You liked Rocky. You loved Witness. And now readers have flooded The Inquirer’s “One Movie, One Philadelphia” with excellent suggestions for other movies to watch together while we’re in lockdown — the strong favorite being Blow Out, the 1981 Bicentennial thriller with John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, and Dennis Franz (as lowlife Manny Karp, the anti-Sipowicz).
But before we move on to Brian De Palma and his R-rated hooker noir, we wanted to find something appropriate for all ages to watch this weekend and weigh in on. (Watch anytime, and leave your comments here before midnight Sunday.)
Which brings us to National Treasure — the 2004 box office hit featuring Nicolas Cage as a historian and treasure hunter using the Declaration of Independence (and its invisible ink) as a map to a priceless hoard hidden by the Founding Fathers.
The movie is ridiculous, and yet a fine specimen of what profligate Hollywood can sometimes achieve in terms of big-budget cheesy grandeur, sparing no expense to deliver irresistibly derivative product (Indiana Jones on a scavenger hunt).
The preposterous story line somehow puts wind in its sails (remember the Charlotte?), and the movie is highly family friendly, with a wholesome PG rating. (There’s some action violence and a couple scary images.)
Also, though Philly is only part of its Acela Express narrative (DC to Philadelphia to New York to Boston) the 20 minutes we do spend in Philly captures the city at its tourist-destination best, and of course plays up its unique role in the nation’s history (in the cheesiest possible way).
So dip back into the 2004 cheese bowl this weekend and tell us what you think.
Topics for discussion: Nic Cage. National Treasure was Cage at his conventional peak. He’d just made Adaptation for Charlie Kaufman and Matchstick Men for Ridley Scott, paired with Sam Rockwell, who was then an underappreciated talent.
National Treasure was a box office hit, as was its sequel (the actor’s two highest-grossing), but this was also the point when Cage’s career became to take a more eccentric, less lucrative direction.
The actor recently revealed his method in a fascinating New York Times interview about his dinosaur skulls, pet cobras, pyramid power (National Treasure reference?), and personal grail quests.
What’s your favorite out-there Cage turn or guilty pleasure? Mine is his Werner Herzog collaboration Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.
Speaking of post-Treasure performances, costar Diane Kruger’s work in a German movie called In The Fade was phenomenal. And I like the irony of Treasure sidekick Justin Bartha helping Cage decipher clues to find buried loot — just five years later, the guys in The Hangover would be backtracking, using a series of clues to try to find Justin Bartha.
What’s your favorite National Treasure location? The movie actually makes geographical sense, unlike the famous Rocky run. Henchmen run from Independence Hall to 5th and Chestnut, which is reasonable. Their quarry (Bartha and Kruger) run to Reading Terminal, then City Hall.
National Treasure is easy to find on streaming, for as little as $2.99. Watch from home anytime this weekend, and add your comments here. Or join the discussion on The Inquirer Facebook page and @PhillyInquirer. We’ll highlight the best ones Monday.