February 9, 2008

Movie Review: Fool's Gold

Finally, we have the return team up that first matched wits in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey. Wait a minute. Has anyone actually been waiting for these two to be reunited? I am sure there are a few, and there really isn't anything wrong with them. The problem is not so much them or their presence, it is the fact that the story is terrible and never takes off and does anything. It is another one of those cases where the pitch meeting sounded great and the executives all jumped on board, only to discover when putting said concept into practice, there was very little to tell. The end result is a film overburdened by an overabundance of subplots and a lack of narrative cohesion. It isn't awful, per se, but it is most definitely forgettable.

It is that time of year again; with Valentine's Day right around the corner the theaters will be welcoming a plethora of romantically themed films. We have already had a couple with 27 Dresses and Over Her Dead Body. The latest is Fool's Gold. This time out, rather than add in supernatural or wedding obsessed elements, they toss in a little action/adventure (and I mean little). The combination of the love/hate romantic element, with the dissolved marriage angle, and the introduction of adventure, with the treasure hunting thread, makes the movie come across as the child of You Me and Dupree and Sahara. However, it has none of the meager charms of the former while containing none of the entertaining Indiana Jones-lite adventure of the latter.

As the movie opens, Benjamin Finnegan (McConaughey), Finn to his friends, is off a small island in the Florida Keys with his partner, Alfonz (Ewen Bremner). They are on the ocean floor looking for old treasure on a hunt being funded by a rapper called BiggBunny (Kevin Hart). Meanwhile, Tess (Hudson) is working as a steward aboard a yacht owned by multi-millionaire Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland), who is seeking to reconnect with his tabloid magnet daughter, Gemma (Alexis Dziena). There is one other side-player to note, Moe Fitch (Ray Winstone), Finn's mentor in the treasure-hunting game.

Now, to put those players into motion. Finn is a guy who excels at finding money to fund his expeditions, but when his deal with BiggBunny heads south, he needs to find a way to continue his hunt, while avoiding his benefactor's henchmen. Tess seeks to get on with her life following the finalization of the divorce. Despite their separate aspirations, they find each other together again and on the hunt for a long lost treasure called "The Queen's Dowry." To fund the hunt? Well, that's where Nigel comes in with his millions. Meanwhile, BiggBunny isn't out of the picture, he hires Moe Fitch to find the treasure first. Off they go, like pieces on a chessboard, moving into position with conveniently placed moments of motivation swapping and unexplained moments of, well, the unexplained.

The plot itself is easy enough to follow. I mean, when you look at the story, you can probably give a pretty accurate guess of where it is going to go. What you will likely not be able to predict are the reasons behind some characters actions, and how many scenes seem to have no connection to what has gone on before.

Hudson and McConaughey have strong natural charisma, and no matter what you think of them (bad movie decisions aside), they display a good amount of screen presence. They have good chemistry together and are the only reason that Fool's Gold is not completely terrible. I may not wuite buy them in these roles, but they do light up the screen and attempt to inject some life and charm into the generally dull proceedings.

While those two do a good job to help the movie's case, it is Alexis Dziena as Gemma who does much of the scene stealing. The character may not have much substance behind her; she provides much of the comedy with her dimwitted socialite. Her reactions, timing, and expressions are all spot on. She truly livens up some dull proceedings.

Much of the problem can be laid at the feet of director and co-writer Andy Tennant and writers John Claflin and Daniel Zelman. The story is bogged down by too many subplots and not enough focus on what should be the central story, the rekindling romance between the recently divorced. Focus is lost as we get bits with Fitch, whose presence rarely makes sense. The same goes for BiggBunny, who only shows up when the plot requires. Then there are the problems with the script. First and foremost are the long stretches of exposition regarding the treasure that nobody really cares about. Any momentum that was gained prior to these talks just grinds to a halt.

If nothing else, Fool's Gold should never be boring. I guess the creative team wasn't given that memo. While the movie was not as aggressively bad as something like One Missed Call, it certainly does not aspire to be anything good. It just is, playing out across the nation and helping to cure insomniacs of what ails them.

Bottomline. The stars are likable, a couple of scenes will elicit a chuckle, but overall you will find yourself fighting back the overwhelming urge to take a nap. There is neither meat nor dessert with this meal. You'd be better off looking elsewhere for a little romantic adventure.

Not Recommended.


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