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'Lost & Found': Paws Before Going

By Nicole Arthur
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 23, 1999

  Movie Critic


Lost and Found
David Spade stars in "Lost & Found." (Warner Bros.)

Director:
Jeff Pollack
Cast:
David Spade;
Sophie Marceau;
Jon Lovitz;
Artie Lange
Running Time:
1 hour, 38 minutes
PG-13
Contains crude language and adult situations
There are several ways to tell you're not watching a highbrow film. You might notice the absence of subtitles or that the characters don't spend much time talking about death or art or eternity. Or you could just wait for one of the supporting actors to smear dog poop on his face. That's a dead giveaway.

There are others, of course, all of which appear in "Lost & Found": jokes about fat people and flatulence (preferably – but not necessarily – in combination), strip poker and gays, foreigners and childhood sexual abuse – the latter topic proving such a rich source of hilarity it's plumbed on three separate occasions.

Directed by Jeff Pollack (best known for creating "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" and directing "Booty Call"), the film stars "Saturday Night Live" alum David Spade, one of the few performers who's successfully built a career on a single one-liner ("And you are . . .?"). Spade plays Dylan, a hapless restaurateur who's smitten with his new neighbor, Lila (Sophie Marceau), a sexy French cellist. (Why the cello? Because a piccolo wouldn't have provided an excuse for superfluous shots up her dress.) In a craven bid for attention, Dylan kidnaps Lila's mischievous Cairn terrier so he can "find" him for her later. Comedy ensues.

That's the idea, anyway. But if the standards for feature films starring former "Saturday Night Live" cast members weren't already so low, you could be forgiven for thinking "Lost & Found" was dragging them down. (Mike Myers? Call it a happy accident. Anybody remember "Three Amigos"?) Spade had a hand in that lusterless track record, co-starring with the late Chris Farley in "Tommy Boy" and "Black Sheep." Lest we fail to recognize him without an obese sidekick, the filmmakers supply a new one here, Artie Lang as Dylan's fawning assistant, Wally.

As anyone who's watched the NBC sitcom "Just Shoot Me" knows, Spade is no actor. He's a quipper. And his acerbic asides aren't anywhere near funny enough to carry a movie. Indeed, so uncompromising is Spade's stand-up delivery that he seems to be wandering through the narrative like he's onstage at the Improv. All he needs is a microphone, a stool and exposed-brick backdrop to complete the impression. And, no, the scene in which he lip-syncs shirtless to Neil Diamond's "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show" doesn't remedy matters.

Sure, "Lost & Found" may star a dog, but there are animal movies and then there are animal cruelty movies. (Blame "There's Something About Mary" for the trend.) One hopes Coby the terrier is in the canine equivalent of the Screen Actors Guild: He's in a role better suited to Wyle E. Coyote. He spins around in a clothes dryer, he's tossed out an upstairs window – all without suffering any ill effects. Mostly, though, Spade's frequent scenes alone with the dog seem designed to give him the opportunity to deliver his lines without being upstaged. It even works. About half the time.

   
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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