It wouldn’t be Spring without a bit of romance in the air, yet this month sees a surprising lack of films revolving around love and relationships. What we do get, is this unusual romantic comedy. Not that it’s unusual in starring genre regulars Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey – teaming up again after their successful coupling in 2003’s How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days – but in its apparent attempt to appeal to both sexes for a change.
Let’s face it, romantic comedies are pretty much always aimed almost exclusively at the fairer sex, with precious little in the way of concessions to the long-suffering boyfriends and husbands that end up dragged along to the cinema. That’s more than fair enough, of course, films should always know their audience and try to appeal to the target market as much as they can. Few men would want their brain-dead action films spoiled by the inclusion of too much lovey-dovey romance. Who could picture action stars like Arnie, Sly or (especially) Chuck Norris getting all romantic?
But every now and then, you get a genre film that manages to transcend the usual target audience. The likes of Shrek or Ratatouille have shown that animated children’s films can also get adults out to the cinema in droves.
Big-budget sci-fi blockbusters like the Star Wars films have from time to time managed to bring in female crowds as well as male. Woody Allen – in his prime, at least – managed the rare trick of getting men keen to go to the movies to see films about relationships, life and love.
Fool’s Gold seems to be a deliberate attempt to get men as well as women popping along to the cinema. This is largely thanks to superficially trying to position McConaughey in a similar role to his Indiana Jones-style turn in 2005’s Sahara – that of daredevil treasure hunter. The only trouble is, having an Indiana Jones as the male character in a romantic comedy could prove a problem. It would instantly jettison any of the pretence these films must have that the two leads aren’t going to get together, because he’d simply be too good for any woman to resist.
And so McConaughey becomes a bizarre cross between a surfer-style slacker and Indiana Jones. He’s an obsessive treasure-hunting waste of space with whom it’s all but impossible to sympathise as Hudson dumps and divorces him at the start of the movie. Cue the usual implausible set-ups as the pair gradually – and inevitably – start to get back together, this time aided by the promise of a vast fortune in sunken gold bullion.
With the misjudged attempt to bring in the blokes through a poorly thought-out male lead character, the filmmakers have ended up with a movie that will disappoint both their key audiences. For the men, there’s nothing to really associate with, and for women the supposed object of desire is a waster with little going for him bar McConaughey’s rugged good looks. Had Hudson’s on-off boyfriend Owen Wilson been cast instead, they may have been on to something, but McConaughey simply can’t put across the charm that’s vital for such a role.
The end result is harmless enough stuff – perfectly fine for a girls’ night in should it crop up on the telly or there’s nothing better at the rental shop – but it’s hard to see anyone dashing to the multiplex for Fool’s Gold. It is, in other words, an aptly-named film – superficially it could look good, but on closer examination it turns out to be worthless.