lead, Jennifer Baker, is mocked by the main protagonist and his father for having a small butt.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cast as a Mask: Done with Pistachio's father disguising as Bo Derek, Michael Johnson, Jesse Ventura and Jessica Simpson, Grandfather disguising as a maid at the restaurant, and Pistachio disguising as one of Bowman's henchmen. Averted with most of Pistachio's other disguises, with Dana Carvey dressed in various costumes and makeup jobs.
  • Chubby Chaser: The Disguisey family has 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.
  • 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.
    • Subverted in a deleted scene where Pistachio manages to completely confuse and confound the two henchmen who had been harassing him through the film.
  • 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: See Post Credits Scheme.
  • 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:
    • Pistachio disguising himself as George W. Bush and Devlin Bowman letting out a colossal fart in a pool.
    • In one of the deleted scenes The Cuteness was Grandpa Disguisey all along.
  • Gasshole: Devlin has a weird habit of interrupting his own Evil Laughs by farting. Even he is annoyed by it.
  • Give Him a Normal Life: Why Pistachio's father quits fighting crime and opens a restaurant.
  • 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 20s while Barney is 7. It's even more this case when you consider that, in real life, Dana Carvey was in his late 40s when he made this movie.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Devlin Bowman manages to get away from being caught by his enemies, but only for a bit. The last scene in the movie is Pistachio, his father, and his grandfather joining forces to finally catch Bowman and reclaim the Declaration of Independence.
  • 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).
  • Meaningful Name: Pistachio Disguisey.
  • 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 describes the question as "sickening"
  • Newspaper-Thin Disguise: Pistachio (as a "cow pie" man) somehow hides from Bowman's henchmen in this manner.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: During the historical montage of the Disguisey family, one guy poses as a statue so he can ambush a thief.
  • Parodies for Dummies: The Master of Disguise for Dummies.
  • Post-Credits Scene: The credits are filled with outtakes and deleted scenes, the credits therefore being 15 minutes of an 81-minute-long film.
  • Running Gag: There are two main ones — Pistachio's obsession with big-bottomed women, and Devlin farting after every time he laughs.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm 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.
  • Spotting the Thread: When Pistachio disguises himself as one of Bowman's henchmen Steve, his disguise would've been a perfect likeness if it wasn't for the fact that he forgot to take off his cherry-pie shoes. Bowman immediately spots this, outsmarts Pistachio and pulls off his "Steve" Latex Perfection mask.
  • Super Villain 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 Stinger: Turns out there is a little man who lives inside the slapping dummy, he then chases Pistachio. Then suddenly he and Pistachio make up and say good bye to the audience.
  • The Take: Fabbrizio Disguisey responds with a take after his son Pistachio's Verbal Tic makes him waxes the lyrics of a song. It's not his son's echolalia that surprises him but the fact Pistachio dares to choose a woman with a small butt despite his family's fetish.
  • 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 vaguely implies that it's because the applicants aren't beautiful women with huge bottoms.
  • Uncertain Doom: The end of the film has Pistachio knock Bowman out, causing him to fall into a swimming pool. Grandpa asks if Bowman is dead, which is followed by a massive fart erupting from the pool. The film then ends immediately, leaving it unclear whether this was supposed to represent Bowman voiding his bowels upon death, or just another example of him laughing and then farting (since he can just barely be heard starting to chuckle as he falls into the pool).
  • 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.
    Devlin Bowman: Am I? [Evil Laugh] [Beat] Huh. [turns to speak, then farts]