January 22, 1999
A true comedic treasure lies waiting to be discovered in Jeffrey Janger's outstanding feature debut, Fools Gold. Flimp Lopez and Sam Wechter, "the Spanish and the Jew," are outcasts in the near ghost town of Oiltown, Oklahoma, where they work in a local junkyard. As they long for the high life, their drunken curiosity about rumors of a wealthy "Spanish" who has moved to town quickly propels them to a prominent place on the FBI's Most Wanted List. The accidental outlaws skip town with little idea of what has hit them. On the road, they meet two women who apparently are willing to be their partners in crime. But, as with just about everything in this film, things are not what they seem. Meanwhile, their trail is picked up by an FBI agent who spends as much time contemplating his disheveled relationship with his daughter as looking for the criminals. More than simply a quirky comedy, Fools Gold plays with racial identity, stereotypes, and audience expectation. Deliberately defying convention to take the film into uncharted territory, Janger (whose short, Bagel and Lox, played at Sundance in 1995) effectively draws from the actors comic performances that are deftly realized and dry as a bone. The early scenes and characters in the small Oklahoma town are as memorably funny as any in recent memory. As constantly surprising in story line as it is hilarious, Fools Gold plays with the concept of misperceptions on numerous levels, but is itself very much the real thing.