It's not so often that one scene can make a movie worth seeing, but "Lost & Found" may have it. The crucial bit arrives late in the movie, after boy has met girl and lost her, and after the bank has turned down his application for the all-important loan that would save his funky restaurant.
The restaurateur, catering the banker's big party, learns that singer Neil Diamond can't perform as scheduled, seriously disappointing the banker's wife. So the restaurateur gamely unbuttons his shirt and dramatically saunters onstage to belt out "Hot August Night."
The restaurateur, of course, is cute comedian David Spade, and his overstated imitation of Diamond is just preciously delivered. And for about five or so minutes, the uneven, predictable and mostly dumb comedy "Lost & Found" comes alive.
As for the rest (the party-saving singing gets him the loan, natch), Spade should have stuck with his TV gig on "Just Shoot Me." That sitcom, along with his buddy turns with the late Chris Farley ("Black Sheep"; "Tommy Boy"), proved Spade can light up a screen as a dead-panning injection of comic relief.
But "Lost & Found" shows he needs a lot more wattage before he can carry a film on his own narrow shoulders. Sophie Marceau donates a showgirl's effort as Spade's love interest. The title refers to trivial goofiness about her elusive dog, which Spade kidnaps only so he can pose as a rescuer. But while she certainly has beauty (remember her stunning addition to "Braveheart"?), the script gives her scant chance to frame it suitably.
Most notably, her clunky performance as a cellist gives us the worst example of performance-dubbing since Milli Vanilli. Blame for the clumsy bow-synching should fall on director Jeff Pollack, who relied on a crude-and-rude attitude to goose up his first film, "Booty Call." Left to rely on wit without an "R" rating, Pollack's bollixed.
You can't blame Spade for pulling out the stops to leap up to leading man. All those years as an ensemble player on "Saturday Night Live" and other TV spots must wear on a comic. But so far, there's little evidence he can hold a full screen on his own. Here, even a goofy unbilled cameo from "SNL" alumnus Jon Lovitz can't help much.
That shouldn't stop Spade fans from enjoying his one golden moment, prancing across a stage gesticulating and posing as we thought only the "Cracklin' Rosie" guy could. See it on the small screen, where the Diamond routine and its player belong.