It isn’t often a film can be described as simply unwatchable, and yet that description seems the most appropriate available for Fool’s Gold. A slow-moving romantic comedy with neither romance nor comedy, it is almost certain to feature prominently among the list of worst films released in 2008.
Matthew McConaughey is Ben ‘Finn’ Finnegan, a scuba diving treasure hunter based in the Caribbean – actually Queensland in Australia doing a cunning impersonation, perhaps the best performance of the film – who lacks a sense of responsibility and is driven only by his burning desire to locate the wreck of the Spanish armada that was carrying the ‘Queen’s Dowry’ from South America to Spain in 1715. His wife Tess (Kate Hudson), frustrated by his inadequacy in all aspects of marriage apart from the bedroom, is divorcing him and likely to return home to complete her PhD in history. Finn’s discovery of an artefact hinting at the location of the booty will mean unexpected partnerships will be forged in the quest for fame and fortune.
The successful aspects of the film are so few and far between as to be swamped by the abysmal procession of badly scripted scenes and mechanical plot devices. That a major production could be so entirely devoid of positive features is remarkable enough, but it is only in seeing the film that one can truly appreciate its awful magnificence.
McConaughey and Hudson have appeared together before in 2003’s disappointing How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, in which their failure to develop any meaningful romantic chemistry or spark doomed the film to mediocrity. It is quite incredible to appreciate they have even less appeal this time around. Both are physically attractive in the Hollywood way – blond and buff, tanned and taut – and yet neither evokes any sense of charisma in characters that are so poorly fleshed out as to be stick figures. Their interactions are completely uninspired, although at least some of the blame must be shared by the writers who gave their stars so little to work with. That McConaughey shared more magnetism with Steve Zahn in the similarly themed Sahara is further evidence that he and Hudson should never appear together again.
Supporting performances by actors like Donald Sutherland, Alexis Dziena, Ray Winstone and Malcolm-Jamal Warner are notable only for the bizarre collection of accents attempted – what on earth Sutherland was trying to contrive can only be guessed at, and Winstone is lost at sea. Dziena’s thankless task as ‘comic relief’ borders on ‘actor abuse’.
The film unfolds in a dreary fashion, with so much time spent on exposition in certain sequences that the action scenes seem disjointed and almost as if they belong in another film. The soundtrack, with its jaunty tone, contributes to a sense that the intention was to create a comical, even playful, atmosphere, but the eventual violence jars with this in an unpleasant manner.
For anyone wanting a film experience that will make them wish they could pluck out their eyeballs if only to avoid watching any more, Fool’s Gold will meet that requirement.Rating: