Fool's Gold

(2008) ** Pg-13
113 min. Warner Brothers Pictures. Director: Andrew Tennant. Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, Roger Sciberras, Donald Sutherland, Ewen Bremner.

Whenever a very familiar actor shows up doing an overripe accent, something is rotten in Cinemark (or AMC or what have you). In Andy Tennant's Fool's Gold, this phenomenon is multiplied. Not only do we get Donald Sutherland affecting plummy British tones, but we get a Jamaican Malcolm Jamal-Warner, a Ukrainian Ewen Bremner, and a Southern-American Ray Winstone. It's as if the actors asked for some comic inspiration, and Tennant told everyone the same thing: "Just do a funny accent." Now, I don't actually begrudge an actor for having fun with accents—even at the scale of some kind of on-set competition to which I'm not privy—but I do draw the line at bad movies, and the frothy Fool's Gold is dangerously close to lousy.

The script, credited to Tennant and the screenwriting team of John Claflin & Daniel Zelman (Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid), kicks off with a surprisingly engaging screwball spirit. Matthew McConaughey plays Ben "Finn" Finnegan, a scrappy treasure hunter intent on finding, off the Florida coast, the sunken booty of the 1715 Spanish fleet. Unfortunately, he's in debt to rapper-investor-homicidal criminal BiggBunny (Kevin Hart), who tries to kill Finn on the occasion of the treasure being pinpointed.

Finn's latest turns of luck coincide with his scheduled divorce of wife Tess (Kate Hudson, McConaughey's How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days costar), whose exasperation at Finn's irresponsibility is mitigated by the great sex and the renewed promise of treasure. Is it, then, a double entendre when Tess exclaims, "I can't believe you would dangle this in front of me!"? The couple's mutual eight years of searching may finally pay off, especially when Finn sparks the interest of Tess' boss, the idle-rich yachtsman Nigel Honeycutt (Sutherland). Honeycutt has just welcomed onto his ship his daughter Gemma (Alexis Dziena), a dim, spoiled princess clearly designed to resemble Paris Hilton. The film's oddest choice—no doubt to please Sutherland—is to give some dramatic weight to this strained father-daughter relationship.

The time and effort would be better spent on serving the film's leads. Fool's Gold relies too heavily on its hook of luxury vacation added to an adventure plot. The film looks like one of those color-corrected travel brochures, and McConaughey becomes part of the scenery: he's made to parade around bare-chested and barefoot for much of the picture (Hudson has her moments, too, looking fetching in her bikini). It's a shame that the likeable leads don't get more support from the script, as they work hard to deliver genuinely funny comic performances. The film's early promise settles into a boring predictability. Aside from Bremner's response to being called the "Ukrainian sidekick" ("I don't think of myself that way. I am the lead character in my own story"), Fool's Gold turns out to be harmless but seriously wit-deficient.

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Aspect ratios: 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Number of discs: 1

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1

Street date: 6/17/2008

Distributor: Warner Home Video

The blue waters, sunny blue sky, and tanned bodies of Fool's Gold light up as expected in the crispness of Blu-Ray high definition, which also brings home the film's surround soundtrack. The not-so-special edition on Blu-Ray and DVD offers only a pair of brief bonus features. The first is the EPK-style featurette "Flirting with Adventure" (4:36). The focus falls squarely on the chemistry of Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey; participants include Hudson, McConaughey, director Andy Tennant, producer Donald De Line, and stunt coordinator R.A. Rondell. Lastly, we get a "Gag Reel" (2:46) that's a hybrid of behind-the-scenes glimpses and sort-of "bloopers" caught on B-roll.

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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