To me, Spelunkers are a completely alien species. I am totally bemused as to why anyone would want to spend time in the dark, under miles of rock, battling cold, and damp and crushing claustrophobia. And in movies at least, it always seems to go really badly wrong. Sanctum is a case in point – an Aussie film based on a true story about a bunch of cave divers who run out of air. Although these guys are supposed to be expert cavers, they all seem pretty reckless, witless, pannicky and shoddily unprepared when disaster strikes. It’s also fairly appallingly acted – as wooden and lifeless as the Village Roadshow Studios sets on the Queensland Gold Coast, where the action was actually filmed. Maybe it worked better in Avatar-esque 3-D? Maybe I just don’t care? Fast forward.
Fool’s Gold wants to be an adventure-cum-romantic comedy yarn about a Caribbean hunt for buried treasure that rekindles the romance of a mismatched husband and wife. Problem is, the plot is somewhat plodding, the romance is so-so and the comedy is mostly made up of pratfalls and funny voices (they are accompanied on their journey by a supporting cast of characters inexplicably using accents that are almost entirely not their own.)
My biggest problem of course is the male lead – Matthew McConaughey. Some wag proposed that McConaughey has a contract that insists he spends at least 51% of any movie shirtless. I don’t think it’s contractual; I think he’s an arrogant schmuck who rather fancies himself. Odd, considering the wet look poodle perm, which was not a good look in New Cross Gate in 1986 and, frankly, still isn’t now.
In contrast – and somewhat surprisingly, it’s Kate Hudson (in my humble opinion a largely over-rated flake who has really grated on me in the past) who is the movie’s main redeeming feature; her comic timing is really very good and she looks cute and she’s about the only one you vaguely believe in or care for.
For what it’s worth, the movie barely set foot in the Caribbean during filming – it was mostly shot on location on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia with Port Douglas doing stand-in for Key West. Apparently the director didn’t want the schedule disrupted by hurricanes, which makes sense, I guess. Other QL locations included Hamilton Island, Lizard Island (eek) and Hervey Bay. There’s a quaint local story on the cast’s encounters with Australia’s notoriously gruesome wildlife at Stuff.
There’s nothing specifically wrong with Fool’s Gold, but there’s nothing really right with it either. Nevertheless, if you want a good giggle, check out a whole range of priceless journalistic disdain at the movie’s Wikipedia entry.