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Suffering "Fool’s" Not-So-Gladly: "Fool's Gold" and "Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights - From Hollywood to the Heartland" PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 13 February 2008 02:51

Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey in Fool's GoldFOOL'S GOLD

At one point during Fool's Gold's opening sequence, Matthew McConaughey's fortune-hunting hero is seen slo-o-owly hopping along the ocean floor, and for the next 110 minutes, the whole movie seems to be moving at the exact same speed. I understand that director Andy Tennant's (supposed) comic adventure isn't meant to be anything more than a featherweight romantic diversion - an excuse to watch the perfectly tanned McConaughey and Kate Hudson swap barbs while being photographed against intoxicatingly pretty Key West locales - and many in the audience appear content to accept it as such. But, good God, aren't these viewers at all bothered by how mind-numbingly lethargic the pacing is?

Truth be told, they should also be bothered by a lot of other things, such as the incoherent plotting (which has something to do with buried treasure chests and a murderous billionaire rap artist), and the nauseating cutesiness of the dialogue, and the mugging leads who aren't sharing the screen so much as battling for its individual attention. But you could ride past all of the film's central annoyances - the way you do in, say, the original National Treasure - if the damned thing just moved a little. Fool's Gold, though, doesn't move - it just lies there. (There's a lengthy scene midway through the movie in which McConaughey and Hudson explain the history behind their hunt - the same history previously provided in the film's prologue, thank you very much - and it's almost as if we were being dared to stay awake.)

Nobody needs to be told that timing, in comedy, is everything, and scene after scene here finds the timing all wrong. Shots are continually held for two or three beats longer than necessary - it's as if Fool's Gold were a sitcom, and the filmmakers were waiting for the laughter of the studio audience to die down before pressing forward - and the performers preface their dialogue with momentum-crushing pauses; you could bake bread in the time it takes Donald Sutherland to deliver the simplest of throwaway lines. Fool's Gold is a very special kind of offensive movie: one that expects audiences to be so blinded by its stars' grins and abs that they won't notice how anesthetizing the experience is.

 

Vince Vaughn in Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights - From Hollywood to the HeartlandVINCE VAUGHN'S WILD WEST COMEDY SHOW: 30 DAYS & 30 NIGHTS - FROM HOLLYWOOD TO THE HEARTLAND

I've never seen a film quite like Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights - From Hollywood to the Heartland, and not only because its full title is one of the most unwieldy in the history of cinema. The movie follows Vaughn and four hand-picked, aspiring comedians as they travel by bus to a month-long series of gigs, and as a filmed document of the tour, there are certain elements that an audience has every right to expect: numerous clips of the comics slaying their audiences with raunchy jokes; miniature blow-ups as the men face tough crowds and even tougher living conditions; cheerfully crude backstage - or rather, back-bus - shenanigans perfectly befitting this type of rolling-frat-house endeavor. Yet while Wild West Comedy Show has all that (though less of it than you might anticipate), what's shocking, and enjoyable, about the movie is how sweet it is; it's an R-rated comedy concert that you could easily take home to mother. Perhaps that's because, in each of the young comedians' cases, they do take it home to mother.

The first half of the film is engaging but unsurprising, as we watch Vaughn and his comedic quartet - Ahmed Ahmed, John Caparulo, Bret Ernst, and Sebastian Maniscalo - perform snippets of their show to audiences (interestingly, mostly female audiences) throughout the Southwest. And some of the routines are hugely entertaining, especially Maniscalo's, railing against unsanitary bathing practices and men who wear flip-flops and the horrors of discount clothing. (He creates a brand-new archetype: the macho priss.) But in general, the bits are too abbreviated for us to get a firm sense of the comedians' styles and rhythms, and the first-they-went-here-and-then-they-went-there sameness of the presentation begins to grow wearying; despite the laughs, after 45 minutes of Wild West Comedy Show, you wonder how it will sustain your interest for another 45.

And that's when director Ari Sandel brings out the big guns - the parents. As the tour progresses, all of Vaughn's protégés receive visits from their folks, who happily share stories (and occasional childhood photos) with the camera, and the film's second-act fun lies in watching these confident, excitable performers turn into cowed children in the presence of their families. (The comedians' faces suggest them thinking, "Please, Mom, don't embarrass me ... .") After the comedians' braggadocio begins to melt away, the movie doesn't grow in depth, exactly, but it develops a considerable, and surprising, rooting interest, with the men morphing from L.A. hotshots into struggling kids who just want to do their parents proud. There's no denying the manipulation of the movie's second half - especially in the scenes of the men conversing with those displaced by Hurricane Katrina - but the film's big-hearted love for its subjects outweighs your gripes about its presentation; Wild West Comedy Show is the comedy-tour as bear hug.

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written by commentor, February 16, 2008
...many in the audience appear content to accept it as such. But, good God, aren't these viewers at all bothered by how mind-numbingly lethargic the pacing is?

Maybe the rest of the audience isn't afflicted with attention deficit disorder.

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