Matthew McConaughey lately has been sacrificing his body for his art. He dropped a lot of weight for his Academy Award-winning performance in “Dallas Buyers Club” in 2013, and now has gone the opposite direction, putting on about 40 pounds for his role as Kenny Wells in “Gold.”
He also shaved his head so he could appear to have a receding hairline, and used false teeth to simulate a bad set of choppers. The end result is a guy with a pot belly, lousy taste in clothing and a general screw-up ambience.
“Gold” is inspired by true events that took place in the 1980s when investors lost a lot of money in a gold mine venture that turned out to be nothing. It’s a story that has been told before about people who go from rags to riches only to be doomed, usually by their own greedy extravagances, bad luck or bad decisions, to fall back into the swamp of financial ruin.
McConaughey’s Wells is a third-generation gold prospector, wherein he has cashed in his pack mule for an office full of salespeople seeking investors. Taking over the business after his father, also named Kenny Wells (Craig T. Nelson), dies, the younger Wells now runs his business from a bar where his girlfriend Kay (Bryce Dallas Howard) works.
But things are not going well and when he is turned down in a bid to bring in a heavy-duty financier, Wells is about to lose it all.
He has a dream, however, about hitting a gold mother lode in Indonesia and follows up by convincing a geologist, Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez) to join him in the search for this potential gold mine.
After running out of the initial money raised for the venture, and with Wells nearly dying of malaria, Acosta finally claims there is indeed gold in them there hills.
Well, once you make money, a lot of light shines on you, and soon Wells and Acosta are being courted by people with deep pockets. But these people see Wells for what he is — kind of a goof-up who never seems to be more than two feet away from a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of booze — and they use their financial clout and connections with the Indonesian government to leverage Wells out of the way. But Wells and Acosta are able to make their own deal and regain control.
Then, inevitably, everything collapses.
“Gold” is one of those movies that might be worth sitting through if these kind of business horror stories tickle your fancy. Otherwise, it is also a chance to see McConaughey continue to expand his repertoire of performances. Here he is deeply flawed yet admirable in his desire to be his own man and to pursue his dreams. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed but he never gives up.
Bryce Dallas Howard has some moments as Kay, a woman who sometimes has serious doubts about Wells, but dang-it, she just cannot help but love the lunkhead.
THE BYE BYE MAN
A decent premise for a horror movie falls way short here.
Three college students — Elliott (Douglas Smith), he girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and John (Lucien Laviscount) — who obviously have not kept up with their reading of horror movie primers, decide to rent a creeky old house off campus. And before you can say “I have a bad feeling about this,” bad things start happening.
The three young people unwittingly unleash an evil entity known as the Bye Bye Man (Doug Jones). This guy has a pretty good gig going on. If you say his name, or if you only THINK his name, he is able to wreak all kinds of horrible things.
“The Bye Bye Man” was directed by Stacy Title, whose last directorial effort was the TV movie “The Greatest Show Ever” 10 years ago. So her effort here is a bit rusty. There are some scenes that really needed to be reshot because of seriously bad acting. And the scares tend to be the cheap jump-in-your-seat variety.
Another problem is that the screenplay by Jonathan Penner, based on “The Bridge to Body Island” by Robert Damon Schneck, offers no back story on the Bye Bye Man. Who he is, how he got to be who he is and why he gets his jollies fooling with people’s minds and turning them into killers never is explored.
Thus he really does not present much of a scary presence. Oh, some of the things people do under his influence are pretty terrifying, but the only unnerving aspect at the end of the movie is who might be the next person to carry out Bye Bye Man’s evil deeds.