*** (out of 5)
February 8, 2008
Matthew McConaughey as BEN FINNEGAN
Kate Hudson as TESS FINNEGAN
Donald Sutherland as NIGEL HONEYCUTT
Alexis Dziena as GEMMA HONEYCUTT
Ewan Bremner as ALFONZ
Ray Winstone as MOE FITCH
Kevin Hart as BIGG BUNNY
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Andy Tennant
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I will admit that I was dreading the screening of “Fool’s Gold.” To make matters worse, I had to give up a seat in the press box of Will Ferrell’s “Get Funny or Die” live comedy show to cover this movie. And I love Will Ferrell.
Still, after making my way across town to the farthest theater from my house, and sitting through about half of the film, I found myself rather enjoying it.
“Fool’s Gold” is a blend of adventure and romantic comedy along the lines of “Romancing the Stone” or “Six Days, Seven Nights”… without the old man macking on the lesbian. It tells the story of Ben and Tess Finnegan (Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson), an estranged couple getting a divorce. Finn, as Ben is called to his friends, is a reckless treasure hunter, and Tess always seems along for the ride.
Virtually at the moment of their divorce, Finn tells Tess that he has found the probable location of an 18th century Spanish treasure they have been seeking for years. With the help of Tess’s rich boss, they embark on a search for the treasure, which is also being sought by a rival treasure hunter (Ray Winstone) and a local rapper-turned-rum-runner-turned-gangster (Kevin Hart).
Even when I saw the trailers, I couldn’t help think that this is what Matthew McConaughey’s “Sahara” might have been if it were billed as a romantic comedy. However, “Fool’s Gold” manages to patch the holes that were in a film like “Sahara.”
First, it allowed McConaughey to shine as the sexy savant that he is. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, so he’s not too tough to swallow. Second, instead of the mediocre Penelope Cruz, we have the lovely Kate Hudson (in a bikini, no less) for him to play off of. Finally, the story is lightened up enough to make a great date movie. The peril is reduced to a level that’s below your average kid’s film nowadays, and it can be a fun ride.
This is the second collaboration between Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson, and while they don’t make the most compelling screen couple in the world, you can do a lot worse (like McConaughey and the aforementioned Penelope Cruz).
Still, the movie is held up by a fine supporting cast, including Donald Sutherland as the wealthy benefactor, Ray Winstone as the abrasive but honorable treasure hunter and Alexis Dziena as the pixie-like yet totally hot heiress (also in a bikini through much of the film). Other nice supporting roles worth mentioning are Michael Mulheren and Adam LeFevre as Tess’s gay chef friends.
I know I’m breaking with many critics by liking this film, but that’s never stopped me before. In many ways, “Fool’s Gold” is a guilty pleasure, and I’m not ashamed to admit that.
Honestly, I don’t know why Warner Bros. is releasing this film on February 8? Not only will it get crushed by the ridiculously popular Hannah Montana concert in its second week, but this film is also a prime candidate for Valentine’s Day. Yet, it’s a week too soon.
A couple years ago, Andy Tennant directed “Hitch,” which was a huge success that was bolstered by Valentine’s Day crowds. I’m not saying that Matthew McConaughey is anywhere close to Will Smith in terms of audience appeal, but this seems to be a misfire in marketing more than a misfire of a film.