Fool's Gold (2008)

It is a well-established fact that the sight of someone being whacked upside the head with a hard object is hilarious. There is probably a scientific explanation for it. Near instant access to repeated viewings of a good head-bonk is the real reason DVDs are so much better than VHS. 

It is my sad duty to report to the scientists of humorous head-whacking that they now have to explain how a movie in which Matthew McConaughey is repeatedly whacked on the noggin is so darned unfunny. *Fool's Gold* not only features numerous head-whacks, with such implements as a cane, a cricket bat, and a shovel, but it also features a crotch-whacking-with-shovel as well. If the head-whacking is the gold standard of whackings, the kibbles-n-bits whacking is the silver standard, and probably only because it is primarily utilized against one half of humanity, and primarily enjoyed by the other half. You can see funny examples of both types of physical abuse in a mere 30 seconds in Justin Timberlake's Pepsi commercial, and I heartily endorse that efficiently hilarious option over *Fool's Gold*.

This screwball comedy (at least I think that's what it's supposed to be) reunites Kate Hudson and McConaughey (*How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days*) who, despite their individual charms and undeniable good looks, are no latter day Kate Hepburn and Cary Grant. (For a superior exemplar of the screwball comedy, see Hepburn and Grant in *Bringing Up Baby*.) The plot of *Fool's Gold* concerns a 300 year old sunken treasure that McConaughey's Finn seeks somewhere in the Caribbean. An exploding boat, an attempt to murder Finn, and eventual rescue by a boatload of rowdy teens all conspire to make him late for his divorce. Not showing up for the divorce is par for the course, according to his ex-wife Tess (Hudson), who announces that she is returning to grad school, apparently to study history. Finn somehow convinces her that it is better to *live* history by finding sunken treasure. This after finding his way onto the yacht where Tess works as a steward for the marvelously wealthy but familially benighted Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland, well-tanned and no doubt enjoying a leisurely tropical vacation). Nigel and his jet-setting bimbo daughter Gemma (Alexis Dziena) need some father-daughter time, and decide it would be fun to look for treasure too.

Thrown into this mix are a competing bunch of treasure hunters led by crusty Moe (Ray Winstone), a felonious rapper named Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart) who, after bankrolling a previous Finn expedition, now wants in on the action, and Bigg's assorted inept henchmen. Andy Tennant, who directed and cowrote this haphazard movie, throws in a couple of gay chefs too, mostly, I suspect, to make possible a scene late in the movie in which they struggle with a shotgun and scream "I can't cock it!" It's possible that was supposed to be funny too. 

There are boat chases, jet ski chases, derring-do involving airplanes, underwater fight scenes, harpoonings, stabbings, shootings, and the aforementioned cranial whackings and bits bonkings. Tess and Finn bicker, unconvincingly and pretty much humorlessly -- mostly about how immature and unreliable he is, while he, in his defense, counters that he's carefree! exciting! adventurous! All of which is true, and he also sports a nice, even tan (like almost everyone else in the movie) and is generally soaking wet *and* getting bonked in the head, all of which should add up to a rollicking good time. But still, there's something missing in *Fool's Gold*, a gaping hole that all the sunny tans, bikinis, bimbo and himbo jokes, and suggestions of great sex don't fill. The movie is frantic without being fun or purposeful, like it all started with a list of stunts, and a story was cobbled together around them in no particular order. *Fool's Gold* tells us -- at one point Moe literally says, "Now there's a guy who really loves his wife!" -- that Tess and Finn are still in love without providing any convincing evidence aside from airplane dangling on his part and a certain otherwise inexplicable foolhardiness on hers. It is otherwise inexplicable foolhardiness only because Tess is supposed to be exceptionally smart, which is also something that has to be literally pointed out by other characters, since tangible evidence is lacking.

The cast looks jolly good cavorting in the sand and zipping around the Caribbean, and the sun-soaked tropical locales look mighty inviting here in the dark, cold days of winter. For all that, and its breathlessly frenetic pace, *Fool's Gold* is still boring and tedious. It is an action-romantic comedy that has lots of action, but it is neither romantic nor funny, and apparently no amount of head-whacking can fix that. Although, for the sake of science, I'm willing to let them try.