Kate Hudson stars opposite Matthew McConaughey's tanned torso in this forced, unfunny attempt at something ROMANCING THE STONE made look so easy: a romantic comedy in which two antagonistic yet perfect for each other treasure hunters embark on a wild adventure in exotic locales.
As with most everything else in his life, Ben "Finn" Finnegan (McConaughey) has even managed to screw up his divorce: He arrives one minute too late at the Key West courthouse where his divorce from Finn's fed-up wife, Tess (Hudson), was scheduled to be finalized. According to Florida law, Finn must now pay dearly for his delinquency: In the settlement, the judge awards Tess everything which, in the case of stone-broke Finn, means Tess gets all of nothing. Tess now claims she only married Finn because the sex was so good -- they met while Tess was down in Key West for Spring Break -- but it's clear they share more than just an animal attraction: Once upon a time, Finn and Bess were both consumed by the mystery of the legendary Queen's Dowry, a fortune in Spanish gold and jewelry that supposedly sunk to the bottom of the sea way back in 1715 when the ship carrying it sailed out of Havana and directly into a hurricane. Finn is still on the trail of the treasure and thinks he's found an important new clue to the wreck's whereabouts -- Tess only wants to return to Chicago and get her degree -- but he's $60,000 in debt to his new sponsor, a ruthless hip-hop impresario Big Bunny (Kevin Hart) who's demanding a big return on his investment: the lion's share of the treasure if and when Finn and his Ukrainian sidekick, Alfonz (Ewan Bremner), find it. Charming Finn, however, has found a new sponsor in Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland), a British billionaire who's been idly yachting about the Caribbean with his tabloid darling daughter, Gemma (Alexis Dziena), and his new steward -- Tess. Big Bunny, meanwhile, has found a new expert treasure-hunter in Finn's old mentor-turned-rival, Fitch (Ray Winstone), but hasn't forgotten Finn's debt. Tess tries to warn Nigel away from Finn, but the allure of both the sunken treasure and the shirtless Finn soon prove too strong for her to resist.
Not even Winstone -- out from behind his BEOWULF computer generated body and back to his pudgy, charismatic self -- can add the dash of fun this deflated romp so desperately needs. We already knew Hudson and McConaughey weren't exactly Gable and Lombard from their first romantic pairing in HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS, but director Andy Tennant's complete lack of inventiveness comes as a surprise: Couldn't the director of HITCH and EVER AFTER find a more interesting way to lay out the labyrinthine history of the Queen Dowry than that deadening disquisition that stops the movie cold? A surprising amount of violence -- including a revolting geyser of blood and seawater -- leering camera angles and the strictly tourists' eye view of the Caribbean only add to the spoiled aftertaste. leave a comment --Ken Fox