Fool’s Gold (2008)

Country: United States
Director: Andy Tennant
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, Donald Sutherland, Alexis Dziena, Ewen Bremner, Ray Winstone, Kevin Hart, Malcolm-Jamal Warner
Music: George Fenton

Like Sahara, Fool’s Gold, is another Matthew McConaughey treasure hunting adventure, but this time he teams up with Kate Hudson, his co-star from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

Fool’s Gold is wafer thin entertainment that makes Sahara seem like a complex and deeply plotted masterwork, but strangely I still enjoyed it. In fact it has more in common with Into The Blue than Sahara. All three films are about treasure hunting, but Sahara branches off into Health and Environmental issues, whereas the other two are about a guy and a gal who get tangled up with gangster rappers.

Fool’s Gold starts with Benjamin Finnegan (Matthew McConaughey) and Alfonz (Ewen Bremner) searching the ocean floor for a fabled ship that was carrying a fortune in treasure, nicknamed ‘The Queen’s Dowry’. The ship was destroyed in a hurricane as it was heading back to Spain, but no-one has ever located the wreck, and more importantly, the treasure.

In his quest, Finnegan has borrowed money to buy a new boat off a gangster rapper called ‘Bigg Bunny’ (Kevin Hart). Unfortunately Finnegan didn’t spring for a new generator for his undersea vacuuming equipment. As Finnegan and Alfonz toil away on the seabed, the generator explodes and catches fire. Within moments the whole boat is on fire, and an explosion in the engine room sends the ship down to the ocean floor.

Now, not only is Finnegan without a boat to continue his search, but he now owes Bigg Bunny a filthy amount of money which he cannot pay. Gangster Rappers don’t like this, and Bigg Bunny orders that Finnegan be killed.

Meanwhile Tess Finnegan (Kate Hudson), Benjamin’s wife, is at a local court finalising the details of their divorce. As Benjamin is tied up with other matters, such as saving himself from being killed, he turns up late to the hearing and looses any other assets he may have had to Tess.

But Benjamin isn’t one to give up. He sees his his opportunity to continue his treasure hunt anchored in the harbour. A majestic yacht, The Precious Gem, owned by Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland), is in port for two reasons. The first is that Honeycutt’s daughter, Gemma (Alexis Dziena) is joining her father onboard during her holiday break. Gemma is a spoilt heiress who would rather be in Paris with her socialite friends than spend time with her father. The second reason why the ship is in town is that Honeycutt’s new stewardess needed to be in town for her divorce preceedings. Yep, Tess is Honeycutt’s new stewardess.

Naturally, Benjamin doesn’t know this. All he sees is an expensive yacht and a potential new benefactor. He contrives a way to get onto the boat. It is quite a shock for Tess as she is about to serve dinner, to find that one of the ship-board guests just happens to be her ex-husband – the man she went to sea to get away from.

In the end Benjamin and Tess relay their life’s stories to Honeycutt. Intrigued by the treasure hunt story, he agrees to fund a search for the lost ship.

The location photography on and around the Whitsunday Islands is breathtaking, and Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson are pretty likeable leads, but this film’s story and subplots are never really fleshed out. It appears that the film-makers were so happy to have Matt and Kate together that they spent all their time focusing on them rather than building a story around them.

Fool’s Gold isn’t a ‘crock of gold’, but nor is it a ‘crock of shit’. It’s sunny, bright, breezy entertainment, that’s a perfect way to unwind if you’ve had a long tiring week, and you are too brain-dead to concentrate on little things like plot or character development. Let the crystal clear images sweep over you and enjoy the film for what it is.

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