Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 17 November 2008
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock - http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
Lifelong treasure hunter Ben Finnegan, known simply as Finn (Matthew McConaughey) owes rapper/gangster/loan shark Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart) $62,000 and so lives his adventurous life on borrowed time. Along with periodic Ukrainian sidekick Alfonz (Ewen Bremner), the two bumblers manage to wreck the ship they depend on to salvage the riches of the deep, angering Bigg Bunny, who’d like to see Finn permanently on the ocean floor wearing an “anchor” bracelet.
Bigg’s henchmen, Cordell (Malcolm Jamal-Warner) and Curtis (Brian Hooks) just can’t seem to rid the earth or the sea of the irrepressible Finn, who takes advantage of the time to attend the finalization of his divorce from wife Tess (Kate Hudson). He still carries a torch for his soon to be ex. Kind of hard to do when you’re always in the water, but an important part of the premise.
Finn is a rascal who likes to equivocate, justify and rationalize. Tess is a smart woman who inexplicably married for good sex and slowly realizes that she has hitched her wagon to a pretty man-child; irresponsible, reckless, but a great lover with a perpetual high-beam smile. Who needs a retirement account?
Tess realizes that she does and winds up working for wealthy Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland) as a steward on his luxurious yacht, The Precious Gem. Nigel is visited by vacant, materialistic daughter Gemma, (Alexis Dziena) who’s good for lame observations and excited exclamations that serve to underline her dismal intellect. She’s also good for some T & A, which we are all expected to appreciate, feminine dignity and intelligence be damned.
A pair of gay employees on Nigel’s yacht are also supposed to add humor, but of course it’s at their own expense. They are here to deepen the stereotype pool: gay = funny/outrageous; women = sex; sexy woman = dumb; rapper = criminal; old, rich man = young, beautiful wife. This is precisely how stereotypes gain immortality – but if it’s good for a laugh, carry on.
Finn comes to dizzy Gemma’s aid at sea and needs some rescuing of his own, winding up aboard The Precious Gem. Isn’t that where Tess is employed? Of course it is.
Accidentally together again, Finn and Tess recount the over-long, somewhat confusing and ultimately snooze-inducing tale of a Spanish ship laden with treasure called The Aurelia. A detailed history of the treasure’s origination, journey and disappearance is discussed, rehashed, revised and verified – while the audience yawns. It’s too much effort for such a fluffy serving platter to carry; besides, it’s already laden with its own heavy cargo – boredom.
The divorced duo resumes the search for The Aurelia’s treasure, also known as The Queen’s Dowry (gold, gems and jewelry, circa 1715). It sure helps that old Nigel is down for the adventure, along with his millions in disposable income.
Professional scavenger Moe Fitch (Ray Winstone) has the boat, equipment and manpower to recover the treasure as well. There’s contention between him and Finn, with whom he has a colorful history. Which side will he take in the treasure hunt? Moe is also a good ol’ Southern boy, so British citizen Winstone was a natural for the role – like I would be to play a pro-football running back.
Through a series of obscure clues, gleaned from ancient archival books and documents, Finn and Tess discover and think through the 300+ year old strategy of Captain Sebastian which takes them closer to finding The Queen’s Dowry. Archives also make them horny. At least someone’s having fun in this romp.
Thugs and henchmen, led by Bigg Bunny are hot on the treasure trail. There are plenty of ways for the couple to be endangered by these goons. How many of them are logical is another story.
McConaughey looks happy to be out of his clothes for a good part of the film. Hudson appears tired and windblown throughout the proceedings. Sutherland is burdened by a silly British accent, much as true-Brits Winstone and Bremner are with ill-fitting Southern and Ukrainian inflections. Dziena should chalk this role up to “paying her dues.” Hart must have liked the location.
Director/writer Andy Tennant (Ever After) has blocked out some sensational scenery shot off the coast of Australia; underwater photography is also impressive. Unfortunately, he only shows off his big budget but small ideas in bringing this weak and disappointing adventure to the screen. Co-writers John Claflin and Daniel Zelman, together with Tennant have provided situational nonsense to dive into without an oxygen tank to rescue our dying brain cells.
Written with a type of nudge & wink sensibility that implies approval and acceptance of biases is hardly a great service to the general public. Yet this kind of exploitation continues so persistently for laughs in the genre (and even out of it), that it has the opposite effect - that of becoming a sad commentary on the lack of originality and “open season” entitlement writers employ when glorifying broad character assassinations by sexual orientation, gender, or race. Not all of the fools are onscreen.
Like Gemma, the film possesses superficial aesthetics but no real intelligence. One chick for the scenery is all I can muster.