'Pushing Tin' is dented; 'Lost & Found' just lost

Pushing Tin takes its title from the lingo of air-traffic controllers, who say you're "pushing tin" if you hustle planes into the airport as quickly and steadily as possible. The movie's premise is that air-traffic controllers aren't calm computer jockeys but a wise-cracking gang of suburban rednecks, fond of smarmy jokes, romantic rivalries, and outright brawls from time to time.

The hero is a tin-pusher named Nick, who thinks he's the king of his control tower until he meets Russell, a loner with a reputation for nervy behavior. Nick tries to befriend his new colleague, but it's a tricky task even before he gets involved with Russell's wife. This infuriates his own spouse with consequences touching everyone around, including the passengers in the airplanes overhead.

"Pushing Tin" bids for originality by focusing on an offbeat profession. Every other aspect is pretty stale, though, from the smart-alecky characters to the romantic-triangle plot. A cast with so much appeal - including John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, and Angelina Jolie - deserves more appealing material to work with.

Still, "Pushing Tin" is jet-propelled fun compared with Lost & Found, a dopey and demeaning comedy with David Spade as a lovelorn Californian who kidnaps a neighbor's dog as a way of getting her attention. The movie plays like a tedious variation on the canine shenanigans of "There's Something About Mary," with touches of "Bringing Up Baby" thrown in. But its desperate vulgarity is no match for the former's shaggy irreverence or the latter's classic wit. Sophie Marceau's sleek charm keeps it from being a total loss. But it comes very, very close.

*'Pushing Tin,' rated R, contains sex, nudity, and foul language. 'Lost & Found,' rated PG-13, contains sexual innuendo and strong scatological humor.

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