Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson star as an estranged couple who rediscover love on a treasure hunt in "Fool's Gold."
‘Gold’ has certain shine
Tone really is everything in a movie like this, and we don't mean the rippling, golden landscape of Matthew McConaughey's pecs. Which are often on display here, like a travelogue of tanned beefcake. Nope. It's the effervescence of romantic adventure comedy, a state of being that is so difficult to achieve in this genre that efforts often fizzle. "Fool's Gold" has a certain, mysterious buoyancy that manages to keep it afloat even when McConaughey keeps making his stupid man-child screaming face and co-star Kate Hudson resorts to eye-rolling exasperation, pulling it out of her quiver of acting shtick whenever the screen needs a shot of her adorability.
Opens Friday in theaters
The gold standard of such films is "Romancing the Stone," but the more direct comparison here is with the recent sequel to "National Treasure." Both it and "Fool's Gold" are McGuffin-driven hidden-clue mysteries in which one arcane reference after another leads to a fabled, lost treasure, and the protagonists are, essentially, the Bickersons, a once-in-love couple that are fighting constantly, but are brought back together by the treasure hunt and, naturally, fall in love again, because they were separated only because the screenwriter learned in film school that there must be conflict in the first two acts, and what better way than to have the romantic leads snipe at each other?
That's the thrust line, and everything else -- the goofy, supporting characters; the mysterious treasure; the wonder of the chase; the excitement of the inevitably greedy treasure-hunting rivals -- is adornment. But where the "National Treasure" sequel fell flat, unfocused, excessive and plain preposterous, "Fool's Gold" manages make good use of, and also manages to strike the right tone -- there's that word! -- in whipping up an entertainingly breezy outing.
"Fool's Gold" also takes quite seriously the technology of offshore treasure hunting, having some slapstick fun with it as well, and it also has a secondary story featuring the estranged relationship between a lonely billionaire -- Donald Sutherland, impossibly droll -- and his Paris-Hiltony daughter, played by Alexis Dziena as if she were channeling Judy Holliday, and who injects unexpected gravitas into a cartoon figure. She's quite good, and Sutherland is great.
McConaughey and Hudson? Both look tanned and athletic, and frankly, these roles are tailor-made for their peculiar talents. They don't stretch themselves as actors here, but you can see why they're stars.
The plot? Something about lost Spanish-galleon gold. For folks shivering in the mainland right now, the sunny golden vistas here -- not just McConaughey's pecs -- will likely drive up tourism in the Caribbean.
Oops, the movie was filmed in Australia. Don't tell the Bahamas.