By Admin | February 9, 2008

What’s that, America? Subfreezing temperatures bringing you down? All the ice on the roads and political wrangling on the tee-vee sullied your usual good humor? Been sitting around wishing the director of “Fools Rush In” and the writers behind “Anaconda: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid” would get together and make a movie about Caribbean treasure hunters?

What the hell is wrong with you? Seriously.

“Fool’s Gold” is the story of Ben “Finn” Finnegan (Matthew McConaughey), a down on his luck treasure hunter who’s spent the last eight years searching for a Spanish treasure ship that went down in a hurricane off the coast of Florida in 1715. As the capper to this endeavor (and as testament to his rigorous safety preparations) Finn’s boat catches fire and sinks during a dive. His subsequent discovery of a clue to the lost ship’s whereabouts is offset by the arrival of Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart), the mobster/rapper Finn owes some $60,000. Left for dead in the Caribbean, he hitches an unlikely ride to Key West in time to attend the divorce hearing brought about by estranged wife Tess (Kate Hudson), who has finally had enough after dropping out of school, “marrying for sex”, and wasting the better part of a decade watching Finn dick around on his treasure quest.

Broke and boatless, Finn maneuvers his way onto a yacht owned by millionaire Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland), which just happens to be where Tess works as a steward. Honeycutt is intrigued by Finn’s treasure story, and as a result of either Finn’s cocksmanship or Tess’ stupidity, she resists his charms for approximately 24 hours before falling back in line. Together with Honeycutt’s Paris Hilton-esque daughter Gemma (lone bright spot Alexis Dziena), they return to the site, only to find Finn’s ex-mentor Moe Fitch (Ray Winstone) has been hired by Bigg Bunny to get the gold first. Will Finn and Tess outwit their adversaries? Can their love blossom anew? Does McConaughey have some codicil in his contract stipulating he must spend at least 51% of a movie shirtless? I mean, I’ve been to strip clubs with fewer exposed nipples (mostly in Orange County).

As dead-of-winter releases go, “Fool’s Gold” is largely indistinguishable from the dozens of similar studio marketing exercises released each year. Extra credit goes to Warner Bros. for using the grosses from Paramount’s “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” as justification for lazily casting the same leads (McCounaughey and Hudson) in the hope that box office lightning will strike twice. It’s just too bad they couldn’t up the ante by trying to make us care about a handful of greedy dimwits who rank somewhere around “CBS sitcom character” on the Entertainment Believability Scale.

Inadvertently, or perhaps not, writers Daniel Zelman and John Claflin have produced a comedic remake of Peter Benchley’s “The Deep,” only with doubloons instead of morphine and the Chris Tucker-esque Hart instead of Lou Gossett, Jr. In fact, “Fool’s Gold” could easily have been released in 1977, and there’s a sort of laid-back, timeless, Gerald Ford feel to the movie: the resolution is never in doubt, the villains are comedic rather than menacing, and no one involved seems to care one way or the other that their names are attached to this indifferent mess. Least of all McConaughey, mugging his way through another leading role and playing Finn as “Sahara’s” Dirk Pitt minus the SEAL training and a few million brain cells.

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