They are reunited in an adventure comedy by the name of Fool's Gold, though it could have been called "How to Lose an Audience in 10 Minutes."
A soggy, listless affair, this would-be fun-in-the-sun sunken-treasure frivolity starts taking on water from the get-go, thanks to drawn-out exposition and languid pacing.
Director Andy Tennant has demonstrated a Midas touch with such movies as Hitch and Sweet Home Alabama, though without a Will Smith or Reese Witherspoon to ride out those rough patches, "Fool's Gold" likely will mine a lot less lucre, especially given a market that's currently awash in date-night fare.
McConaughey's Ben "Finn" Finnegan is a career booty hunter whose burning obsession concerns the legendary Queen's Dowry, a shipload of priceless Spanish treasure believed to have sunk in Caribbean waters in the early 1700s.
His latest ill-fated expedition has landed him in deep water with ruthless rapper-gangster Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart), with whom he already is in escalating debt.
While Finn is being forced to walk the plank off Bigg Bunny's boat, his ex is about to mark the spot on their divorce papers.
Even though the Queen's Dowry was what initially brought them together, for the past eight years Kate Hudson's Tess has watched their marriage continually place second to Finn's undersea pursuits.
Determined to get her life back on track, she's been working as a steward aboard the Precious Gem, a huge yacht owned by billionaire Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland).
But when Finn finds a shard of a plate that puts the treasure in the immediate vicinity, all is forgiven, and the pair resume the joint hunt with Nigel's support, along with his alarmingly dimwitted daughter (an amusing Alexis Dziena).
Although it's easy to see the appeal of this sort of vehicle -- think a sexier National Treasure -- the end product, with a script credited to Tennant along with the team of John Claflin & Daniel Zelman, has all the buoyancy and shimmer of a shipwreck.
And it's not just all that water slowing everything down.
There's also endless speculating about the coordinates of the Queen's Dowry that gets so involved that Nigel's daughter isn't the only one whose eyes become permanently glazed over.
Not surprisingly, that escapist, tropical location (with Queensland, Australia, standing in for the Caribbean because of hurricane season) affords ample opportunity for topless scenes.
But enough about McConaughey.
Hudson, meanwhile, opts to keep her shirt on, and though she and her co-star have an easy chemistry, her stiffly written character harnesses her in a constricted performance that cheats the audience out of her usual comedic gifts.
Production values, from Don Burgess' sun-drenched cinematography to George Fenton's calypso-infused score, do their bit to set the breezy tone, but where's Jimmy Buffett when you really need him?
Warner Bros. presents a DeLine Pictures/Bernie Goldmann production
Director: Andy Tennant
Screenwriters: John Claflin & Daniel Zelman, Andy Tennant
Story: John Claflin & Daniel Zelman
Producers: Donald DeLine, Bernie Goldmann, John Klane
Executive producers: Wink Mordaunt, James R. Dyer
Director of photography: Don Burgess
Production designer: Charles Wood
Music: George Fenton
Co-producer: Stephen Jones
Costume designer: Ngila Dickson
Editors: Troy Takaki, Tracey Wadmore-Smith
Finn: Matthew McConaughey
Tess: Kate Hudson
Nigel Honeycutt: Donald Sutherland
Gemma Honeycutt: Alexis Dziena
Alfonz: Ewen Bremner
Moe Fitch: Ray Winstone
Bigg Bunny: Kevin Hart
Cordell: Malcolm-Jamal Warner
Running time -- 113 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13