FOOL’S GOLD takes a radical approach to its genre. It is an adventure without thrills, a comedy without laughs, romance without heat, and a family drama without heart. A sublimely ironic deconstruction of cinematic conventions? If only. What we have here is filmmaking that is forced, flimsy and flaky. At best.
Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson are Finn and Tess, the would-be romantic duo. Hudson, for a moment here and there, recalls the promise she showed with her performance in ALMOST FAMOUS. McConaughey, with his vacant stare and laid-back smile recalls nothing of the kind. Rather, his good-natured, clueless doofus schtick becomes tiresome 10 minutes into the flick, whereupon it becomes increasingly irritating.
The story, such as it is, has the twosome squabbling over a divorce that she wants over his irresponsible ways, and getting involved with a treasure hunt in the Bahamas. All the better to show off McConaughey’s wiry but taut frame, and Hudson’s lovely form. The script fetches far in getting all the protagonists in one place, dragging in for good measure an eccentric millionaire, played by an unflappable Donald Sutherland, and his ditzy, semi-dressed daughter, played as just so much pixilation by Alexis Dziena. There are also a villain played with, considering the material, an admirable sort of boredom by Kevin Hart as the rapper and rum-maker Bigg Bunny, as well as the two gay cooks in the galley of the millionaire’s yacht, who are not so much a campy diversion as a pale stereotype. As for Ray Winstone playing the treasure-hunter emeritus of the Florida Keys, it is never explained why his accent is such a bracing, and distracting, mix of Brit and redneck. Thank heavens he doesn’t have anything interesting or helpful to say, since pondering the way the words are pronounced pretty much precludes actually paying attention to what words in particular are pronounced.
Many things happen in the course of the alost two hours or so that are to be endured. Few, if any, are worth noting. Perhaps Sutherland, good soldier that he is, sporting in a Jacuzzi as his character attempts to learn scuba diving. Perhaps the sometimes lovely underwater photography. Perhaps the way characters can remain in that lovely underwater without oxygen in a way that shows a complete disregard of the limits inherent in human lung physiology. Perhaps the desperate attempt, which fails, to mine the phrase “cock the gun” for a double-entendre. Perhaps the way Finn keeps taking serious blows to the head without any ill effects beyond a superficial cut. Then again, they are >head< blows.
FOOL’S GOLD is awkwardly conceived, badly written, lamely plotted, and uncertainly directed. It’s always a dicey business to pin a film’s success on the charisma of its leads, hoping that the glamour will overcome any shortcomings, much less ones of this magnitude. In this case, it wasn’t so much an act of faith, as a lapse of judgment on a par with the Trojans pulling the horse within their gates.