David Spade and Sophie Marceau have surprising chemistry in this lame film
Lost & Found
Starring: David Spade, Sophie Marceau, Patrick Bruel, Artie Lange, Mitchell Whitfield, Martin Sheen, Estelle Harris, Rose Marie, Marla Gibbs, Carol Cook, and Jon Lovitz
Screenplay: James B. Cook, Marc Meeks, and David Spade
Producers: Morrie Eisenman, Matt Huson, Broderick Johnson, Andrew A. Kosove, and Wayne Allan Rice
Director: Jeff Pollack
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sex-related humor, brief nudity and language
If there is one thing that really irks me about films that center around music, it's the "faking." "Faking" is my term for actors who can't play a musical instrument but are required to for their role. The piano is by far one of the easiest instruments to fake on, since there are eighty-eight keys to choose from, and one must merely learn where to put your hands. It doesn't even matter if you hit any of the right notes--that's what the sound editors are for. But in Lost & Found, Lila Dubois (Sophie Marceau) is a master cellist. For anyone that knows me personally, they also know that I have been playing the cello for several years. Suffice it for me to say that Marceau herself can not play the cello. Obviously the filmmakers taught her the very basics of how to hold a cello, but they didn't bother taking the time to make it look like she actually knows how to play it.
I realize that this is a petty thing to quibble about, but some films (such as the recent Hilary & Jackie or the much older Electric Dreams) get actresses who know how to play the cello. In Hilary and Jackie, Emily Watson portrays a woman who is expert on the cello. In real life, Watson actually knows how to play the cello. In Electric Dreams (a guilty pleasure of mine), Virginia Madsen looks like she knows how to play the cello (I am not sure if she really does or not). It is this one thing that bothers me the most about films centered around music. I forgive a film for this flaw if the music has no purpose in the plot. Unfortunately for Lost & Found, music is what keeps this yarn together.
Lost & Found begins with Dylan Ramsey (David Spade), co-owner of a moderately successful Italian restaurant, trying desperately to get a loan from a banker so that he may open up another location. However, the bank keeps rejecting his application about as often as he gets rejected by women. He's never found the right one (a woman, that is), until Lila Dubois moves into his apartment complex. Lila is everything he has ever dreamed in a woman: intelligent, very beautiful, and French. Her Greek-goddess looks immediately attract him to Lila, but when he discovers that she is also funny and smart, he falls in love. Unfortunately for him, her philandering boyfriend Rene (Patrick Bruel) followed her to Los Angeles, and is putting the moves on her once again. So, what's a poor, shrimpy American guy to do? Why, steal her dog of course.
Lost & Found is the second romantic comedy to deal with a tortured dog (the other being the highly successful There's Something About Mary) , and while the scenes here featuring the dog aren't nearly as funny as those in the Farrelly brothers comedy, there is something to be said about David Spade and Sophie Marceau. In what may be one of the strangest pairings in romantic comedy history, Spade and Marceau are about as different as you can get. You would never imagine them together, but for some odd reason, they both share an incredible amount of charisma up on the screen. Certainly, it is every male teenager's dream to get a girlfriend like Marceau (and this film is obviously pointed straight at that age group). In fact, their awkward pairing paradoxically makes us care for their future. There is a goofy charm behind the film that pays off whenever the comedy doesn't.
Unfortunately, this is first and foremost a comedy, and the comedic moments pay off so little that it's hard to tell what the intentions of the filmmakers were. The rivalry between Rene and Dylan creates some humorous moments, particularly when Rene discovers that Dylan has kidnapped her dog. And the Single White Female-esque pairing of Dylan and his best friend Wally (Artie Lange) creates some laugh out loud moments. Yet somehow, even some of the moments that should be extremely funny don't work, namely because of some poor production values and bad direction. There are times that are ripe with comedic chances, and the film doesn't take any. This brings up another question: which is better, a film that goes all out and does everything it can to make you laugh, or a film that holds back when the comedy should be bursting through? I opt for the former, since that is precisely what makes the Farrelly brothers comedies work so well. It's a real shame here, since the moments with the dog could have been just as funny (or even moreso) than those in that other tortured dog comedy.
Director Jeff Pollack is quite a talented comedic director, especially considering he did 1997's surprising Booty Call. But something seems to be lacking here in the directorial department. The comic timing is off, which probably accounts for the lack of truly humorous moments. Not just that, but the direction seems to be placid, letting the actors do whatever they want. Certainly, watching David Spade doing his schtick isn't a chore, but most of the other actors trying for comedy seem incredibly out of place. Even the usually reliable Artie Lange doesn't seem to know what to do. It's not all Pollack's fault, of course. The screenplay isn't just predictable, it's also immersed in cliches, using dialogue we've heard before and plot situations we've seen before. Much of the funny dialogue that works more than likely was provided by Spade who co-wrote the screenplay. It's a shame this all seems a little too similar to There's Something About Mary.
David Spade is one of those actors in the same vein as Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey. Either you like him or you don't. And while I hate Adam Sandler, I am a devout follower of Spade's, particularly on his hilarious TV show Just Shoot Me. While this film does feel more like a sitcom than an actual film, Spade's sheer exuberance makes up for a lot of the film's pitfalls. It's a shame he isn't strong enough to save the film. Spade is really the only reason to see this, so if you don't like his cynical sense of humor, you are better off skipping this one. Sophie Marceau made a splash back in 1995 with her American debut as Mel Gibson's love interest in Braveheart. Here, she proves that her talent wasn't just a fluke. Marceau has the kind of screen presence some actresses dream of. Patrick Bruel is also good as the antagonist, always seeming like a philanderer, but charming enough to see why women would forgive him for his faults. Artie Lange gets irritating after a while--he's best taken in short doses, like on his show Mad TV. Other than that, the rest of the cast is merely adequate.
Lost & Found is rated PG-13 for crude and sex-related humor, brief nudity and language. Certainly, pre-teens will find a lot to laugh at here, and admittedly it occasionally is laugh out loud riotous. It's just not funny enough, and fails as a comedy. It does, however, work as a romantic story, which is a feat that should be applauded in and of itself. Like There's Something About Mary, Lost & Found ends with a song-and-dance number (although certainly not as memorable). Also, the film does have one very memorable scene as Spade impersonates Neil Diamond. It's very fun to watch, and displays Spade's comedic abilities perfectly. It really is too bad the film is more a practice in missed opportunities than in true, funny comedy.
** out of ****
Reviews by Boyd Petrie