Published Jun 13, 2013You know a movie's in trouble when its puerile antics make you pine for the classiness of something like Dana Carvey's The Master of Disguise or anything featuring Eddie Murphy in a fat suit. Neither director/co-writer Goran Kalezic nor star/co-writer Victor Altomare have produced any credited work in the past 12 years, and we'd have been better off if it had stayed that way.
Stylistically, The Great Chameleon looks like what would happen if the Knowledge Network tried its hand at HBO-style entertainment. After a horribly shot kidnapping scene and a barely competent '70s action flick-inspired title credits sequence (I wouldn't want to disparage high school AV club members by suggesting this work is at their level), we meet FBI agent Katy Sims, who's about as convincing as a first-time soap opera actor.
As blandly as possible, she suggests a radical plan to rescue the kidnapped girl while lining the pockets of her and her partner, Officer Curry (Robert Davi — for when you need sleaze that costs less than Elias Koteas): unleash Joe "the Chameleon" Murky.
By freeing this repugnant man-child from prison, Sims and Curry hope that he'll penetrate the generic criminal underworld, solve the case of his missing niece and lead them to his cache of stolen bills without causing too much collateral damage along the way.
Taking a page from Who's Harry Crumb? and making a crap sandwich out of it with another from the Kevin James edition of the Happy Madison bible to cook up his petulant persona, Victor Altomare is a shoe-in for most obnoxious leading man in the history of cinema. This "master of disguise" relies on broad racial stereotypes, homophobia and, at best, doltish scatological humour to befuddle his prey.
Actual actors Stacy Keach and Robert Davi must have been hard-up for a gig to tackle this juvenile turkey, and their competent performances opposite all these hacks and amateurs just feel out of place.
If you're fascinated by the worst the entertainment industry has to offer, The Great Chameleon is a jaw-dropping curio of bad taste. (Image Works)