Total loser Gus (Rob Schneider) and his equally derelict friends Richie (David Spade) and Clark (Jon Heder) spent a lot of time in their school days sitting on the bench during baseball games. Now all grown up they decide to help a kid Nelson (Max Prado) from being bullied on the field. It turns out his father Mel (Jon Lovitz) is a billionaire who hires the guys to build confidence in his son. If they play in a tournament and help wage war against the bullies of the world Mel will promise the winning team the greatest stadium ever built. They call their team "Mel's Tournament of Little Baseballers and Three Older Guys" and hire Reggie Jackson to train them. But it turns out Gus was really a bully back in school and he now has to win the team's trust back. These guys make the Three Stooges look like Harvard grads the Dumb and Dumber dudes look like geniuses. If you thought Jon Heder was an amazing talent and Napoleon Dynamite was extraordinarily innovative then this performance may be a major disappointment wiping out any hope the actor can play more than one note. Sure he may have stretched a bit as the scene-stealing bookstore owner in Reese Witherspoon's Just Like Heaven but he's even more of a dazed dumb slacker in Benchwarmers. Schneider and Spade have already proven to be one-note talents--Spade's little bratty boy routine is running as thin as is Schneider's hairline. The only good acting comes from anyone under the age of 20 particularly Prado and the kid bullies. Even though Adam Sandler has personally moved on he still hires his old pals to do the silly movies he used to do through his production company. We have already be subjected to Grandma's Boy--and now Benchwarmers. This time around producer Sandler also drags director Dennis Dugan into the mix. He’s the guy who helped turn the comic actor into a superstar in films such as Happy Gilmore and Big Daddy. But by trying to create that old magic with the new hot-slacker-du-jour Heder and ripping off The Bad News Bears story Sandler fails. Benchwarmers is just a waste of time for anyone over 12. But hey if being humiliated smashing mailboxes and tossing hot potatoes makes you laugh then there's a seat for you on this bench.
August 02, 2002 12:18pm EST
Meet Pistachio Disguisey (Dana Carvey) an irritating little guy who works as a waiter in his father Fabbrizio's (James Brolin) Italian restaurant. One night Fabbrizio gets kidnapped by one of his former enemies (Brent Spiner) a criminal mastermind who intends to use him to steal some of the world's most precious treasures including the Declaration of Independence and the Liberty Bell. A distraught Pistachio gets an unexpected visit from his grandfather (Harold Gould) who spills the beans about the Disguisey dynasty and reveals that Pistachio actually comes from a long line of masters of disguise. With some quick lessons in Energico the art of transformation Pistachio is ready to rescue Fabbrizio from his evil captors. And because every master of disguise needs an assistant he hires a smart and beautiful woman named Jennifer (Jennifer Esposito) to help him track down his father. The story in this film is so simple and the jokes so clean--unless you consider the one running fart gag "crude humor"--it's a mystery this film received a PG rating.
Well now isn't that special? Anyone familiar with Carvey can't help but be a fan. His characters from his Saturday Night Live days including Garth in "Wayne's World " Hans in "Pumping Up With Hans and Franz"--not to mention the judgmental Church Lady--are comedy classics. Unfortunately the wittiness that made his SNL characters downright hilarious is wasted in The Master of Disguise. While Carvey shines when mocking people in a compulsive manner in the film his impersonations are a little rusty. In one scene for example Carvey is supposed to be imitating George W. Bush but until he flat-out calls himself "Dubya " he looks and sounds a lot more like George Sr. For the better part of the film we see Carvey doing a myriad of silly and unsophisticated characters like a chunk of grass--complete with a patch of cow dung--and gooey cherry pie filling. Granted this film is aimed at children who will probably find a guy in a grass suit funny. But sadly his characterizations just don't seem up to par. Anyone can don a costume and act silly and Carvey just doesn't stand out. Spiner (better known as Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation) plays the villain in a stiff and methodical way while Esposito sort of seems like she's playing herself.
Perry Andelin Blake who has worked as a production designer in countless Adam Sandler pics including Billy Madison The Wedding Singer and Little Nicky makes his directorial debut with The Master of Disguise. His design skills are obvious: The film has a very ambient and magical feel about it; it's dark and smoky with rich and elaborate sets that include dusty attics with moving bookshelves and dimly lit alleyways. There are a few funny moments in the movie mostly the cameo scenes with Bo Derek Michael Johnson Jesse Ventura and Jessica Simpson not to mention the scenes in which Carvey displays his gift to mock. But I still can't understand why the filmmakers chose to make the main character Italian. The ridiculous accent makes Pistachio the single most irritating thing about the movie with that stupid name coming in a close second.