"Finn" Finnegan is a treasure hunter searching for a sunken Spanish galleon, the Aurelia, that was lost at sea with the 1715 Treasure Fleet. During his search to find the galleon and its treasure, his wife Tess divorces him. Tess has been working as a steward on a yacht owned by multi-millionaire Nigel Honeycutt. Finn finds a clue to the location of the treasure and manages to get on Nigel Honeycutt's yacht The Precious Gem and convince him and his daughter Gemma to join (and fund) the search for the treasure.
Bigg Bunny, a gangster, and Finn's mentor, Moe Fitch, are intent on finding the treasure first. The Precious Gem and Moe's vessel compete to find the treasure in The Bahamas. As Finn attempts to secretly take down Moe's search grid, Finn discovers a sword which holds a clue to finding the treasure. Tess and Finn follow the clues to an ancient church and discover a diary describing the location of the treasure. Bigg Bunny and his associates, who have been following Tess and Finn, take Tess hostage and assume incorrectly that Finn is dead. Bigg Bunny forces Tess to aid him in the search for the treasure in a blowhole. Tess finds the treasure in a cave beneath the blowhole.
Finn and the Honeycutts enlist Moe to help steal the treasure from Bigg Bunny. They arrive as Bigg Bunny sends one of his associates back into the water to find out who was killed in the blowhole. The blowhole kills Bigg Bunny's employee and traps Finn and Tess. Tess saves Finn, but Bigg Bunny kidnaps Tess again. Gemma transports Finn to Bigg Bunny's plane on her jet ski, and Finn leaps onto the plane's pontoon as it takes flight. Bigg Bunny attempts to shoot Finn, but Tess kicks Bigg Bunny out of the plane, sending him into the ocean. Moe takes Bigg Bunny's henchman as a prisoner.
Tess and Finn are reunited and find the treasure together. Tess is shown to be pregnant. In the end, the treasure is displayed in Moe's museum, now renamed the Fitch Finnegan Maritime Museum.Matthew McConaughey as Ben 'Finn' Finnegan
Kate Hudson as Tess Finnegan
Donald Sutherland as Nigel Honeycutt
Alexis Dziena as Gemma Honeycutt
Ray Winstone as Moe Fitch
Kevin Hart as Bigg Bunny Deenz
Ewen Bremner as Alfonz
Brian Hooks as Curtis
Malcolm-Jamal Warner as Cordell
Michael Mulheren as Eddie
Adam LeFevre as Gary
Rohan Nichol as Stefan
David Roberts as Cyrus
Roger Sciberras as Andras
Dan Mewing as Pilot
Warner Bros. and director Andy Tennant planned to shoot the film in the Caribbean, but decided on Queensland, Australia because the hurricane season in the Caribbean was likely to stall production of the film. The Key West scenes were filmed in Port Douglas. Filming also took place in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Hamilton Island, Lizard Island, Airlie Beach, and Hervey Bay. Scenes were also filmed at Batt Reef, where Steve Irwin died from a stingray barb in 2006.
Inside scenes were shot on a sound stage at the Warner Bros studio facility and the actors and crew stayed in luxury homes and apartments on the Gold Coast. McConaughey mentioned having a python in the backyard of his house in Port Douglas. McConaughey said, "There were other days like the day we went out diving and swam with a dugong, which was very cool."
Two crew members were stung by Irukandji jellyfish during filming, so some of the water scenes were shot in the Caribbean because the actors were so frightened.
At the time of filming, The Precious Gem luxury motor yacht in the film was called the Keri Lee and has subsequently been renamed "Penny Mae". It was designed by yacht architect Ward Setzer of Setzer Design Group and originally named Status Quo. It is privately owned and operated by Lee Group Charters.
The yacht's tender was a 2007 Chris-Craft Launch 25.
Warner Brothers Entertainment, Inc., was sued in 2011 by Canadian novelist Lou Boudreau, in Canadian court, alleging copyright infringement by Tennant and two other men over the authorship of the script. Warner Brothers did not comment on the matter.
Fool's Gold was released on February 8, 2008, in the North America and grossed $21.5 million in 3,125 theaters its opening weekend, ranking #1 at the box office. As of September 2008, the film grossed over $110.5 million worldwide — $70.2 million in the North America and $40.3 million in other territories.
The film received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics. As of November 2011, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 11% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 143 reviews. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 29 out of 100, based on 28 reviews.
Several critics compared the film unfavorably to National Treasure and Romancing the Stone. Some critics referred to the film as "tedious" and "listless."
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film zero stars out of four and said "Paris Hilton's appalling The Hottie and the Nottie is "marginally better." Travers wrote "I defy any 2008 comedy to be as stupid, slack and sexless" as Fool's Gold.
Lou Lumenick of the New York Post gave the film one star out of four and called it "excruciatingly lame." Lumenick said "It's all basically an excuse to show off the scenery", including McConaughey's abs.
Carrie Rickey of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film one and a half stars out of four and said it "plays like a Three Stooges movie with scuba gear.", but that "a Three Stooges movie is enlightened next to this one." Rickey described McConaughey as "perennially shirtless" and Hudson as "peculiarly mirthless."
Pete Vonder Haar of Film Threat gave the film one and a half stars and said "the resolution is never in doubt, the villains are comedic rather than menacing, and no one involved seems to care one way or the other that their names are attached to this indifferent mess." Vonder Haar said McConaughey plays Finn "as Sahara's Dirk Pitt minus the SEAL training and a few million brain cells." and asked "Does McConaughey have some codicil in his contract stipulating he must spend at least 51% of a movie shirtless?"
Sid Smith of the Chicago Tribune gave it two stars out of four and said the characters "are comic book clichés." Smith said "the outcome is predictable" and "The wasted talents include Sutherland, affecting a hokey British accent, and hatchet-faced Ewen Bremner."
Brian Lowry of Variety said "The lure of Matthew McConaughey shirtless for extended stretches doubtless has some marketing value, but after that, Fool's Gold offers small compensation." Lowry wrote "At times the pic feels like a comedic version of The Deep, only without the comedy." Lowry said the tropic scenery was well-shot but said "there's not much chemistry" between McConaughey and Hudson.
Carina Chocano of the Los Angeles Times called it a "cheesy, familiar bore" and said it "feels at times like a third-rate Bond movie set to a Jimmy Buffett album." Chocano said "Hudson is the best thing about the movie. She has a likable, grounded presence and sharp comic timing."
Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club gave the film a "C+" and called it "the kind of thing people watch because it's the in-flight movie." Rabin called the repeated mentions of Finn's sexual prowess "a delightfully unnecessary move." Rabin said the film "outstays its welcome by a good 20 minutes" and called it "extravagantly stupid", but that the film's strengths were the "photogenic locales, obscenely beautiful stars, a laid-back soundtrack" and an unwillingness to take itself seriously.
Lou Lumenick said the ending was "surprisingly bloody" and Brian Lowry said the ending is "a little more violent than necessary" and "a bit grittier than it should be tonally, as if we've detoured into a different movie."
Simon Braund of Empire magazine gave the film one star out of five and called it "Absolute tosh. A ridiculous, unerringly tedious plot is weighed down by listless performances from a cast who clearly wished they were somewhere else, despite the sumptuous location."
The film earned a Razzie Award nomination for Kate Hudson as Worst Actress (also for My Best Friend's Girl).
Fool's Gold was released on DVD and Blu-ray discs on June 17, 2008. About 1,225,904 DVD units have been sold, acquiring revenue of $20,502,574. This does not include Blu-ray sales. It was presented in anamorphic widescreen with an English-language 5.1 digital surround soundtrack. The extras for the DVD include Flirting with Adventure McConaughey-Hudson chemistry featurette, and a gag reel. Fool's Gold was released on R4 Australian DVD on June 5, 2008.