Fool’s Gold (2008) dir. Andy Tennant
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, Donald Sutherland, Ray Winstone
It was a good try, but “Fool’s Gold” is a misfire. Andy Tennant's film aspires to be light forgettable entertainment in the classic sense of Hollywood - romance, comedy, adventure, with beautiful people in beautiful locales. Unfortunately, nowadays, mixing these genres rarely works (think “Six Days, Seven Nights”). It requires great skill to suspend the disbelieve of the modern audience and move them around from screwball comedy to island hopping adventure. Audiences either want "Pirates of the Caribbean" or "Hitch" (also directed by Andy Tennant) - "Fool's Gold" wants to be both, but will likely satisfy few.
McConaughey plays Benjamin Finnegan, a treasure hunter who’s been combing the sandbars and coral reefs of the Caribbean for years looking for a booty of lost Spanish treasure. His efforts are spoiled when his boat is inadvertently sunk, rendering him completely penniless and without means of transportation. Meanwhile his wife Tess (Kate Hudson) is about to file divorce papers, thus complicating Ben’s life even further. By coincidence Ben is taken in by a rich aristocrat Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland) who lives and sails his pocket change away on a gigantic yacht – the same yacht Tess works as a waitress on. Ben tells Tess and Nigel of his new discoveries in his hunt for the treasure. Ben's pitch works and together the four of them (including Nigel’s bimbo socialite daughter) evade Ben’s many nemeses and search for the buried treasure.
“Fools Gold” mixes the childish treasure-hunting actions of “National Treasure” with the light as a feather romance of “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”, with a dash of rudimentary slapstick comedy. The genre mixing is like oil and water. The filmmakers and the proven comic team should have stuck with the romcom and done away with the action. It seems like the worst attempt to please all audiences while satisfying none.
McConaughey and Hudson are easy on the eyes and they perform reasonably well as the leads. But Andy Tennant wastes the fine talents of a great team of character actors. Ray Winstone is a rival treasure hunter who masks his London working class drole with a useless southern accent, Ewen Bremner, that quirky Scotsman, puts on a Russian accent (why?) and Donald Sutherland, who is usually class personified, is given on a pathetic British accent.
And poor Donald... much of his screen time is spent playing off of Alexis Dziena's drab Paris Hilton impression as Honeycut's spoiled daughter, Gemma. Gemma tags along and desires only to spend her father's money, but of course, the two become closer because of the adventure and learn valuable lessons about each other.
One scene encapsulates the entire film - the lengthy history of the Spanish treasure which McConaughey explains to a confounded and sleepy Donald Sutherland midway through the film. McConaughey's story goes on for five or ten minutes of undisguised exposition in one long continuous speech. Consider it a bedtime story and take a snooze.
"Fool's Gold" is available in DVD June 17 from Warner Home Video
Here's some other related reviews:
National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End