Australian Council on Children and the Media

Fool's Gold

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Short takes

Not suitable under 13, PG to 15 (Violence, Themes, Sexual references)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Fool's Gold
  • a review of Fool's Gold completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 7 February 2008.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to violence, themes and sexual references
Children aged 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, themes and sexual references

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Fool's Gold
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Moderate violence
Length 107 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film opens with treasure hunter, Ben “Finn” Finnegan (Mathew McConaughey) searching the seabed for sunken treasure. While he is underwater, Finn’s boat catches fire and sinks. The loss of his boat leaves Finn owing a large sum of money to local loanshark and all round bad-guy Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart), who subsequently orders Finn’s execution. Finn is chained to an anchor and dropped into the deep ocean.

Finn is able to free himself and reach land just in time to rush into court for his divorce from his wife Tess (Kate Hudson). Outside the court, Finn tries to persuade Tess that he has finally found the location of the sunken Spanish treasure ship for which they have been searching for the last eight years, but Tess is unconvinced.

Tess, who never wants to see Finn again, works as a steward aboard a luxury yacht owned by billionaire Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland), who is currently being visited by his estranged daughter Gemma (Alexis Dziena). Through a series of events involving Gemma, Finn ends up as a guest on the same yacht. He persuades Nigel and Tess that he really does know where the sunken treasure ship is located, and Finn, Tess, Nigel and Gemma are soon chasing after sunken treasure.

Bigg Bunny, after learning of Finn’s find, is also after the treasure and hires Finn’s old mentor and rival, Moe Fitch (Ray Winstone) to find the treasure before Finn. The scene is thus set for an exciting and action-packed race.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Relationships; obsession

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Numerous scenes of violence, both slapstick and more brutal, include:

  • In several scenes, Finn has guns pointed at him and is threatened with being drowned and shot.
  • A henchman pistol-whips Finn across the back of the head with Finn falling to the ground unconscious.
  • After having a boat’s anchor chained to his ankles, Finn scuffles with two gun-wielding men. The scuffle involves punches to the face and slaps to the face. Finn shoots one man in the foot and another man in the ear, with the shooting being clearly depicted. At the end of the scuffle Finn is left hanging from the back of the speeding boat. After some time, Finn lets go and sinks, but is able to free himself by shooting the chain from his ankle. Later in the film the man shot in the foot is seen hobbling along on a bandaged foot, while the man shot in the ear has his head wrapped in bandages. 
  • Tess unexpectedly strikes Finn across the head with a walking stick, the force of the blow breaking the walking stick and knocking Finn to the ground. Finn is later seen with a large bruise above his eye.
  • A speedboat runs over Finn while Finn is in a rubber dingy. Finn, half unconscious and with a cut to his forehead, is dragged aboard Nigel’s yacht, but appears uninjured shortly after.
  • An explosion blows Finn out of the water up into the air and onto Moe’s boat. After asking Finn if he is injured, Moe punches Finn in the face, knocking him to the ground. We are told that Moe punched Finn several more times and that Finn wouldn’t hit Moe back because of Moe’s age.
  • Finn holds an ancient Spanish sword across a man’s throat and threatens the man. A fight then erupts between Finn and two henchmen with one of the henchmen squirting detergent in Finn’s eye and Finn hitting one of the henchmen across the head with a frying pan. One of the henchmen the hits Finn across the head with a cricket bat knocking Fin unconscious.
  • Tess hits Bigg Bunny in the crotch with a shovel causing Bigg Bunny to fall to the ground. Tess swings the shovel wildly and somewhat comically at several other men, but misses them.
  • Tess is forced at gunpoint to climb into a blowhole. Tess is left to drown at the bottom of the blowhole and is knocked about underwater by rushing water.  
  • A henchman tries to stab Tess underwater. Tess stabs the man in the face and he is then sucked up a blowhole with the blowhole spewing out bloody seawater.
  • While underwater, Moe is shot in the leg by a speargun.
  • Bigg Bunny pulls Tess by her hair into his seaplane where he keeps her at gunpoint. Tess hits Bigg Bunny in the face with a giant gem and Bigg Bunny then hits Tess in the face with his hand, knocking her unconscious. Later Tess kicks Bigg Bunny out of the plane’s door with Bigg Bunny falling to his death.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Finn’s boat catches fire and sinks
  • Gemma and Tess are depicted emotionally upset to the point of tears.
  • One of Bigg Bunny’s henchmen has a brutal and threatening demeanour that some younger children may find frightening.
  • After escaping a scuffle, Tess is knocked off the back of a motor scooter by a tree limb, while Finn rides the scooter over a cliff.  The scooter explodes in a ball of flames.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the scenes described above.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by many of the scenes listed above.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the scenes listed above.

Product placement

None of concern.

Sexual references

Fool’s Gold contains sexual references and innuendoes. Examples include:

  • A homosexual couple work as cooks on the yacht. One of the men tell Tess that she should have “the same kind of happiness we have everyday.” Later the couple talked about being attracted to Finn.
  • At dinner on the yacht, Nigel asks his guests if they would like anything else and one guest asks, “Are there any prostitutes?”  
  • Finn makes reference to just having had sex in a church.
  • While waiting in court during divorce proceedings, a woman with Tess makes the comment, “You married a guy for sex and then expected him to be smart,” while Tess responds by telling the woman, “but like you said, the sex was really great.”

Nudity and sexual activity

Fool’s Gold contains some nudity and sexual activity. Examples include:

  • Finn spends most of the film with a bare chest wearing only shorts, while Tess spends most of the film in a skimpy bikini.
  • Numerous images of women in brief swimwear, lots of exposed cleavage, midriff and thighs.
  • Gemma deliberately uses her bikini clad body to divert the attention of a number of crewmembers.
  • Gemma wears a braless evening gown with the cleavage down to her waist.
  • A bikini clad Gemma lies on her back on the deck of the ship with her legs wide apart. When a sword sticks into the deck between her legs, a close up image of her crotch is shown.
  • A homosexual man kisses his partner on the cheek.
  • On a couple of occasions Finn and Tess are depicted passionately kissing each other.
  • Two women lift their bikini tops and briefly expose their breasts to Finn. 
  • Tess and Finn are seen having sex on two occasions. The tops of moving arms and feet are visible and we hear low volume moaning. On one of these occasions Tess wraps her legs around Finn’s waist with the two stumbling around before they fall behind a table.    

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • The film contains several scenes depicting people drinking alcoholic drinks including beer, wine, cocktails and spirits.
  • Finn is thrown a can of beer from a speeding boat with the thrower saying, “It appears you have run dry of the sacred nectar.” There are two men and two women in the speedboat, all drinking cans of beer.
  • When Gemma hears a reference to the disease ‘consumption’, she thinks that it means dying as a result of drinking too much alcohol.
  • During a dinner party guests are asked if they would like to smoke cigars; all declined the offer.

Coarse language

Fool's Gold contains low to medium level coarse language and putdowns throughout. Examples include:

  • “leaking arse piece of shit”
  • “what the hell’
  • “prick”
  • “bloody”
  • “bastard
  • “Oh my God”
  • “what in God’s name?”
  •  “rat’s arse”
  • “We’re screwed”
  • “barrelling up your arse”
  • “holy shit”
  • “son of a bitch”
  • “get my balls on some ice”

In a nutshell

Fool’s Gold is a romantic action comedy which is likely to appeal to older adolescents and adults. There are few positive values in this film for parents to reinforce. Finn appears to be a man of mixed qualities, driven by his obsession with finding the treasure.

This movie could give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • The portrayal of female characters.
  • Tess and Finn’s relationship
  • Finn finds the treasure on an island owned by Bigg Bunny, but takes it anyway. Does this suggest that it’s OK to steal from criminals, or that stealing from criminals isn’t really stealing?

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