Warner Bros. // 2008 // 112 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // June 17th, 2008
A thrilling treasure hunt. Romantic intrigue. Exotic locales. Is this any way to save a divorce?
Finn: I'm so lovable. Let me take my shirt off.
Tess: I hate you! I hate you! I hate y...hey, did you just take your shirt off?
Finn: Yes I did.
Tess: You're so sexy.
Finn: Yes I am.
Tess: I love you.
Finn: Yes you do.
Tess: Have you found any treasure?
Tess: Ugh...now I remember why I hate you!
Finn: Hmm...let me rub some oil on myself.
Tess: Geez, I don't know why...hey, you look sexy. I love you.
Finn: Yes you do.
Tess: Can we go find some treasure?
-- Loosely paraphrased dialogue from various conversations
Finn (Matthew McConaughey, Sahara) is an irresponsible surfer dude who never had a "real" job in his life. Tess (Kate Hudson, You, Me, and Dupree) is an intelligent and responsible woman who wants a respectable future. For reasons that should be obvious by this point, these two are getting divorced. However, they are slowly but surely being brought back together by the very thing that united them to begin with: treasure. Both have a love for treasure hunting, and they may be on the brink of discovering something huge. If Finn can manage to elude some angry mobsters...and if the pair can stop fighting long enough to accomplish a thing or two...they may be in for the greatest discovery of their lives!
I have to admit, I fully expected to hate every second of Fool's Gold. I was subjected to television promos and theatrical trailers for the film over and over, and it looked less promising each time. There are few actors that I am less interested in than Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson. It looked like the plot would be a horrible blend of bad rom-com clichés and the National Treasure movies. However, I have now actually seen Fool's Gold, and let me tell you...well, pretty much all of my fears were confirmed. Despite that, I didn't hate every second of the movie. Odd, huh? Anyway, I'll get to the things that made this movie bearable in just a moment. For now, permit me to harp on the flaws.
Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson have absolutely no chemistry together. You may be wondering, "How can that be? They were so wonderful together in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days!" If that is indeed what is going through your head, you should just ignore everything I say and buy the DVD. I didn't think they had any chemistry in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, either. Of course, chemistry has very little to do with anything in romantic comedies these days.
It's all about test screenings and demographic marketing and which tabloid pair can pack the largest portion of the tabloid-reading public into the theatres. Come to think of it, Fool's Gold doesn't even feel like a movie as much as it feels like an excuse to put the film's stars on magazine covers for a month. "Matthew McC. discusses sports cars, his stamp collection, and his new movie!" "Kate Hudson talks love, life, stress tips, and whether Matthew McC. is a good kisser!"
Anyway, I suppose I'm rambling. My point is, these two stars aren't capable of driving this star vehicle. Hudson does everything she can to make her character simultaneously strong, vulnerable, lovable, bitter, sweet, smart, and loopy. Is it any wonder she seems a bit unconvincing? Meanwhile, McConaughey offers nothing more than his trademark drawl and plenty of shirtless scenes. These worst scenes of the film are the frequent arguments between McConaghey and Hudson. Watching these awkward and unfunny moments is enough to make any self-respecting movie fan get on their knees and beg for the wit of Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn to return to the world of cinema.
Strangely, the movie doesn't work as a romantic comedy or as an action adventure. It seems that the former is always getting in the way of the latter, or vice versa. The movie is shot in the style of a rom-com: breezy, light, pleasant, never remotely threatening. This causes a strange disconnect during the scenes when things are blowing up or people are getting shot. The plot is thin and predictable. Ten minutes into the film, the average viewer will be able to predict everything that is going to happen.
The film looks nice enough, and emphasizes all of the lovely locations and crystal-clear waters in a warm and pleasing manner. The movie reminded me of the so-so thriller After the Sunset in the way it takes so much time just soaking in the location. Frankly, the Caribbean acts the pants off of the stars of the film. The sound design is good, spotlighting George Fenton's enjoyably flavorful score impressively. DVD extras are pretty minimal, limited to a gag reel and a featurette...um...about the chemistry of the two stars. By the way, what kind of title have they given that featurette? "Fool's Gold: Flirting With Adventure -- The Chemistry Between Two Charming Contemporary Stars." What's wrong with "The Making of Fool's Gold"?
I actually laughed on a semi-regular basis during the film thanks to the performances of three individuals. First of all there's Donald Sutherland, offering one of the most amusingly unconvincing English accents I have ever heard. Then there's Ray Winstone, offering one of the most amusingly unconvincing southern accents I have ever heard. These two take perfectly ordinary dialogue and turn it into comic gold with their oddball delivery. Finally, the film finds a new gem in Alexis Dziena, playing Sutherland's daughter. Her turn here is the equal of Isla Fisher's breakout role in The Wedding Crashers, stealing attention from anyone else onscreen at the same time. She offers a level of enthusiasm for this ho-hum material that the movie simply doesn't deserve.
The film is watchable. What, you want more? That's all I've got. It's watchable. However, it's also a complete waste of time, and doesn't really offer enough entertainment to justify taking 112 minutes of your time. It's certainly nothing that should cause those who typically avoid this sort of thing to make an exception.
Review content copyright © 2008 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 112 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* "Fool's Gold: Flirting with Adventure--The Chemistry Between Two Charming Contemporary Stars"
* Gag Reel
* Official Site