December 27, 2007


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National Treasure: Book of Secrets (PG)
Nicholas Cage and his very strange hair follow a new set of clues to a new hidden treasure in National Treasure: Book of Secrets, a movie which, like its originator, is ideal for keeping family members of varying ages and movie tastes more or less content for two hours.

And, if you have family around for the next week or so, that might be very important to you.

Treasure-hunter and puzzle-solver Ben (Cage) and his dad Patrick Gates (Jon Voight) are at a conference when Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) besmirches the name of their ancestor Ye Olde Gates by saying that Ye Olde was part of the conspiracy to kill President Lincoln. Ben worships Lincoln the way that tweens worship the kids from those High School Musical movies so he sets out to prove Wilkinson wrong, bringing along his lil buddy Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and his best girl Abigail (Diane Kruger), who has technically broken up with him but that hardly matters for the purposes of this scavenger hunt. Patrick and soon even Ben’s mom Emily (Helen Mirren), an expert in ancient languages, join the chase — and it truly is a chase because Wilkinson and his men are always close behind Ben and his gang. The Gates’ and Co. travel to Paris (for a gander at one of the Statues of Liberty), to London (to get a look at the Queen’s desk), back to Washington, D.C., (for a peek in the Oval Office), briefly kidnap the very understanding president (Bruce Greenwood) and eventually end up at Mount Rushmore.

If you find yourself asking questions like “how are there Olmecs in South Dakota?” then you are paying way too much attention to this movie. This is a Jerry Bruckheimer special — lots of loud noise and snazzy camera angles and one extended crack-’em-up car chase. (Many of the special effects seem related to Cage’s hair, which is stiff-looking and puffed out and looks a bit like it’s wig, perhaps to hide a radically different hair cut for another movie or a lack of hair in needed areas all together.) Impossible mission, funny quip, comical error, big chase — that is the science behind this movie. Don’t come at it with your “logic” or your “accurate knowledge of history” unless you want the whole shaky house of cards to come down on you.

For a movie that is completely absurd, National Treasure: Book of Secrets isn’t bad, though it could have been shorter. Turn off your brain and the movie will accomplish what I assume is its intended mission — to keep your eyes glued to it for two hours. C+

Rated PG for some violence and action. Directed by Jon Turteltaub and written by Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley, Gregory Poirier, Tedd Elliott and Terry Rossio (characters by Jim Kouf, Oren Aviv and Charles Segars), National Treasure: Book of Secrets is two hours and four minutes long and is distributed by Buena Vista Pictures.