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With: Linda Cardellini, Ursula Parker, Skeet Ulrich, Craig Robinson, Kristen Schaal, Jon Daly, Jaime Pressly, Patrick Warburton, Chris Parnell, Matt Jones
Written by: Will Raée, Brenna Graziano
Directed by: Will Raée
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 95
Date: 07/07/2017

Austin Found (2017)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Just Kidnapping

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Packed with a team of talented comedy stars, this misfire is not only unfunny, but it doesn't seem like it was ever supposed to be; it wanders, lost between a serious crime drama and a biteless satire.

In Austin Found, former beauty pageant queen Leanne (Linda Cardellini) is now a Texas mom, obsessively entering her own 11 year-old daughter Patty (Ursula Parker) in a new series of competitions. Unfortunately, Patty's dance and voice classes are depleting the family bank account, and so Leanne gets a wicked idea.

She reconnects with an old boyfriend, Billy (Skeet Ulrich), and concocts a fake kidnapping scheme. Billy's pal, J.T. (Craig Robinson), agrees to watch the girl for several weeks, and as the search commences, the two hit it off, bonding over video games and a shared love of music. Unfortunately, Billy comes unhinged and begins acting erratically, and a local TV news reporter (Kristen Schaal) senses that something's amiss.

Though Cardellini is a terrific and underrated performer, she can't generate much sympathy or interest in her bitter, selfish character. She's supposed to be a metaphor for media-obsessed Americans, but the movie doesn't dig any deeper than that label. Even a solid pratfall can't generate any laughs.

The fake kidnapping plot is really just dumb, and not terribly original, and the filmmakers have lazily ignored all the logistics of a story that takes place over a month's time. Can the police really find no clues? Hasn't Patty changed her pajamas in four weeks?

At least Robinson's scenes with young Parker are sweet, and Jaime Pressly and Patrick Warburton earn a few giggles in very small roles. However, the filmmakers leave no clue as to what they were trying to say or what they thought was funny; Austin Found is as misguided as they come.

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