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Overall Rating
2

Awesome: 4.55%
Worth A Look: 13.64%
Average: 4.55%
Pretty Bad: 31.82%
Total Crap45.45%

2 reviews, 10 user ratings


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Fool's Gold
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by Peter Sobczynski

"How To Lose An Audience's Interest In 110 Minutes"
1 stars

“Fool’s Gold” is an enormously appealing romantic comedy that will no doubt charm and delight anyone who sees it. Wait, let me clarify that statement a bit. If your idea of a good time at the movies is to spend two hours and $10 watching a couple of highly paid movie stars showing off their beach bodies and demonstrating zero chemistry while sleepwalking through a script chock-full of pathetic stabs at comedy, meandering subplots, thrill-free chase scenes, surprisingly gruesome levels of on-screen violence, retrograde racist stereotypes and a cast of characters who are so stupid that their collective IQ would barely make it into the double digits, then “Fool’s Gold” is an enormously appealing romantic comedy that will no doubt charm and delight anyone who sees it. For the rest of us, the film is a mind-numbing slog that is so devoid of any trace elements of wit or style that it is easily the least entertaining film opening locally this weekend and bear in mind that this particular weekend also sees the opening of a film about a couple of Romanian woman trying to procure an illegal abortion, a documentary about government-sponsored torture and the latest Paris Hilton joint. Granted, I haven’t actually seen the Paris Hilton film yet but I am still inclined to give it a pass over “Fool’s Gold” because, unlike the Hilton extravaganza, “Fool’s Gold” features people who have actually done good movies before, will no doubt do good movies again and who should have immediately run screaming for the hills the minute that this screenplay turned up in their to-read pile.

In a surprising case of against-the-grain casting, Matthew McConaughey stars as Finn, an amiable goofball who seemingly coasts through life with nothing more to offer than his considerable charm and the shirt that is frequently off his back. Finn is a treasure hunter based off of the Florida coast who is obsessed with discovering the wreckage of a Spanish galleon that disappeared nearly 300 years ago with a cargo containing millions in gold, diamonds and emeralds. Through a combination of irresponsibility and his single-minded pursuit of the treasure, Finn runs afoul of bloodthirsty rapper/gangster Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart) and his henchmen (Malcolm Jamal Warner and Brian Hooks), loses his boat in a wacky accident that simultaneously yields proof of the buried booty and loses his long-suffering wife, Tess (Kate Hudson), who has finally decided to divorce him because of his refusal to grow up. She wants to leave him behind and go back to graduate school, which she plans on financing by selling the boat that she won in the divorce. Considering the condition of the boat, I can only presume that she was either a.) planning on going to a really bad graduate school or b.) planning on sinking the boat herself for the insurance money. The fact that I was sitting in the screening room trying to appraise the value of a boat should give you an indication of just how powerfully interesting the rest of the film is.

Through circumstances too contrived to go into, Finn and Tess both find themselves aboard the yacht owned by benevolent billionaire Nigel Hunnicutt (Donald Sutherland) and when they explain the history behind the treasure and their belief that it is located nearby, he decides to fund their retrieval efforts, mostly as a way to alleviate the boredom of his spoiled and stupid celebutante daughter, Sophie (Alexis Dziena). Alas, it turns out that Big Bunny is now on the trail of the riches as well and has hired local salvage expert Moe Fitch (Ray Winstone), the man who first introduced Finn to treasure hunting until the two had a barely-explained falling-out, to assist in his efforts. From then on, the story devolves into an endless chase in which Finn and Tess keep discovering new locations for where the treasure must be hidden while the bad guys manage to pop up out of nowhere to threaten our heroes and knock Finn upside the head before a bizarre final act that may remind some viewers of “Into the Blue” in the way that it suddenly shifts into an ultraviolent mode that is completely at odds with the other goings-on.

Last week, I wrote a review of “The Eye” in which I suggested that the film reminded me of a dead light bulb. Alas, “Fool’s Gold” only wishes that it could possibly aspire to such lofty heights–it more closely resembles the dead moths that you sometimes find in the lighting fixture when you are changing that dead bulb. This film isn’t just bad–it is creatively bankrupt in every possible way, shape or form. It was co-written by the authors of “Anaconda: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid” (John Claflin & Daniel Zelman) and the director of “Hitch,” “Sweet Home Alabama” and the Drew Barrymore version of the Amy Fisher story (Andy Tennant, who also directed) and even by those less-than-robust standards, they are playing well below their respective high-water marks. There isn’t a single scene in here that doesn’t involve a painfully overused cliche or two–this is a screenplay that still thinks that there is humor to be mined from such tired concepts as dumb heiresses, foreign-sounding sidekicks and a gay best pal for the heroine (she actually gets two gay pals here–there must have been a fire sale in the Hack Screenplay section at Home Depot)–and when they aren’t dominating the proceedings, we are inundated with useless subplots (the weird conflict that develops between the billionaire and his daughter that exists for reason that I can think of), threads of subplots that might have achieved full uselessness if they hadn’t been abandoned as soon as they were introduced (the conflict between Finn and Moe and the blossoming romance between the heiress and the wacky foreign sidekick played by Ewen Bremmer) and recurring jokes that aren’t funny the first time and grow progressively less amusing the more times they are deployed. (For some inexplicable reason, Tess constantly makes vague reference to how great Finn was in the sack and then immediately tells people that she doesn’t want to talk about it–why bring it up in the first place then, you little tease?) The only unexpected twist to the proceedings is the strange level of gory violence that is laced throughout for reasons I couldn’t begin to explain–beyond a running gag in which Finn is always getting conked on the head for one reason or another, we get to see people shot in the foot and ear, another gets harpooned in the thigh and, in the grisliest bit, one meets a demise that pretty much reduces him to a bloody mist in a moment that seems to have been spliced in from an early Peter Jackson extravaganza. My guess is that these gory bits were included to appease guys who would be sitting through the film on a date–if that is the case, it is a failure because it isn’t nearly bloody enough to spark their interest but it is icky enough to horrify those who go to simple-minded romantic comedy precisely to avoid seeing blood and guts.

These serious narrative flaws must have been apparent to anyone who glimpsed at the screenplay during its early stages and I can only assume that all concerned figured that audiences would be so blown away by the on-screen chemistry between the two stars that they would be willing to overlook such problems. In theory, that isn’t necessarily a bad idea (there have been plenty of bad romantic screenplays over the years that have been saved by good chemistry) but it doesn’t work here because of one simple problem–McConaughey and Hudson demonstrate absolutely no discernible on-screen chemistry together here. Yes, the two are enormously likable and each one has shown themselves to possess considerable talent in some of their previous efforts–McConaughey has turned in finely nuanced work in such films as “Dazed and Confused,” “Frailty” and “13 Conversations About One Thing” while Hudson’s turn as Penny Lane in “Almost Famous” remains one of the great performances of the decade–but they strike zero sparks together her. Oh, they try their damndest to convince us otherwise but they strain so hard to demonstrate their allegedly irresistible attraction to each other that all we can see is the effort that they are putting in to do something that should seem effortless. They aren’t funny, they aren’t cute and even though both are incredibly attractive people, they aren’t even especially sexy. To be fair, the rest of the actors flounder around just as badly here with the material they have been given–the only one who retains even trace amounts of dignity is Donald Sutherland and that is because he seems to have realized early on that he was in a dog and decided that the best way to go about it was simply hold his nose and dive right in.

Look, there is only one reason why a film like “Fool’s Gold” got made in the first place–the previous on-screen teaming of Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, “How To Lose a Guy in 10 Dates,” made tons of money despite the fact that there is not a single recorded case of anyone who contributed to its box-office gross actually liking it. You would think that if the two were going to team up for another film, they might wait for some stronger material on the assumption that if they made X amount of dollars with a piece of junk, they could probably do even better with something halfway decent. Based on the evidence here, it appears that they decided to do the complete opposite and make something even worse on the assumption that is people paid good money to see something that was terrible, they would pay even more to see something really terrible. Unfortunately, this will probably wind up doing well at the box-office–there always seems to be a market for junk like this–and they will no doubt join forces again sometime down the road for a third effort. My hope is that this third project turns out to be a documentary in which the two are strapped down and forced to watch “Fool’s Gold” from beginning to end–it might not sound like much from a dramatic perspective but for anyone who finds themselves sitting through this mess, the sight of those who perpetrated it being forced to watch the grim results of their barely-there efforts will no doubt prove to be quite satisfying indeed.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=16875&reviewer=389
originally posted: 02/08/08 16:00:00
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User Comments

5/25/09 PKripper The FBI warning was the best part by far 1 stars
11/22/08 Shaun Wallner This movie was stupid! 1 stars
10/24/08 Farnsy I dont know what the hell the fuss was about! I saw that movie. It ruled! 5 stars
9/03/08 Alexandru Totir Not the best, but it will do for a date with your loved one. 4 stars
7/06/08 PAUL SHORTT AN UNFUNNY AND OVERLONG SEA ROMP 1 stars
6/22/08 Monday Morning Almost all of MM's movies have been an insult to our intelligence. Here's one more. 1 stars
2/17/08 ceredo eye candy for the bored.. 3 stars
2/14/08 Ming uninteresting movie....The acting seem flat.. 2 stars
2/11/08 katie Loved this romp 4 stars
2/11/08 debdahlin like Kate Hudson 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  08-Feb-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 17-Jun-2008

UK
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Australia
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