"Jack of All Disguises, Master of None" is a series that attempts to unpack the complexities of the 2002 children's film The Master of Disguise starring Dana Carvey. On Day 3, we speculate how the Knowles sisters were coerced into participating in the project.
There's a lot of things that The Master of Disguise is indecisive about during its sixty-eight minute running time, including but not limited to: what catchphrase it's pushing, what "energico" is, why Jennifer Esposito looks so upset for the entirety of the movie (she has Celiac's disease, you guys!), or which of its commissioned theme songs it wants to hang its hat on.
Let's talk about that last one.
While everything about TMoD is delightfully bad, the soundtrack is a yet another cog in the fiasco that deserves special attention. At eleven tracks, it would appear that the producers put out a word to every pop star in the game, promising a cash prize and cameo for whoever turned in the best work, and ended in a nine-way tie.
Yet another major indecision is which song about The Master of Disguise is the song about The Master of Disguise, so let's pore through it and decide on our own. It's what Pistachio Disguisey would have wanted. (I'm assuming he's dead.)
Track 1: "M.A.S.T.E.R., Pt. 2" by Play ft. Lil' Fizz from B2K
What a perfectly early aughts track listing! We're shouting letters? Okay!
This is more than an anthem to Dana Carvey's character work - it's a brand opportunity for early-aughts girl group Play (Anais! Faye! Rosie! Anna!), who made their debut in the U.S. with songs like "I Don't Get Down Like That" and a clothing partnership with Limited Too. In a tight three-minute opus, we're treated to still-relevant styles like the six-braids-on-one-head-threaded-through-a-visor and the cutoff-top-with-chains.
While there's some solid boy band rapping going on here, the poignant lyric of focus is "He's the master of disguise," occasionally spelling the word "master" because it's a kids movie, and kids need to know how to spell the word "master."
The main challenge of this video is to introduce as many people as possible in under four minutes, as evidenced by the few seconds we see Solange dancing in this orange box.
Fun fact: one of the writers on this song is Marques Houston, i.e. Roger from Sister, Sister. Praise be.
Track 2: "Fun" by Rose Falcon
This song is Rose Falcon's first single ever and it's featured all over this movie, most memorably when the midget dressed like Mario inside of the Slapping Dummy chases Dana Carvey on the streets of Little Italy while the lyric "This is gonna be fun!" repeats on loop.
It doesn't look fun, Rose, but I believe in the gospel of Disguisey deeply and trust that this song was chosen to accompany this moment of pathos for a reason.
Also, your dad is a close collaborator with Bon Jovi. That sounds fun! Does Bon Jovi hang around your house in pajamas? I can't imagine Bon Jovi in pajamas. Let me know, Rose! Cool song!
Track 3: "Happy Face" by Destiny's Child
While The Master of Disguise holds many top ranking in my heart, it also holds the distinction of the only double-Knowles soundtrack in existence! Just kidding, there's two movies in 2002 that hold this distinction and the other is Beyonce-helmed Austin Powers in Goldmember, which is both a better movie and stars Dana Carvey's Wayne's World costar Mike Myers.
While "Happy Face" is not a song written for The Master of Disguise (it's a B-side on 2001's Survivor), its disturbing lyrics sound like they could be lucid entries from any cast member's captain's log while the movie was shooting.
"Woke up and realized this wasn't so bad after all!" Beyonce croons after announcing that she has "put on her happy face."
"Everything is gonna be alright," the song repeats an egregious sixteen times in a row. If you will, imagine Dana Carvey repeating this mantra to himself in the mirror whilst engulfed in the Turtle Guy costume for a deeply poignant moment.
Note: What are the chances that Mike Myers asked Beyonce to help out ol' Dana during production of Austin Powers in Goldmember, her movie debut? Think about it.
Track 4: "Eenie Meenie Minie Mo" by Strong
I love when hip-hop songs use wind chimes as a prominent instrument, so "Eenie Meenie Minie Mo" is heavy in my music rotation. Though I'm sure producers intended the title to be a reference to Carvey's rotating disguises, the lyrics are really just a person who calls himself "Strong" listing places he could go, including but not limited to the East Side, the West Side, the North Side and the South Side.
This song currently lives on Spotify exclusively, but that's probably for the best. Is there really an artist out there named Strong? I hope he's still alive.
Track 5: "Walking on Sunshine" by Val C
TMoD can't afford the rights to the original Katrina & The Waves rendition of "Walking on Sunshine," but they did recruit an artist named "Val C" to perform the same song in some dark chamber so Pistachio Disguisey could stumble around a fake Italian restaurant to the tune. I couldn't find any information on Val C on the Internet, so I'm going to run with the theory that Val C is Vitamin C's cousin and that they have made out but never consummated.
Track 6: "Double Dutch Bus" by Frankie Smith
I hope that I'm not making too broad a statement by saying that Dana Carvey appeals to mostly white people, a point hit home when the only audience cutaway shot in his 1995 Critic's Choice special was a closeup on what I have to assume was the only black man in the audience.
But then there's this soundtrack, populated mostly with pop-funk like this song about ass, hip hop a la Knowles and whoever the fuck Lil' Fizz is. Not only is Carvey attempting to foster a new generation of fans in the kids with The Master of Disguise, he or the producers appear to be casting an even wider net with a primarily hip-hop soundtrack. Of course, this could also be a post-production decision when Paramount realized that the demographic for this film was Dana Carvey and no one else, because the cast is almost completely white.
Track 7: "Master of Disguise" by Vitamin C
This is TMoD's second overt attempt at a theme song. The first ten seconds of this track appear in the film over and over, but it's clear that Vitamin C didn't take away the prize for "best song about middle aged man in closest goofy hat." Bummer!
After "Smile" and "The Graduation Song," tracks like this were Vitamin C's death march as a pop star, releasing other soundtrack songs for 2003's The Lizzie McGuire Movie and a cover of "Kiss the Girl" on Disneymania 3 (even though everyone knows the best cover is by Ashley Tisdale on Disneymania 5). Today, she's the vice president of music at Nickelodeon under her regular old name Colleen Fitzpatrick, Dana Carvey is still doing Garth and director Perry Andelin Blake would never direct a movie again, returning to his role as Adam Sandler's go-to production designer.
Track 8: "Conga" by Enrique Garcia
Please do not hold this against Gloria, for she knows not what she does. She receives so many royalties from this song alone that she could have thought The Master of Disguise was a music production company, a middle school production or an incriminating lawsuit for money to be collected from. I retain that SHE DID NOT KNOW.
"Conga" is used to its fullest effect in his "Tony Montana" character at Devlin Bowman's party, dancing with an inexplicable troupe of hot women who cannot keep their hands off of him. The reason for this sequence is as a "distraction," but its true motivation is to "remind the audience that Dana Carvey is supposed to be a highly fuckable character and if this what we must subject Gloria Estefan to in order to communicate this then so be it."
Track 9: "This Could Be Love" by Solange Knowles
Far and away the most sensual track on the album, this song from Solange's debut is supposed to bring out the wild sexual tension between Dana Carvey and poor Celiac's disease-ridden Jennifer Esposito, as if we couldn't already tell! The eighteen year age gap and her clear disinterest are not enough to deny a script that Dana Carvey wrote HIMSELF!
Here are other horrible things that are not enough to cause Jennifer Esposito to turn this film down, presumably because she ate too much bread that day and has no idea that she's going to be in Crash in 2004:
- being repeatedly lambasted for not having a big enough ass
- pretending to be Brent Spiner's sex slave
- dating a human caricature who tells Pistachio to "GET AWAY FROM MY LADY, FREAK!"
- dress up in this confusing outfit in a sequence that was ultimately removed from the film
As for Solange, she has generously provided a sexy song to a sexless couple, one I assume has buzzing lumps of flesh where their genitals should be.
Track 10: "Cherry Pie" by Jhene Aiko
Another misplaced hiphop track in the whitest movie of all time, "Cherry Pie" is a decent song by an artist who desperately needed some mainstream exposure after years doing backup vocals for B2K. She would later be nominated for AMAs, Grammys and would win a BET Award for her solo work, but not before saying this on her return to music in 2012.
"That's when I decided I would 'sail' myself rather than sell myself."
Tragically for Aiko, the true reason that "Cherry Pie" was included in the film is because Dana Carvey dresses up as an actual human-sized cherry pie.
Track 11: "M.A.S.T.E.R. Part 1" by Hardhedz / Hardhedzz
Please, for the love of God help me find this song. It is nowhere.
In the ranking of transparently recruited theme songs for The Master of Disguise, most would rank the early Play masterwork "M.A.S.T.E.R. Part 2" before inexplicable pop-punk band that's either listed and "Hardhedz / Hardhedzz" on the album because there was a question of how the band spelled its name or that's just what the band's name is.
There is no intel on this group, and no evidence (speculation) that it isn't the Dana Carvey Family Band beta testing some material. As far as the internet is concerned, there is no band called Hardhedz, Hardhedzz or Hardhedz/Hardhedzz, yet another example of history denying itself to a devastating fault.
Though I cannot do it justice to "M.A.S.T.E.R. Part 1," condemned for some reason left to the last track of the album, is in the movie and features the brilliant line "He's the master of disguise...and you may never recognize." Objectively, this is far better interpretation than "M.A.S.T.E.R. Part 2"'s oversimplified spelling, no matter how catchy or ahead of the Gwen Stefani curve the song-spelling was.
The Master of Disguise's soundtrack is less of a creative complement to one of the worst kiddie comedies of all time and more of a pass at snagging a broader audience, a fleeting hope that a Destiny's Child track would be enough to get them in the theater. For maximum campiness, Dana Carvey should have rapped and I would like to remind him that it is not too late to do so.
This is gonna be fun!
Tomorrow: The Importance of Ass and Other Abandoned Themes in TMoD