The box-office-juggernaut pairing of Kate Hudson and Sir Matthew of McConaughey gets a second go-around after the lousy How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and their latest effort isn't much of an improvement.
McConaughey plays Benjamin, a crazy treasure hunter who is reluctantly getting a divorce from Tess (Hudson). He finds a plate shard he believes to be part of a tremendous long-lost treasure, but he sinks his boat. He owes big bucks to a music magnate named Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart, doing a fairly funny riff on Puffy Combs and Kanye West). Ben and Tess then get a financier (played horribly by Donald Sutherland) to help the search for the booty.
If that sounds a little stupid, that's because it is. Sutherland plays his role with an affected British accent (at least I think it's British) that's acid on the ears. It is a career low point for Kiefer's dad. Also sporting an intolerable accent is Ray Winstone, as a rival treasure hunter. I have no idea what kind of accent he was trying to utilize, and I don't really care.
As dumb as it gets, the movie avoids complete lousiness, because it is shot well and is easy on the eyes. Some will be pleased with an often topless McConaughey, while others will take joy in ogling Hudson and co-star Alexis Dziena (who plays Sutherland's ditzy daughter) in bathing suits.
The underwater sequences have their moments. Give director Andy Tennant (who directed the halfway decent Hitch) some credit for a couple of amusing set pieces. The film starts promisingly with a boat-sinking episode that had me giggling. I also liked Hudson's reaction to a grave being exhumed. ("Maybe it's a head!")
However, some of the editing is atrocious. Sequences often just sit there with nowhere to go. There are times when the film suffers from an identity crisis, not knowing whether it's a romantic comedy or a serious treasure-hunt movie. It never finds its happy place.
McConaughey runs around with his mouth hanging open, while Hudson's character spends much of the film frustrated and moping. I like both McConaughey and Hudson, and they deserve better material. Hudson's career is, at the moment, mirroring that of her talented mother, Goldie Hawn. She started in some critically acclaimed, quality work, but has lately been in lots of lame-brained romantic comedies. It's a shame, because she has talent, as Almost Famous showed.
As for McConaughey, he seems to be playing a lot of goofballs lately. I liked him in Frailty and The Newton Boys. Hell, I even liked him in Reign of Fire, the dragon movie that everybody (but me) hated. I just wish he'd opt for something more adventurous. The Internet Movie Database lists two promising future projects, Tropic Thunder with Ben Stiller, and something called Surfer Dude, which could be wonderfully stupid. Call me an optimist.
One thing's for sure: Hudson and McConaughey will probably again share the screen someday. Their movies make a lot of money, and they have decent chemistry. However, it's time to match that chemistry with a decent script. If you are a writer, and you have an intellectual project with the likes of McConaughey and Hudson in mind, get cracking!
There was actually a round of applause at the end of screening I attended. And with that, I officially gave up my quest to understand this world that surrounds me.