widescreen – No treasure in Fools Gold

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When it comes to romantic-comedy action-adventure movies, there is no higher standard than Romancing the Stone. The 1984 smash hit starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner literally has it all: two sexy and charismatic leads, a solid story filled with humor and tension, and a treasure hunt that does not require constant lessons in obscure 18th-century history.

Seeking to strike a similar vein, Fools Gold stars Matthew McConaughey as Benjamin Finnegan, a surfer dude turned expert sea salvager who is hot on the trail of the Queens Dowry a trove of 40 chests of gold and exotic jewels that were lost at sea back in 1715.

Finns less-than-ideal partner in this endeavor is his ex-wife, Tess, played by Kate Hudson. As if things couldnt get stickier, Finns financial backer is Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart), a thug gangsta rapper who happens to own the Caribbean island near where Finn believes the treasure lies.

Unlike Stone, whose plot swept interesting characters into interesting situations, Fools heavily relies on unnecessary subplots and cutesy characters to drive the main story. We are supposed to be seeing Finn woo his ex back into love and marriage by finding the treasure.

Instead, we get sidetracking stories about a billionaire (Donald Sutherland) and his spoiled daughter, a fellow treasure trawler (Ray Winstone), two happily married gay chefs enraptured by McConaugheys bare, a-hem, presence and numerous sprinklings of blundering sidekicks.

Given some of the people behind Fools scenes, this cluttered narrative is rather surprising. Director Andy Tennant who co-wrote the screenplay with two other gentlemen, one of whom is a co-creator of televisions hit show Damages directed such hits as Hitch and Sweet Home Alabama. The latter may be one of the best romantic comedies ever.

Although Fools may be miles away from Tennants Alabama, and leagues away from Stone, it is hardly terrible. McConaughey is charming as Finn and, once the screenplay allows for it, has great chemistry with Hudson. Sutherland and his fellow superfluous secondary character compatriots are even good for a chuckle or two.

But the real fun comes in the films last 30 minutes as the race to capture the Queens Dowry leads not only to danger on the high seas and high air, but also to a bit of romance.

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