The words ''bad romantic comedy'' may now add up to a redundant phrase, but bad is still a relative concept. I had fun at Miss Congeniality, Music and Lyrics, and at parts of last year's The Heartbreak Kid. Does that make them good movies, or me an easy connoisseur of bad ones? Let's just say that enjoyment, even trashy enjoyment, is not to be sneered at. Boredom, on the other hand, is and that's the real crime committed by the dead-in-the-water Fool's Gold and the cold-as-last-year's-catchphrase The Hottie & the Nottie, comedies that have all the zing of a gossip item you don't want to bother reading to the end.
Fool's Gold is the sort of knockabout ''romp'' in which folks clunk each other over the head with shovels. It's the dialogue, though, that clunks most painfully. Matthew McConaughey plays some sort of ne'er-do-well man-child treasure hunter, and from the moment he finds a broken heirloom dinner plate while diving off Key West, hearing him ramble on and on about how this relic is going to lead him to the legendary Queen's Dowry treasure chests makes you wish you were listening to a forum on the erotics of tax policy. It's normally a measurement of star wattage when an actor beams through the dreck around him, but McConaughey's relentless, monkey-dimpled good cheer isn't contagious it's annoyingly impervious. You could put this guy on the deck of the Titanic 10 minutes after it hit the iceberg, and he'd still be looking on the bright side, cracking wise, high on his ''Ya know ya cain't resist me!'' cornpone-beefcake charm.
As McConaughey's ex-wife, lured back by his sexy adventurer's spirit (the flip side of his flaky refusal to grow up), Kate Hudson is as blah and dazed as her costar is cloyingly enthused. If it's possible to have too even a tan, Hudson in Fool's Gold would be the poster child for it. Her bronze glaze stiffens her, hardening the sparkle in her face. She goes through the motions of vivacity, but she seems to have forgotten that she's a star, and so do we. Fool's Gold makes you long for the half-baked amusement of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, in which the same pair's peppy hostility was less canned than the contraption it powered. D