Everyone loves an outlandish, harrowing tale ripped from the headlines. Recent films like Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Days have sought to examine some of America’s more stirring stories in recent memory, with mixed results. But just how effective is that based-on-a-true-story tag when the details veer too far into fabrication? Case in point, we have Gold.

In Gold, Matthew McConaughey portrays Kenny Wells, a go-for-broke Nevada prospector looking for a big payoff. While down to his last dollar and his prospecting company on life support, Wells has a dream that he finds his fortune in Indonesia. The next morning, he pawns his girlfriend’s (Bryce Dallas Howard) jewelry to book a flight to Southeast Asia where he attempts to convince famed geologist Michael Acosta (Édgar Ramírez) to help him find that spot he dreamt of in the jungle.

The whole film has an endearing, audacious swagger. Wells, Acosta and their cohorts are outsiders aiming to do the impossible and bend the knee for no one. When this rag tag team does finally strike gold, the excesses abound. Soon Wells is a hot commodity on Wall Street, glad-handed by bigwigs who snicker at the dreamer behind his back. Gold is based on the Bre-X scandal of the ‘90s, which ended in a gigantic fraud case. Without giving too much away, things are not quite what they seem for Wells’ suddenly skyrocketing company.

Honestly, the nouveau riche struggling to keep their integrity after amassing wealth has been handled more capably by countless prior films, like Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. McConaughey’s sweaty disposition, bad teeth, pot belly and horrendous, thin hair are also very distracting to say the least, especially considering no one from the true story looked quite like that, but McConaughey, as usual, is fully committed, and his uninhibited enthusiasm makes much of film work.

At its heart, the film aspires to rise above, in it own cockamamie way. Gold is a story filled with intrigue, exotic locations, shady deals and larger-than-life characters, but because it’s debatable just how much of this fable’s outlandish moments actually happened, it’s somewhat difficult arguing for this film’s existence.