Sunday, November 28, 2004

National Treasure

The biggest surprise about National Treasure (Jon Turteltaub 2004)--apart from having inexplicably become a commercial hit--is that it's so literal minded. In times like these you'd expect even the dumbest Hollywood hacks (and this film's writers are responsible for bottom-of-the-barrel concoctions like Snow Dogs, Bad Boys II and the blatantly racist Rush Hour) to find some kind of cultural resonance in the idea of national treasure. But no, treasure here is pretty much just treasure which may be just as well considering that there's nothing American about any of it. Not to mention that the historically incorrect Templar-Mason link is presented as fact.

Still, you might hope for some goofy B-movie entertainment but National Treasure is generally too pedestrian for that. Not that it's any worse than, say, a Boston Blackie or Charlie Chan film, just twice as long and ten times as loud. There's just enough character quirks and somewhat not-dull dialogue clearly grafted on to the hunt shenanigans that I'm willing to bet an uncredited script doctor was brought in to pump it up. Too bad he or she couldn't have been given the entire thing; certainly they couldn't have made a less implausible mess.