Ben Finnegan, according to his ex-wife, is a genius at precisely three things: Finding treasure, raising money to find treasure and, well, she doesn't want to talk about his third talent. But she blushes when she hints at it, so we can make a guess.
In other areas of his life, Finn, as he's called by his friends, is a mess. He's an admitted liar and roustabout. Calamity clings to him like barnacles: His boat blows up and sinks in the opening credits, for example. He's roughed up and nearly killed by henchmen of a rapper named Bigg Bunny D, to whom Finn owes money. And, due in part to these difficulties, he's late to his own divorce hearing.
"Do you have any idea how humiliating it is to get divorced by yourself?" his about-to-be ex-wife Tess complains.
But Finn has discovered treasure despite these troubles. His sinking boat dislodges a shard from a 300-year-old plate, the first step toward a sunken cache of gold, jewels and priceless history worth $500 million. It's the jackpot he and Tess have spent much of their lives together searching for, and it's tantalizingly within his grasp.
All he needs now is a boat, some financing from a rich benefactor named Nigel—and the ability to turn invisible. Why? Because Bigg Bunny is still after him—and Mr. Bunny owns the island closest to the salvage site.
Finn may be shiftless and irresponsible, but he has his good points. He refuses to hit folks over the age of 50, even if they hit him first. He really loves Tess and wants to get back together with her. And ... well, come to think of it, that's about all.
Finalized divorce proceedings notwithstanding, Finn and Tess eventually patch things up and make plans to get married again. After years of tension, Nigel and his daughter grow to appreciate each other a bit more.
Archives stored in an 18th century church are a critical link in the treasure hunt. Other Christian imagery includes a rival treasure seeker who has a cross tattooed on his bicep and an emerald cross that's discovered amid the treasure. Finn burbles an apparent prayer underwater before he fires a gun at the chains holding him captive. One peripheral character jokes about paying homage to Neptune, the Roman god of the sea.
During Tess and Finn's divorce hearing, her lawyer says, "You married a guy for the sex and then expected him to be smart." She replies that the sex was really, really good. (Remember Finn's third area of "genius"?) It's no surprise that his boat was named "Booty Calls," a double entendre that expresses Finn's—and the film's—two primary interests.
From a distance, audiences watch two women lift their bikini tops to flash Finn. Tess also spends considerable time in a bikini, and she and Finn engage in some intense lip-wrestling maneuvers. When Finn and Tess discover an important old tome at the church, the two divorcées celebrate by having sex in the basement. Tess wraps her legs around Finn's waist before they tumble to the ground and out of sight.
Gemma, Nigel's daughter, spends the entire movie dressed in clothes so skimpy they wouldn't cover a Pez dispenser. In one scene, the camera zooms in on her thighs when she moves them apart to avoid a falling sword. Nigel himself employs two homosexual lovers as his ship's chefs. They occasionally kiss each other on the cheek and talk about how much they care for one another. They get giddy at the sight of Finn's physique (he runs around without a shirt most of the time), and one of them makes a slang reference to the male anatomy.
[Spoiler Warning] At story's end, Tess is pregnant. Though Finn and Tess had intended to renew their vows, it's unclear whether they followed through.
A desire for prostitutes is among the subjects that round out the film's sexual dialogue.
Finn attracts blows to the head like Britney Spears attracts paparazzi. His noggin comes into contact with fists, a shovel, a cricket bat, a golf club and a large boat. All this might explain why, at certain points, it seems as though Finn's IQ has taken a beating too—particularly when he sabotages someone else's salvage site despite the fact that it's already wired with explosives. Predictably, Finn soon gets blown out of the water and onto the top of a boat. Later, he barely escapes injury after he rides a scooter off a cliff. (We see it explode as Finn scrambles to safety.) All this mayhem must be catching, because Tess takes a hefty blow to the head—courtesy of a low-hanging tree branch.
Finn doles out his share of pain, too, shooting one of Bunny's henchmen in the foot and another in the ear. He tangles with several others as well, sometimes underwater. When one bad 'un gets trapped in an undersea cave, water rushes in and violently seals his fate. We know it's not pretty, because we see a fountain of red shoot out of a natural "blow hole" in the rocks. Elsewhere, Bunny gets thwacked in the crotch.
Bunny, incidentally, was once accused of murder but got acquitted of all charges because, according to Alfonz, he "murdered all the witnesses." Bunny fires his shiny silver pistol with wild abandon. One of his henchmen shoots a treasure diver in the leg with a spear gun. Another shoots a comrade and kills him. [Spoiler Warning] Bunny gets his Hollywood-style comeuppance when Tess smacks him several times in the face with a large emerald and shoves him out of an airborne plane (which later crashes, though without any further casualties).
Crude or Profane Language
The most frequently used word in Fool's Gold isn't treasure, gold or water. It's probably god, which is spoken in derogatory fashion more than 30 times, sometimes paired with "d--n." (Jesus' name is misused once.) When things get dicey, characters also resort to the script's second-favorite exclamation—the s-word, which can be heard 20-plus times. A variety of other swear words are sprinkled throughout, including "h---," "b--ch" and "b--tard." And it's implied that Finn makes an obscene gesture at one point, though it's done out of the frame.
Drug and Alcohol Content
When the film's main characters aren't swimming in liquid, they're drinking it—and it's usually alcoholic. Audiences see Finn consume everything from wine to beer to mixed drinks. Even when he's being rescued from the frothy deep, he winds up drinking. Before plucking him from the ocean, his college-age rescuer throws Finn a beer, saying, "It appears you have run dry of the sacred nectar."
Finn isn't the only alcohol fan. The entire cast spends an inordinate amount of time in bars and/or with alcoholic beverages in front of them. And when someone mentions that a historical figured died from consumption, Gemma quips, "He drank too much?"
Other Negative Elements
Nigel harbors bitterness toward Gemma's mother because she apparently married him for his money. And the original captain of the now-sunken treasure ship apparently lied constantly to keep the treasure secret—though, according to Finn, he lied out of honor.
[Spoiler Warning] Perhaps the oddest bit of negativity—or perhaps it's just a hole in the plot—is as follows. Bigg Bunny wants to steal the treasure Finn's looking for, and he's willing to kill in order to get it. Bunny also owns the island near which the treasure hunt is taking place. As it turns out, the treasure is in a cave that's nominally part of the island. So, unless there is a stack of obscure treasure-hunting laws I'm not aware of, this would mean that the booty is actually Bunny's (since it's on his island), and it's Finn who's actually doing the stealing. Right? Couldn't Bunny just let Finn discover the stuff and then file a lawsuit?
Fool's Gold is a throwaway film, nothing more than a two-hour diversion. It's being marketed as a date movie with something for everyone: Slapstick romance and a bare-chested Matthew McConaughey are elements designed to entice those of the female persuasion, while explosions and bikinis (and in one scene, bare breasts) target guys. Add in a galleon-hold full of profanity, and you've got a crass romp ferrying a boatload of PG-13-stretching content.
There's a happy ending of course, as Finn and Tess rekindle their love. But it's still a love based on little more than sex and adventure, which doesn't portend anything good when Finn is in his 60s and struggling with flabby abs and a hernia. This is not a "for better or worse, for richer or poorer" relationship. It's mostly about "better" and "richer." And since I've already made perfectly clear what Fool's Gold is mostly about, I'll leave things right there.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Matthew McConaughey as Ben 'Finn' Finnegan; Kate Hudson as Tess Finnegan; Donald Sutherland as Nigel Honeycutt; Alexis Dziena as Gemma Honeycutt; Kevin Hart as Bigg Bunny D; Ewen Bremner as Alfonz