Review: Fool's Gold
PLOT: Finn is a well-meaning treasure hunter who has spent many years searching for a legendary treasure lost at sea in 1715. His soon to be ex-wife Tess, has finally given up on him as he always seems to thing of the treasure before the marriage. But when he finds a vital clue as to the treasure’s whereabouts, he is able to get back in her life through her current boss, Nigel. When Nigel and his debutante daughter Gemma hear Finn’s story, they decide to help them out and go treasure hunting. But they are running out of time as notorious rap star/gangster Bigg Bunny and an old mentor of Finn named Moe Fitch are all trying to get to the millions first.
It would be terribly easy to dismiss FOOL’S GOLD as a predictable and flat romantic-action-comedy, not necessarily in that order. Yep, it would be really easy, except for the fact that it ain’t all that bad. Even with a silly story about a newly divorced couple of treasure hunters who find themselves searching for the granddaddy of all treasures, a legendary 18th century Dowry. It is 40 chests of diamonds, jewels and all sorts of other pricey stuff that was lost at sea back in 1715. Both Ben “Finn” Finnegan (Matthew McConaughey) and Tess (Kate Hudson) have spent many years searching in hopes that the legend was true. For much of the first half of the film, Finn tries to get Tess back. He is able to talk both her and the man she works for, Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland), into sponsoring a search for the precious gems. And lucky for Finn, he was able to rescue Nigel’s Paris Hilton-esque daughter Gemma’s (Alexis Dziena) hat from a certain fate. It’s all ridiculous and absurd, yet still entertaining.
It starts off well enough with a little intrigue and fun while Finn is on a typical hunt. His partner in crime Alfonz (Ewen Bremner) and hin get lucky when he finds a plate that might very well belong to the treasure. But within minutes, Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart) wants him dead because of a debt that he can’t repay and a fire that leaves Finn‘s boat, and Bunny‘s equipment, at the bottom of the sea. This all leads to a search for a dowry long lost at sea. There are a couple other players that are watching Finns every move. First is the previously mentioned gangster/rap star Bunny who apparently needs more than he already has, and he also happens to own the island which may or may not have the precious cargo in question. And to make matters worse, Finn’s old mentor, a crusty old man by the name of Moe Fitch (Ray Winstone) wants a piece of that pie for himself.
In fact, Fool’s Gold is so convoluted that if you try and get too involved in the plot, you might as well go see something a little deeper. In one tedious scene, Finn and Tess explain to her boss about the missing treasure, and their search for it. It is their attempt to convince him to help them on their quest. Thankfully, his moronic daughter thinks it might be cool. Which is just what the unhappy couple need, Nigel and Gemma offer their boat and money to go along for the ride. The father and daughter even discover a little something about their own relationship. Is it cheesy? Hell yes. But I really liked Sutherland’s work here. He is able to bring a little heart to some of the far-fetched situations at hand.
But the real reason that, in the end, Fool’s Gold works, is because of McConaughey and Hudson. The two seem to have a terrific on-screen relationship. Obviously, they had a hit a few years ago with HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS, so why not pair them up again? And they do work very well together. No matter how clichéd the script gets, they have a connection that is a pleasure to watch. And of course, what is a Matthew McConaughey flick without a drinking game? You know the one, every time this dude takes off his shirt, take a drink. I guarantee you will be wasted by the end, especially if you double up for his dark and brief butt shot. Sadly for the guys, Kate rarely dons a bikini. But don’t worry, it does happen. Together, these two have a strong connection. Bikini or not, they are on fire together and make many of the ludicrous situations palatable.
I was really on the fence during this film as to my thoughts on it though. Yes, there is chemistry between the leads, but the story takes quite a long time to really get going. I could have done with much less of the first act. It moves slowly with little hints of something special sprinkled throughout. But in the final stretch, somehow this manages to offer up an energetic finale that makes up for the surprisingly low action throughout the first part of the film. It is fun watching all the players come together and battle it out. But is it just me…how come the real baddies here are African American? The whole “thug life” seemed to be a bit racist. I doubt that director Andy Tennant and screenwriter, Daniel Zelman had that intention, but still, even most of the bad guys that are white seem to finally end up helping our heroes.
I also had a few problems with the Honeycutt brat. Yep, I’m talking about that Paris Hilton character Gemma. This is a lame and uninteresting addition to the story. It’s hard to root for the dumb girl who occasionally slips in a smart idea. Dziena is fine in the role and offers up a couple of laughs, but I really didn’t like this character. It seemed like it cheapened the film even more. But still, I had a decent time with this. Two funny and charismatic leads and a couple of fun turns from Sutherland and Winstone made for a passable popcorn flick. If you have the patience to stick it out until the last half, you might even have a good time and not feel too foolish about it. My rating 5/10 -- JimmyO