'Fool's Gold' is all over the map

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My freshman roommate in college had attention deficit disorder. All jokes aside, let's just say it was pretty obvious when he'd neglect to take his meds for any extended period of time.

Abby Lowell / Juneau Empire
Abby Lowell / Juneau Empire

I'd come back from class in the morning to find our dorm room completely re-arranged. Later that same day, after an afternoon class, I'd return to find things completely redone again. It was impossible for him to allow things to stay the same for very long.

It's for this reason I'm only half-joking when I say I'm curious about the writers of "Fool's Gold." Maybe they don't all have ADD; maybe they just had way too much Red Bull during their writing sessions. Whatever the case, the end result is a movie that is part romance, part action-adventure, part random violence, and part Matthew McConaughey body display - in no particular order. "Fool's Gold" is all over the map.

I hope you've seen "Into the Blue" with Paul Walker and Jessica Alba, because if you replace Walker and Alba with McConaughey and Kate Hudson, and increase the cuteness a bit, you've got "Fool's Gold." If you didn't catch "Into the Blue," here's the crude version: A couple (McConaughey and Hudson) bickers in the Bahamas while searching for ancient treasure.

There is more to the story. Much, much more. None of the minutiae is that consequential to the movie, however. There are so many subplots and supporting characters, so much backstory and boring details that I would need to take my college roommate's meds to stand a chance at listing them all here. Don't worry, though. If you do see "Fool's Gold" there is a scene that goes on forever where all that happens is McConaughey and Hudson explain the whole story to Donald Sutherland's character and his ditzy daughter. It comes across like one of those late-night infomercials where the voice keeps saying, "But wait! There's more!"

I'd explain who Sutherland plays and what his Paris Hilton-like daughter is all about, but that's a slippery slope I refuse to start down.

Despite the ridiculous number of minor characters, "Fool's Gold" is all about Matt and Kate. And since I've already compared it to "Into the Blue," the biggest step up here is that McConaughey and Hudson are Oscar worthy compared to Walker and Alba. Honestly, though, that's about the only compliment I'm going to throw the film. Besides, as McConaughey and Hudson vehicles go, I'd much rather catch "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" the next time it's on TBS. At least that movie knows what it is.

The convoluted plot and the film's refusal to pick a tone lead to several uncomfortable moments. Maybe it's envy, but dude, I get it! McConaughey has a six-pack! Do we really need the gratuitous (and pointless) close-up pans on said six-pack? And then there's Hudson's character repeatedly mentioning how good McConaughey is in bed. It seems forced and oddly dirty. Finally, the random graphic violence is just weird. Theo Huxtable, all grown up and Rastafarian, gets killed unnecessarily, and then later a man gets turned into bloody sea water. How these things fit into a romantic comedy is beyond me.

But I guess that's my whole point. "Fool's Gold" isn't really a romantic comedy. It isn't really anything. Rather, it's a mildly entertaining mess of a film that I'm fairly certain has been off its meds for a little too long.

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