“Saturday Night Live” veteran David Spade’s LOST AND FOUND is pretty much a typical movie vehicle for a dime-a-dozen SNL refugee. The movie was clearly made to showcase Spade’s thin talent – consisting wholly of delivering biting sarcasm – and its half-hearted attempt at a plot is merely a flimsy excuse for Spade to strut his verbal stuff. His dubious gift of wit, put deftly to use in the TV sitcom “Just Shoot Me,” was not made to last through a movie-length feature. Spade can be funny in a half-hour TV show because a decent supporting cast dilutes and fleshes out his tedious shtick, but Spade is no leading man, and, in a movie centered entirely on him and his wisecracks, the shtick gets old.
The plot is an afterthought at best, but basically LOST AND FOUND revolves around a restaurant owner named Dylan Ramsey (Spade) and his attempts to win the affections of his new neighbor, Lila (Sophie Marceau). Lila’s chief appeal seems to be that she is tall and French. When Lila fails to respond to his advances, Dylan decides to hide her wayward dog, Jack, in his apartment. That way, he can spend a lot of time pretending to help her look for her pet, then emerge as a hero when he miraculously “finds” Jack.
A couple of lame subplots accompany the main plot, but they’re not really worth mentioning. Lila’s loutish ex-boyfriend arrives on the scene from France to reclaim his love and thwart Dylan’s attempts to woo her. Jack the dog swallows a diamond ring, causing Dylan to go to great, often gross lengths (to be left to the imagination) to retrieve the jewel. Et cetera, et cetera.
Everything that happens in LOST AND FOUND is simply a contrived excuse for Spade to utter yet another caustic, frequently cruel one-liner (or to gratuitously abuse the dog – in an appalling attempt at humor). To top off the flimsy plot, the animal abuse, the obnoxious lead character and the movie’s supporting characters are unappealing. Marceau is surprisingly dull. Apparently, even she could not enliven Lila’s vapid character. Furthermore, she looks huge and oddly mannish next to the diminutive Spade. Talented comediennes Estelle Harris (“Seinfeld”) and Marla Gibbs (“The Jeffersons”) make brief appearances, but their presence is wasted, as is Jon Lovitz’s cameo role as a “certified dog whisperer” (lest you be misled, that was the only truly funny line in the movie).
In another peculiar, almost macabre touch, comedian Artie Lange does a dishearteningly pale imitation of the late Chris Farley as Dylan’s sidekick. The attempt to recreate the Farley-Spade combination only serves as a painful reminder of how good Spade could be when he played straight man to Farley, who died in 1997.
Despite his ongoing deceit and smart-aleck-punk demeanor, in the end our hero Dylan predictably gets the girl. After all, Spade co-wrote the screenplay! However, it’s impossible to determine what Lila sees in her smarty-pants neighbor. Frankly, Dylan is a little creepy. He tries hard to be nice and romantic, but he can never shed his whiny, sarcastic tone, so his oily attempts at benevolence just seem smarmy. He manages to win over Lila, a struggling cellist, by giving her a formulaic “believe in yourself” pep talk, after which her fear of success magically evaporates, and she embarks on the road to self-help recovery. Later, Lila discovers that Dylan has been hiding Jack, and she gets really, really mad, but she forgives him after about five minutes. Thus, Dylan saves her from her cheating ex-boyfriend and her psychological demons – all in a couple of days!
LOST AND FOUND insults women and the intelligence of its audience with its condescending attitude toward the female sex and its cruel brand of humor. It glorifies deception and champions a Machiavellian approach to achieving one’s goals. Furthermore, it’s boring. Nothing about the plot is engaging, and none of the characters are compelling or sympathetic. Its only merits are its lack of on-screen sex and violence, unless putting a dog in a dryer count as violence. Some of Dylan’s quips are clever and funny, but a few witty remarks do not make a movie. LOST AND FOUND isn’t even a good dumb comedy like FLETCH or TOMMY BOY. Save your money or perhaps rent the latter movie, which will give you a good idea of what Spade can do in a supporting role. On his own, he can’t hack it.
Pagan worldview of dog-napping, deceptive character with some mild morality including loyalty to friends & confession of wrongdoing (but no real consequences suffered); 10 profanities, 9 obscenities (one from a child character), a bunch of vulgarities, & allusions to child molestation & to masturbation; little violence but frequent animal cruelty; sexual discussions & frequent innuendo; male rear nudity & partial rear female nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, extensive miscellaneous immorality including lighthearted reference to drugs, frequent bathroom humor, significant deception that is eventually rewarded.