With Fool’s Gold, Andy Tennant delivers his third no.1 hit, after Sweet Home Alabama and Hitch. Naturally, he’s not all that bothered by the fact that critics never like his movies. When we looked over Chicago-born director Andy Tennant’s CV, we noticed one peculiar pattern. There isn’t one.
From his early TV outings (The Wonder Years, spin-offs from Ferris Beuller and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures) he made the move into movies with true-life dross such as Desperate Choices: To Save My Child (1992) and The Amy Fischer Story (1993), teaming up with the star of the latter, Drew Barrymore, for the 1998 near-hit, Ever After. A year later, it’s Jodie Foster and Yun-Fat Chow for Anna And The King, and then the hits started. Sweet Home Alabama (2002), Hitch (2005), and now, Fool’s Gold (2008), a romantic comedy set in the Caribbean, headed up by Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson. It’s basically a Malibu ad gone horribly wrong, as the golden couple put their freshly-minted divorce on the back burner as they team up to find some ancient buried treasure. Naturally, it’s proven to be a major box-office smash. Which, it seems, is the only pattern to a career that Andy Tennant really cares about.
Q:What grabbed you first here? Having the golden couple on board, John Claflin and Daniel Zelman’s original script, getting to shoot in the sunny climes of Queensland and the Caribbean, the slapstick violence…?
A: I wanted to do a romantic comedy like Romancing The Stone and North By Northwest. For me, it was always about trying to keep Matthew grounded. He’s not a comedian; he’s just a guy who’s maybe not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he means well, and he wants to save his marriage, and I always thought, nobody at the beginning of North By Northwest, that Cary Grant would be on Mount Rushmore at the end, trying to save Eva Marie Saint. Or have a crop-duster try to kill him in the middle of nowhere. And I’ve always just liked those kinds of movies, and same thing with Romancing The Stone. It’s a marriage comedy, and ultimately, they’re going to salvage their marriage.
Q: You rewrote the script, so, I’m guessing these are all elements that you brought or beefed up?
Yeah. After doing Hitch, it was a case of, well, what do you want to do now? And it wasn’t going to be me turning around and wanting to be David Fincher. I didn’t want to do Zodiac. It wasn’t going to be that. It was going to be, well, I’ve explored what it’s like to be single in New York City, and I thought, well, I’m married. I’m going to explore what it’s like to be married. And that’s what was in the original script. The Bickersons Go On A Treasure Hunt. That was pretty much it. But the rest of it, I knew from the beginning, what I wanted to happen at the end, the treasure would become insignificant, and Finn would look at his wife and realise that she was the real treasure.
Q:McConaughey and Hudson seem to be indeed golden. How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days made $177million at the box-office, and now, Fool’s Gold looks set to do even better. A crucial part of your plan here, or could Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Alba worked just as well?
No, I never thought of anyone else. I’ve been really, really lucky in the casting of my movies, the movie stars I’ve gotten to work with, but this is a two-hander. And I knew I needed a girl who could give as good as she got, and I needed a guy who could be funny, and take the hits, and keep on coming. So, Matthew was always the guy…
Q:You opened with $21.5million in the US back in February, alongside a barrage of negative reviews. Fool’s Gold currently has a 10% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and quite a low rating on Movies.ie, Does that bother you?
No. You know, I’ve had three no.1 movies, and I went back after this movie opened, and some of the critics didn’t like it, and those same critics didn’t like Hitch, and they didn’t like Sweet Home Alabama. And that’s fine. I wouldn’t want their job, and I don’t think they’d want my job, but I find interesting is that there are an awful lot of movies out there that I admire, but they’re not fun. You don’t have a good time watching them. And what happens is, you’re in Oscar season, and everybody’s talking about films. I don’t make films, I make movies. I make popcorn movies. I make movies that are a Friday night or a Saturday night good time, and that has its place too, because when these movies succeed, the studios can afford to make those movies that don’t make the kind of money that my movies do.
Q:Looking over your CV, it is hard to see a pattern, other than each movie is designed to be a crowd-pleaser. Is that the bottom line for you – pleasing a crowd?
I wish I had that much planning to my career, but I don’t. I did Ever After because I have two daughters and I wanted to retell the Cinderella story. I did Anna And The King because I love history, and I thought the whole idea of going to Malaysia to work with Jodie Foster would be an amazing experience. I wouldn’t trade that movie for anything; I had an amazing time. It didn’t work that well, but those things happen. But then along comes Sweet Home Alabama, and Hitch, and now this thing. What’s next up for me? It’s always about the human condition, and telling a story about people, first. Whether it’s funny or dramatic, em, I do like a good, fun romance…