By Owen Gleiberman
Updated April 30, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Who’s the whitest pop singer you’ve ever seen? Donny Osmond? Juice Newton? Here’s a candidate: David Spade in Lost and Found doing his open-shirted, lip-thrusting, irresistibly ”lowdown” parody of Neil Diamond singing ”Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.” To say that Spade doesn’t have soul is an understatement. I mean, really — the man barely has cheeks. Did God make him that thin, or did he undergo some bizarre liposuction procedure that siphoned away most of his flesh, along with any last vestiges of human feeling? David Spade is the Cheshire Cat of sarcastic nonchalance: All there is to him is grin and attitude. Ballsy and persnickety at the same time, he’s a true original — the first frat-boy bitch — and when he’s working with the right material, he can be hilarious in his singsong misanthropic glee. Offhand, it would be difficult to imagine material more wrong for him than Lost and Found (even though he cowrote it himself).

It’s a dicey proposition to cast Spade in a romantic comedy, since he stares out of those reptilian slits with one purpose only: to survey the effect he’s having on you. In Lost and Found, when he fixes his gaze on Sophie Marceau, as the sweetly sexy French cellist who lives in his apartment complex, it’s grotesque. You don’t want them to get together — you want to protect her from this elfin goblin.

The movie keeps them apart, all right. Most of it follows the dim spectacle of Spade trying to score some quality time with Marceau by kidnapping her pet pooch, so that he can then help her find it. Yes, it’s that kind of movie: a man-and-his-dog buddy farce, complete with poop jokes and the inevitable scene in which the animal gets thrown into a dryer. The only time that Spade truly connects, apart from his Neil Diamond roilings, is when he makes xenophobic cracks at Marceau’s pompous Gallic suitor (”At least I don’t have to stop in the middle of a lame cutdown to go, ‘How you say…?”’). Most embarrassing is that the movie actually stoops to providing Spade with a blustery fat sidekick (Artie Lang), who, I guess, is meant to evoke a certain previous partner. Somewhere, Chris Farley is rolling over, and over… D+