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He’s so fine — too bad movie’s not

POSTED: February 25, 2008 5:00 a.m.
/Warner Bros. Pictures

Matthew McConaughey makes for good eye candy as Ben "Finn" Finnegan in the romantic comedy adventure "Fool's Gold."

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Who says all action movies are made for men? "Fool’s Gold" is an exception to that rule. The violence is minimal and tame, it’s romantic (sort of) and mostly this is an excuse to watch People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive for 2005 run around without a shirt.

As, uh, moving as that might be for most women, it doesn’t make for much of a movie.

Benjamin Finnegan (Matthew McConaughey) and his wife, Tess (Kate Hudson), share a passion for history, treasure and great sex (it’s a running joke). However, Benjamin is clumsy, unsuccessful and inattentive.

He also owes thousands of dollars to Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart), a rapper-turned-crime boss whose henchmen, Cordell (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) and Curtis (Brian Hooks), are as stupid and inept as they come.

Meanwhile, Tess works as a steward on a yacht owned by super-wealthy Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland). Nigel is also a father struggling to connect with his spoiled, airhead daughter, Gemma (Alexis Dziena).

Tess divorces Benjamin, then a series of coincidences and manipulations promptly bring them back together to hunt for the treasure they have both sought for years. Nigel and Gemma join in the fun, and they must all find the treasure and escape from Bigg Bunny.

With all this plot crammed in, you’d think the movie would be more exciting.

It isn’t very funny, either. The actors perform well enough, but the writing gives them little to do. Sutherland classes the joint up a bit, despite being stuck in a subplot that only serves to make fun of Paris Hilton (gee, that hasn’t been done) and to show Gemma in a bikini.

An interesting villain might have helped, but using a rapper/mogul with an inept crew isn’t exactly a new idea, either (remember Cedric the Entertainer in "Be Cool"?).

The casting seems odd, too. Malcolm-Jamal Warner is one of the henchmen, even though he has a bigger name and could have brought more to the role of Bigg Bunny than Kevin Hart.

So does all this add up to a terrible movie? Not exactly. The scenery makes it easy to imagine a sandy beach under your feet and the smell of the ocean. It’s a nice place to be. If you happen to be there with McConaughey and Hudson, all the better.

They both look great and the women in the audience especially will get exactly what they expect: Benjamin rarely wears a shirt, and he really loves Tess. (Swoon ...)

It’s a bit like forgetting to bring your camera on vacation. You get a pleasant break from the daily grind, but it doesn’t take long to forget most of it.

The film falls into the mostly neglected romance-adventure category. While it’s definitely better than, say "Six Days, Seven Nights," it falls well short of "Romancing the Stone," mostly because, as attractive as they are, McConaughey and Hudson are not in the same ocean as Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner when it comes to charisma and comedy.

Director Andy Tennant has made a career out of entertaining but forgettable films ("Fools Rush In," "Sweet Home Alabama"), and this film fits comfortably into that catalogue.

"Fool’s Gold" benefits greatly from its release date. During the summer, when we expect blockbusters and first-rate romance, this would be a flop. For February, though, it’s a solid way to escape the weather. And it’s serviceable as a Valentine’s Day date movie, since it should rev the engines of all genders.



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