Fool's Gold

In fact, Fool's Gold is pretty much bereft of bright spots.

Fool's Gold

Director: Andy Tennant
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, Donald Sutherland, Ewen Bremner, Alexis Dziena, Kevin Hart, Ray Winstone
MPAA rating: PG-13
Studio: Warner Bros.
First date: 2008
UK Release Date: 2008-04-18 (General release)
US Release Date: 2008-02-08 (General release)

It's sorely tempting to seek bright spots in Fool's Gold, however few and far between they are. Ray Winstone plays a treasure hunter, gnarly and tanned and a good shot. And, um, well... in fact, Fool's Gold is pretty much bereft of bright spots.

This isn't exactly surprising, as the film capitulates entirely to lackluster but probably profitable formula. First up, Matthew McConaughey shirtless. As much as Fool's Gold rips off National Treasure's essential plot, McConaughey sports abs and a tan Nic Cage will never manage, and so appears to change the terms of the treasure hunt. It helps that this hunt is set in the Caribbean, which grants plenty of opportunity for exposure. It doesn’t help that Finn comes with an occasional Ukrainian sidekick Alfonz (Ewan Bremner), who points out the stereotypicality of his role and plays it anyway ("I don't think of myself that way," he tells the villain who names him "sidekick." Rather, "I'm the lead character in my own story.")

Kate Hudson plays the girlfriend character, here named Tess, an academic by career choice but an avid treasure hunter by nature. Her inner conflict is manifest in her divorce from the no-count Finn, which occurs in the film's first few minutes and is almost immediately cast aside in favor of their joint venture, the pursuit of 18th-century Spanish treasure they've finally figured out to be hidden in a blow hole that's conveniently near the divorce site.

It also happens that Tess, the so-called responsible one, is working for the very wealthy and apparently British Nigel (Donald Sutherland in yachting cap). Instantly converted by the couple's enthusiastic retelling of their search for the treasure, he provides funding for equipment and the services of his daughter Gemma (Alexis Dziena), who resents her father, courts the paparazzi (à la Paris Hilton), and finds Finn's abs immensely appealing. Before you start worrying about tensions between Tess and Gemma, however, know this: Tess is determined to school Gemma not to behave like the bag of hammers she tends to emulate, though she's been encouraged to do so her entire life. As Tess instructs Nigel -- while Gemma is sitting right in front of her -- "I'm sorry but she's got to learn there are better ways to get attention than acting like a bimbo!" With this nod to girl power, the film proceeds to put Gemma and Tess in all manner of skimpy clothing, posing on the beach and diving in the perfect blue sea.

This is not to diminish the movie's attention to McConaughey shirtless. He is much appreciated, most vocally by Tess' gay best friends (Michael Mulheren and Adam LeFevre), cooks on Nigel's yacht and emphatically impressed by Finn's oh-so-attractive body. Such subplotty efforts to equalize the abs contest between Tess and Finn are less than successful. For, as much as Finn appreciates Tess' treasure research skills, she does eventually lapse into a need-to-be rescued mode, in order to assure us that Finn's own beauty is not skin deep. Such jeopardy is occasioned by the movie's resident gangster, a rich rapper with a joke name, Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart), to whom Finn owes money. Once Bigg Bunny hears about the potential payoff of the treasure, he sends his thug-killers (Brian Hooks, David Roberts, and for a sad minute, Malcolm Jamal-Warner) to take care of Finn and bring back the goods.

With the introduction of these black men with guns, the film's parody becomes completely tedious. They play the generic gamut -- from Rasta to thuggish to pseudo-comically inept -- providing Finn with the chance to be bruised and bloodied (and shirtless again) and Tess with reason to hit back or succumb, depending on what Finn needs to prove. As Fool's Gold makes its way from one action set piece to another, with time out for the re-blossoming of fabulous-white-bodied love, the black men are most certainly not the lead characters, even in their own stories.





Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.


New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.


Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.


Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.


New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.


'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.


Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.


Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.


M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.


Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.


JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.


All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.


Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.


Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.


Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.


'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.


Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.


Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Collapse Expand Reviews
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.