There’s no doubt about it: Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson certainly look like a golden couple. But Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks they ain’t. In “Fool’s Gold,” the second movie pairing McConaughey and Hudson, matching blonde highlights and buff bods can’t save the two actors from the – pun intended – sinking ship. While romantic comedies have never been a breeding ground for creative story lines, “Fool’s Gold” is a true test of just how little plot, or even comedy, is needed to sell a movie these days.
The premise of the film is nothing new. Boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy wins girl back. The boy in question is Ben ‘Finn’ Finnegan (McConaughey, “We Are Marshall”), a treasure-hunting bum with a deep hatred of wearing shirts. After a few impossible turns of events, Finnegan finds himself on billionaire Nigel Honeycutt’s yacht (Donald Sutherland, TV’s “Dirty Sexy Money”). Of course, Nigel is also the employer of Tess (Hudson, “You, Me and Dupree”), Finn’s recently anointed ex-wife. The story behind how and why these characters go searching for gold isn’t really that important. The rest of the film is mainly devoted to pratfalls and incompetent bad guys. It should be no surprise that, in the end, Finn and Tess rediscover their love that used to be. Never mind the constant reminders that the marriage was only based on sex; treasure hunting apparently brings out a romantic side.
Putting aside the hideously distracting color of the entire cast (Donald Sutherland, you are orange. But you are better than that), the fact that the plot asks us to believe McConaughey’s Finn character is intelligent enough to research and remember historical information should tell you something about the film. The man gets physically abused so often (walking cane to the head, run over by a speed boat and blown out of the water), it’s a wonder he can even find his swim trunks in the morning. Unfortunately, none of the other characters can lend much more creditability to the operation. It’s like the writers reached into a hat full of stereotypes, picked out a few and ran with them. Honeycutt’s Paris Hilton-like daughter Gemma (played by newcomer Alexis Dziena with all the skill of, Paris Hilton) parades around in tiny bathing suits and enough makeup for ten baby prostitutes while Tess rolls her eyes and nags Finn about money and danger and whatnot. Let’s not even get into the offensive use of the yacht’s two chefs, whose only comedic functions seem to derive from the apparently hysterical fact that they are gay.
In the end, the film’s biggest selling point – Hudson and McConaughey together again – is actually one of its major weaknesses. Any chemistry the two had in “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” must have dried up during a trip to the tanning bed; there’s none to be found. Both of these actors (even McConaughey) are capable of better, but paying for a ticket to “Fool’s Gold” might encourage a third pairing between the “romantic couple.” Based on the downward sliding scale of the quality of these two together, it’s a scenario that we should all do our part to avoid.
At Showcase and Quality 16