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Movie Review

A pair of fools, little to treasure

Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson in 'Fool's Gold.' Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson in "Fool's Gold." (Vince Valitutti/warner bros.)
Email|Print| Text size + By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / February 8, 2008

"Fool's Gold" is a tedious adventure-romance about a himbo treasure hunter, Finn (Matthew McConaughey), his soon-to-be-ex wife, Tess (Kate Hudson), and the hundreds of millions of dollars in coins and jewels they stop squabbling long enough to find. It's "National Treasure," the Kathleen Turner-Michael Douglas edition.

When I was bored watching it (which is to say often) I thought about admiring the hard work McConaughey did for this picture and how all that work appears to have gone into his abs. He's shirtless 70 percent of the movie, and that's not quite the arousing dream it ought to be - mostly because McConaughey is more or less saying, "I'm an arousing dream!"

On their treasure hunt, Finn and Tess manage to rope in Donald Sutherland as Nigel Honeycutt, a rich Englishman whose silky white mane of hair could double as a slip or an ascot. Tess works on his boat, which his dim American socialite daughter (Alexis Dziena) is visiting. She's a ropy creature whose next career could be as a plumber's snake. (To Dziena's credit, she's often the most charismatic person in the movie.)

Nigel's boat winds up rescuing Finn from drowning - to Tess's annoyance - and what adventure there is begins. These four are racing to find the treasure against both the gangsta (Kevin Hart) who wants the money Finn owes him and a grizzled boat captain (Ray Winstone, complete with Southern pirate accent).

Director Andy Tennant has been taking stabs at film romance for years ("Fools Rush In," "Ever After," "Sweet Home Alabama," "Hitch"). But all he shows us are the puncture wounds. Here he gets script credit along with John Claflin and Daniel Zelman, and the movie lazily drags along, failing to realize even its basest screwball potential. The zing between Hudson and McConaughey, which was more or less there in "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," goes un-zung.

"Fool's Gold" plays like a product that began life as one thing in the Hollywood cannery and wound up something else. It's full of plastic sentiment, chases, buffoonery, and dull lewdness, not to mention the macho gay couple stuck cooking the meals on Nigel's boat. Seventy years ago they would have been platonic black dudes. Sometimes progress stinks.

Hudson no longer seems to care that she hasn't come close to discovering how good she could be in movies. Instead, she spends a lot of screen time pointing out who in "Fool's Gold" is dumb and who's dumber. (She never gets around to the composer whose brass-and-steel drum score says "Weekend at Bernie's 5.") Of course, if Hudson were so smart she wouldn't be here, floating around a movie that makes the most beautiful waters seem like they've been colored with 2000 Flushes.

Wesley Morris can be reached at wmorris@globe.com. For more on movies, go to boston.com/ae/movies/blog.

Fool's Gold

Directed by: Andy Tennant

Written by: Tennant, John Claflin, and Daniel Zelman

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, Alexis Dziena, Ray Winstone, Kevin Hart, and Donald Sutherland

At: Boston Common, Fenway, suburbs

Running time: 110 minutes

Rated: PG-13 (Gun violence, fisticuffs, language, and a frequently shirtless Matthew McConaughey)

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