Sometimes watching a really awful movie can provoke an audience member to ask deep, philosophical questions. After watching 10 minutes of a Jheri-curled, orange, shirtless Matthew McConaughey in the unbearably awful new release “Fools’s Gold,” the main question that comes to mind is, why is this man a movie star? This film – if one can call it that – starring Kate Hudson and McConaughey and directed by Andy Tennant, plays like a tropical vacation commercial made cheaply for late-night television; it aims for exhilarating action, but ends up being as exciting as the run-down beach bar at the airport. “Fool’s Gold,” is terrible, and not in a funny way. It makes one actually wax nostalgic for the days before the birth of Hudson and McConaughey’s supposed cinematic “chemistry.” What happened to the aspirations of Hudson, the Oscar-nominated actress? Unfortunately, the days of “Almost Famous” are long gone, and the age of self-tanner has arrived.
“Fool’s Gold” stars McConaughey as Finn, a boyish, barefoot treasure hunter who probably couldn’t even spell the word “treasure.” Finn’s wife and former treasure-hunting partner Tess – Hudson, in brainy babe mode – is finally divorcing him and, with the bug-eyed, doofus-sinking-the-boat act, it’s easy to see why. But how did Finn score Tess in the first place? A pair of gay chefs onboard the cruise, undoubtedly added as a desperate attempt to keep the comedy afloat, chide Tess that she “married a guy for the sex, then expected him to be smart.” Besides treasure hunting, Finn’s only other talent is his much-lauded sexual prowess, and McConaughey seems sleazy enough for this to be believable.
In the wake of her divorce, Tess is working on a cruise ship in the Bahamas for Captain Honeycutt, a miserable-looking Donald Sutherland in maritime gear. Alas, after losing money and escaping a pack of Bahamian men who are inexplicably trying to kill him, Finn’s treasure-hunting scheme is ruined. But lo and behold, when Finn rescues the hat of Captain Honeycutt’s daughter – a truly wretched Alexis Dziena – he coincidentally ends up on the same boat as his former paramour, milking Captain Honeycutt to back him for another treasure hunt. This segues into a lengthy explanation of sunken 18th century Spanish treasure that is about as interesting as reading a VCR instructional manual.
But really, for someone who is on the fence about this movie, Captain Honeycutt’s daughter is what finally drives the nail into the coffin. Dressing and acting like a lobotomized 15-year-old prostitute in blue eye shadow, watching Dziena play a bad imitation of Paris Hilton is like repeatedly getting hit on the skull with a hammer. Indeed, after watching her for 10 minutes, and reaching a count tally of 10 shirtless McConaughey scenes in only 50 minutes, leaving the theater was the only possible option, because I was about to be sick.
Hudson is her usual amiable self, sticking by McConaughey, whose torso glows the burnished orange of an overcooked Thanksgiving turkey. The bad amusement park shenanigans get progressively wackier and less funny, and the script is so plodding and clumsy it is unbelievable to think that it took no less than three people to write it. Back to the original question: in 50 minutes of this movie, McConaughey proves that he has about as much charisma and talent as a stalk of celery. The only thing left to say about “Fool’s Gold” is that McConaughey should put on some shoes and get to work at the nearest airport beach bar, leaving Hudson to pursue roles that don’t require a personal trainer.