There’s no fool like a fool who spends money to watch “Fool’s Gold”, the new film starring Matthew McConaughey-hey and Kate Hudson.
I know, I know. That makes me a fool, a title I richly deserve. Considering the stupendous success of their last screen outing (the only marginally better “How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days”), I was hard pressed to come up with any reason to go to see “Fool’s Gold”. Boredom and the faint hope this film couldn’t possibly be worse than “10 Days” played against my better judgment. I should listen to my better judgment next time and save myself two hours and $10.
Tess (Hudson) and Ben (McConaughey) are in the process of getting a divorce. Tess works for a lonely billionaire, Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland) on his yacht as they cruise the Caribbean. Ben is working with his buddy, Alfonz (Ewan Bremner) trying to find the lost treasure of the Aurelia, a Spanish ship carrying a new Queen’s dowry when it was sunk by a hurricane in the 18th Century. This has been the main thrust of Tess and Ben’s life together and she is sick of the constant goose chases and wants the divorce. Ben turns to Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart), a rapper who now owns the island they suspect harbors the treasure. He also carries a pet rabbit around and makes his own rum, while waving a gun around. His two henchmen, Cordell (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) and Curtis (Brian Hooks) are sent to dispatch Ben when he fails to come up with anything to pay back Bigg Bunny’s loan. Ben barely makes the divorce proceedings and manages to convince Tess that he has found something and they enlist Nigel, his Paris-Hilton-esque daughter Gemma (Alexis Dziena) and their former boss and now foe, Moe Fitch (Ray Winstone) to help them hunt for the treasure. But of course, Bigg Bunny wants his share and doesn’t care if he has to kill people to get it.
Directed by Andy Tennant, who, as the trailers for this film proudly state, directed “Hitch”, a marginally better film, “Fool’s Gold” isn’t funny, exciting, adventurous, or romantic. Unfortunately, it wants to be all of these things and it doesn’t succeed on any level, so it is a pretty dismal failure.
McConaughey must have had a clause inserted in his contract requiring the filmmakers to find any excuse for him to take off his shirt. He is bare-chested a remarkable amount of the time making his character seem even more unnatural than he already is. He’s a good looking guy, but nobody walks around bare-chested that much. Even people on vacation in the tropics. Is Ben on vacation or is he searching for treasure? It’s difficult to tell.
Early on, it becomes apparent that he is really more interested in rekindling the relationship with Tess because he feels she can help him find the treasure. After they leave the court room, the first words out of his mouth are “I found something, Tess.” He doesn’t seem interested in finding out how she is doing, what she has been up to, how she is faring in the lead up to their divorce. Tess walks away, but a chance encounter with Gemma brings them together again after the young heiress invites him to join them on daddy’s yacht.
As the story progresses, and Tess and Ben face various obstacles (these two aren’t very intelligent, and obstacles to them wouldn’t put many other people out much) they do seem to care about each other, but this definitely comes across as more of a friendship.
As with her performance in “10 Days”, Hudson seems to be the ‘straight man’ of this duo, designed, and charged with trying to maintain any semblance to reality. She seems to care about their relationship, and clearly misses whatever the relationship provided Tess with. Adventure, great sex, both are discussed, but we don’t really see either, so who knows. Then, when she becomes convinced Ben may have actually found something, all pretense to create a romance is thrown out the window. They are searching for treasure. Their greed overtakes everything else.
Looking beyond the problems with the relationship between McConaughey and Hudson’s characters, it is almost shocking how poorly the rest of the film is constructed.
As soon as Ray Winstone appears on screen, he is painted as a rival of Ben and Tess. Ben and Tess tell Nigel about their previous adventures with Moe, another example of the filmmakers telling us about something we should really be seeing with out own eyes. If we actually watched this happen, it would be infinitely more interesting than watching two people talk about it. After a lengthy amount of screen time devoted to setting up Ben and Tess, we return to Moe and his crew and suddenly he seems to be working in concert with the beautiful couple. I must have blinked my eyes and missed the scene developing this plot twist.
Worse, as soon as Winstone speaks, he betrays his British roots. Many British actors have portrayed Southerners before, most with ease, making people comment how easy it is for the British to play people from Louisiana, Texas, Georgia and the like. Winstone has difficulty with this. He is supposed to be from Louisiana, yet his accent keeps slipping back and forth between his native tongue and his less native pretend accent.
Perhaps even worse, Winstone is shown onscreen bare-chested a great deal as well, almost as much as McConaughey-hey. It quickly becomes apparent why he needed a body double for his character in “Beowulf”. My guess is a portrayal of Beowulf with a pot belly would be les than interesting.
Donald Sutherland, usually pretty dependable in any film or television project, also has difficulty with his accent. Initially, I thought he was supposed to be British, but then it occurred to me he Honeycutt is modeled after Rupert Murdoch. He is supposed to be Australian. No, doesn’t work.
And his main involvement in the film appears to be reconciliation with his party-girl, heiress daughter, Gemma. This leads to many ‘heartfelt’ moments like when she realizes he named the yacht after her, but doesn’t believe it was a conscious decision. This is yet another example of what the filmmakers consider to be comedy. She’s dumb. Get it. She’s a dumb heiress. Har-har. It would be difficult for anyone to love Gemma, but Sutherland puts a game face on the character.
Gemma is very dumb, so dumb it is difficult to take her the slightest bit serious. Anytime you have a character who is so completely something, sexy, dumb, funny, intelligent, it is important to show they have a little of the opposite to make them seem real. No one is completely one thing, so we need to see a little of the other to make them seem human. There are many characters throughout film history who were created to provide a laugh, or a scare, or a titillating moment, but the most successful of these also show a little of their opposite. Gemma is simply dumb and Alexis Dziena does a good job of making us believe this, but because there is no other facet to this character, she instantly becomes forgettable.
Then there is the Bigg Bunny. This character, the rapper, with a ‘posse’, who has a lot of money, power, and wants even more, is such a cliché; the character doesn’t bring anything to the story and is a complete waste. Kevin Hart tries to make him menacing, but this is just more disturbing than anything else. This is supposed to be a comedy, yet these thugs actually kill people. When they kill people, no one seems to care. When they kill one of their own, no one even pauses for a moment, it is so expected, and so racist.
As the story progresses, Bigg Bunny and his henchmen become more reminiscent of the Three Stooges, and bumble their way through the proceedings. Not very original either. You see, the greed is clouding their judgment and making them do stupid things. Yeah, that’s it. That’s why they are stupid. It has nothing to do with the writer and director. Nothing at all.
“Fool’s Gold” is just a stupid, stupid, bad, bad movie. If you spend your money and time on it, consider yourself warned. And maybe I wasn’t the only fool to spend his gold on this waste of celluloid.