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Fool's Gold (2008)

Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 6/17/2008

All Ratings out of
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/21/2008

For as long as there have been movies, there have been movie stars, and Hollywood loves to promote those stars. Often the stars get more press than the actual film. And what could be better than having more than one star to back a movie? Therefore, Hollywood loves movie teams. Tracy and Hepburn, Day and Hudson, Reynolds and Field, there have been many of these teams over the years. When 2003’s How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days made over $100 million, there was no guarantee that a new team had been born. But stars Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson are together again in Fool’s Gold. Will they be able to strike box-office gold?

In Fool’s Gold, McConaughey stars as treasure hunter Benjamin Finnegan. He has spent years searching for the remains of a Spanish ship which sank somewhere near the Florida Keys. His passion for the quest convinced college student Tess (Kate Hudson) to not only join his search, but to marry him. But after years of dead ends, Tess is ready to move on with her life and divorce Benjamin. She has taken a job as a steward on board Nigel Honeycutt’s (Donald Sutherland) yacht in order to get enough money to start her life anew. Meanwhile, Benjamin has been unable to repay a loan to Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart) and is running for his life. Benjamin and Tess meet for their divorce hearing and he attempts to win her back by explaining that he has found a new clue that could lead to the treasure. When Tess refuses to listen, Benjamin approaches Honeycutt and convinces the man to finance an expedition. Thus, the group must now unravel the mystery of the lost treasure before Bigg Bunny’s thugs find it first or kill Benjamin.

Let’s face it, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days was not a good movie, but clearly someone thought that pairing McConaughey and Hudson again was a good idea. And while I’ve never been impressed by Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey is usually good for a laugh. Fool’s Gold comes from Director Andy Tennant, who made the criminally underrated Ever After and the quasi-amusing Hitch. So, this movie should have something going for it, right?

Well, let’s start here. When critics are discussing things like James Bond films or Disney’s animated movies, they typically point out that you can judge the quality of a film by its villain. The villain in Fool’s Gold is played by comedic actor Kevin Hart. Now, I love Hart in the Scary Movie films (“How the hell you gonna’ wake up dead?”), but there’s nothing the least bit threatening about him, and thus he’s not very effective as a villain. Perhaps the fact that he’s not scary is supposed to be funny, but if it is, this is simply an example of how everything in Fool’s Gold turns to scrap metal.

One typically expects a film of this nature to have a fairly lightweight premise. But, Fool’s Gold chooses to buck that trend. At the beginning, I was impressed by the fact that we are simply introduced to Benjamin and Tess and then slowly learn their back-story. I interpreted this as an indicator that the film wasn’t going to talk down to its audience. And it doesn’t…but not in a good way. Again, this isn’t a documentary or an art film, but it has the guts to essentially stop any forward momentum whatsoever so that Benjamin and Tess can provide a lesson in Spanish history to Honeycutt and his ditzy daughter, Gemma (Alexis Dziena). This scene seems to go on forever and totally deflates the film.

From there, we get an odd mixture of arguments between McConaughey and Hudson, treasure hunting scenes, and moments with Honeycutt and Gemma. The scenes with Sutherland and Dziena (who looks just like Miley Cyrus) truly detract from the main storyline and feel as if they are coming from a different movie. The final insult comes at the end, where we get a scene which is supposed to be suspenseful. Well, A) the scene was in the trailer, so if you’ve seen that, then you know how it ends, and B) being a Hollywood rom-com, there’s not much worry that things will end anyway but well.

To be honest, I didn’t expect Fool’s Gold to be a great movie, but I thought that it would hold some laughs. But, this movie is remarkably humorless. The banter between McConaughey and Hudson is tired, Gemma’s air-head schtick is pointless, and the rest of the cast (Sutherland, Ray Winstone) is wasted. It’s become a cliché to joke about McConaughey going shirtless, but this film only seems to exist as a reason for this to happen. He doesn’t don a shirt until 18 minutes into the movie and it seems to fall off at regular intervals. Fool’s Gold is a total waste of time, and the only positive thing that I can say about this movie is that it’s good to see Malcolm-Jamal Warner getting some work.

Fool's Gold digs for treasure on DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has come to DVD in two separate releases, one full-frame and the other widescreen. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. This is a nice transfer, as the image is sharp and clear. The picture shows no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors are very good and ocean-scape shots look great. The image does lack in detail in some spots though, and there is some mild video noise at times. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track offers some nice surround sound and stereo effects during action scenes and the underwater diving moments. The action during the finale provides a refreshing amount of subwoofer effects for a romantic-comedy.

The Fool's Gold DVD contains only two bonus features. "Fool's Gold: Flirting with Adventure" (5 minutes) contains interviews with Hudson and McConaughey as they discuss what it's like to work together. There's a lot of talk about their "chemistry". The piece contains more clips than either interviews or behind-the-scenes footage. The other extra is a 3-minute "Gag Reel".

Warner Home Video has also brought Fool's Gold to Blu-ray Disc. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc offers a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. This transfer looks great, as the ocean scenes and the blue water simply sparkle here. The picture is very sharp and clear, showing no grain at all and no defects from the source material. The colors look great and the image has a very nice amount of depth. Unfortunately, the audio track on this Blu-ray is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and 640 kbps. So, this is essentially the same track which was on the DVD. While Fool's Gold isn't a treasure-trove of great audio effects, the movie has several action scenes and I'm sure that a lossless track would have sounded very nice here.

The extras on the Blu-ray Disc are identical to those found on the DVD.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long