Oscar winner in hideous haircut? Check. Love interest with foreign accent? Yup. Insanely convoluted treasure hunt involving multiple ancient clues to solve historical mystery? You know it. But this ain't The Da Vinci Code, folks. How can we tell? National Treasure: Book of Secrets is actually quite entertaining. Perhaps not so much if you still think of Nicolas Cage as a serious method actor, but if you've learned to enjoy his current incarnation of shticks and tics -- bugging out his eyes, smiling creepily at inappropriate moments, and RANDOMLY SHOUTING certain words for NO APPARENT REASON -- Jon Turteltaub's movie is for you. Cage's Benjamin Gates is so insanely patriotic that when his ancestor is smeared as a conspirator in the Lincoln assassination, he sets out to prove otherwise by kidnapping the president and striding into the top-secret areas of pretty much every major national landmark, which is doubly preposterous when you think about how conspicuous he is with all the yelling and wildly demonstrative hand gestures. If you can put all expectations of realism on hold, however, you'll be rewarded with a moderately pleasing diversion, featuring Justin Bartha as the amusing wiseass sidekick and Ed Harris doing a charmingly awful Old South accent. Helen Mirren's here, too, as Cage's inexplicably English mother -- Oscars apparently just don't pay the bills.
Sat., Dec. 29, 2007