Adventurous romance stays afloat, but just barely
By Devin D. O’Leary
Directed by Andy Tennant
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson
Here’s a highly pertinent question regarding the new film Fool’s Gold: What kind of vacation suits you best? Are you the sort of person who goes in for an enriching vacation full of vigorous physical exercise like mountain climbing or surfing? Do you prefer a stimulating break in which you explore the culture and art of a country or region, taking in as many museums, galleries and historical sites as possible? Or do you crave nothing more than a respite from work, abdicating all physical and mental activities for a weekend on a cruise ship where you can park your ass in a lounge chair and have people stuff you full of food and drink? If you fall into the final category, then the breezy, brain-free Fool’s Gold is highly tailored to your tastes.
Looking for all the world like a long-lost sequel to 1984’s Romancing the Stone, this adventurous romantic comedy reunites slacker-stud Matthew McConaughey and Goldie Hawn-spawn Kate Hudson (both from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) as a fight-prone Florida couple still waiting for the ink to dry on their divorce papers. Seems Ben (McConaughey) is a good-for-nothing dreamer who’s wasted his entire life searching for a fortune in sunken treasure. Tess (Hudson), on the other hand, is a serious-minded historian who briefly allowed her academic plans to be derailed by tales of gold doubloons and some really good sex on the beach. Now, after years of disappointment and failure, Tess is cutting her losses and moving back to Chicago.
Her timing is particularly bad, since Ben has just found the final clue to the resting place of a sunken Spanish galleon full of priceless gold and jewels. Turning on the laid-back charm, Ben sweet-talks Kate and her rich employers (Donald Sutherland doing a half-bored British accent and “Invasion” ’s Alexis Dziena limning a painfully accurate portrait of Paris Hilton) into heading down to the Bahamas on a search for sunken treasure.
What follows is a frivolous, sun-tanned adventure designed to reunite our two squabbling lovers. By way of complication, the script throws in a rival treasure hunter (Brit Ray Winstone, taking a job way under his skill level) and an evil rap star to whom Ben owes a bunch of money. (That last one’s a pretty out-of-place addition.) The adventure is slightly less heart-pounding than The Goonies, the romance is extremely drawn-out and the humor barely rises above mild chuckle level. Still, with a few chases and a couple of kisses, it amounts to harmless, mindless date night fun.
Director Andy Tennant (Hitch, Sweet Home Alabama) does his level best, but the lack of A-list charisma radiating from his stars isn’t enough to distract from the patchy script. Exposition is especially tedious, with McConaughey and Hudson expending a good 10 minutes of screentime explaining the complicated backstory of the treasure they’re looking for. “There’s sunken treasure in the Caribbean. Let’s go!” would have been more than sufficient.
If you wanna shut off your brain, gaze at a few tropical beaches (Australia, subbing for the Caribbean) and get your daily fill of shirtless Matthew McConaughey, here’s your opportunity. Sure, Fool’s Gold has all the depth of that tropical screensaver on your work computer. But as long as you know that going in, you might get your money’s worth.
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