Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) is a fisherman living on Plymouth Island who drives a Nissan just like my two parents and three grandparents do. He’s a fisherman adamant on catching a giant fish he calls “Justice”. Don’t know why. Maybe all the money he could get from the big one could earn him enough money to get off the island, maybe have better quality time with this girl (who I mistook for Catherine Zeta-Jones a few times) that he likes to make out with. During a day where he ends up closer than ever but is unsuccessful with a bit of debt from lost fishing lines and damaged equipment, in a rage he pulls a knife on his crew and sends them away including his best bud Duke (Djimon Hounsou). He’s down on his luck, until a weird man in snotty out-of-style suits tries desperately to talk to him but keeps just missing him, Dill showing clear that he does not care for whatever business proposal he has. But the business proposal of his ex-wife Karen (Anne Hathaway) is one he can’t walk away from. She asks for a proposal that could land him in humungous trouble, but if accomplished, he’d receive millions of dollars compensation from her, and it would mean protecting their kid, Patrick, who he used to fish with. And the thing is, there’s more to this story than just that, giving us our movie.
Look, I liked Plymouth Island. It’s half resort, half chum emporium. It’s a place that has a beach and wonderful sights but also feels like the business side of tourist attractions, where to catch fish and food they fork over to a ton of people with loads of green, things can feel a little scummy in the salty heat. And I got the impression that the businesses catering to the many needs of the tourists have made them wish they could go back on their life and try something else. It reminded me of my job at a factory last summer. Still, its colourful buildings and its somewhat friendly and unpretentious atmosphere made me want to go on vacation there.
Sad truth is, this island was in desperate need of a better movie. It needs a drive, something to excite us. And there is at least something in the mix when Hathaway’s character comes into the bar. We do sort of care about what will happen to her by the end of this movie because we are generally good people. One glaring problem is, as good as McConaughey can act as an anything-but-sober unlucky fisherman, his character is too unlikable for us to want him to get that payoff from Karen and too uninteresting to be distinguishable. There are also too many scenes that are clearly filler, and Baker Dill is unable to make us want to know every detail of how he runs his business. There are nudity scenes to attempt to get our attention, and they mildly work. Too bad there’s often cuckoo dialogue they put themselves between. The dialogue gets a lot worse when a twist comes in. I understand where the filmmakers were going with this twist, attempting to ask us to look into the meaning of life. But by mixing a fantasy element that’s actually kind of bonkers with a protagonist who hates smiling and loves insolence, it makes the movie a mixture of sweet and hot, of honey and Tabasco sauce, of jellybeans with T-bone steak. And if any of those actually sound tasty to you, well...they do not for me. Doesn’t help how something goes down without any bumps along the way; bumps that could’ve generated more suspense. And they should’ve, considering it was the climax of the whole production.
Look, this is not worst-of-the-year material. It just doesn’t do enough to make its twist feel as outstanding and wondrous as it thinks, leaving a production trying to be serious by combining a fantastical twist on the focus of a slumming fisherman. Instead it’s just seriously silly.