Friday April 23, 1999
Bodily secretions and abused pooches aside, the most startling quality of "There's Something About Mary" was the way it married the romantic comedy genre to the teen gross-out movie. All of that raunchy stuff that had audiences either squirming or rolling in the aisles might've shook up the folks who flock to Meg Ryan movies, but it has long been the bread and butter of a certain kind of flick that caters to, shall we say, less delicate tastes.
The Farrelly Brothers' accomplishment was getting both audiences together in the same theater, and satisfying them both. "Mary" made it seem easy. "Lost & Found," David Spade's new movie, shows how hard it truly is. Even for those who didn't find "Mary" as funny as the rest of the world seemed to, its mix of crudity and sweetness, explicitness and charm, offered the shock of the new. "Lost & Found" is nothing but a cynical, astonishingly inept attempt to copy "Mary's" formula.
Spade, playing essentially the same smug, smart-alecky character he plays on the NBC sitcom "Just Shoot Me," is enraptured by his pretty new neighbor (French actress Sophie Marceau). In what passes for logic in this movie, he tries to win her affections by kidnapping her dog. The plot's other particulars don't really matter. We've seen it all before, if not in other movies then in creaky TV sitcoms.
Spade co-wrote this movie, and he apparently had the good sense to realize that he can't carry an entire film. So "Lost & Found" is stuffed with extraneous bits featuring funnier (but often misused) TV comedians like Jon Lovitz, Estelle Harris, Rose Marie and Marla Gibbs. Probably Spade's biggest splash in the movies were in the two comedies he made with the late Chris Farley, "Tommy Boy" and "Black Sheep." This movie features a corpulent Farley-like character (Artie Lange) in a misguided attempt at duplicating that chemistry.
Of course, just about everything in this movie is an attempt at duplicating something else.
Like "Mary," this movie is about a short, not particularly attractive guy who is fixated on an unattainable, good-hearted and great-looking woman. Both movies also are set in seaside communities and have disgusting old lady homebodies as supporting characters. Both have annoying doggies that are just begging to be abused.
The most glaring similarities, though, are in the movie's attempt to shock.
Some of the low points: Spade makes his dimwitted flunky (Lange) poke around with his fingers in mounds of dog feces for a missing ring. Then, just for fun, he tricks the idiot into smearing the stuff on his face.
Then, let's see? There's the scene where Spade tosses the dog into a clothes dryer. We hear the pooch yelp and whimper as it slams again and again against the sides.
And let's not forget the scene where Spade knocks out a little kid in a pet store.
These scenes go beyond distasteful, they're just cruel. All of these actions are true to the jerky, weaselly persona Spade has made his calling card, but they make him a difficult suitor to root for. The smug way he dispenses pain and humiliation isn't easy to laugh at.
All of this points to the two major differences between "Mary" and "Lost": Ben Stiller's character in "Mary" was likable (if pathetic), and "Mary" was sporadically funny.
Lost & Found, 1999. PG-13 for crude and sex-related humor, brief nudity and language. An Alcon Entertainment Production, released by Warner Bros. Director Jeff Pollack. Producers Wayne Rice, Morrie Eisenmann, Andrew A. Kosove, Broderick Johnson. Co-producer Todd P. Smith. Screenplay J.B. Book & Marc Meeks & David Spade. Cinematographer Paul Elliott. Editor Christopher Greenbury. Music Supervisor Michael Dilbeck. Music John Debney. Production Designer Rusty Smith. Costume Designer Susan Bertram. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes. David Spade as Dylan Ramsey. Sophie Marceau as Lila Dubois. Patrick Bruel as Rene. Artie Lange as Wally. Mitchell Whitfield as Mark Glidewell. Martin Sheen as Millstone.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times