Disney’s National Treasure

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie National Treasure, the basic premise as found on IMdB:

A treasure hunter is in hot pursuit of a mythical treasure that has been passed down for centuries, while his employer turned enemy is onto the same path that he’s on.

We won’t talk about the ridiculousness of this, or the gaping plot holes (like how the bad guy always seems just moments behind the good guys, even though the good guys have all the deciphering tools). What I found very amusing was the romantic storyline, which isn’t highlighted on IMdB:

Quirky geek treasure hunter and his trusty sidekick meet annoying female, kidnap her and then she just wants to tag along because, darnit, she’s a quirky geek treasure hunter herself. QGT can’t stand the woman, they bicker. Until near the end, when things get hairy and they all get themselves captured by the bad guys and he decides the bickering is really lurve and they get all smoochy.

Nearly nothing is better than verbal sparring matches and annoyance  equalling true love. All Disney would have had to do to up the ante was make the sidekick fall for the woman himself so they’d have a nice love triangle going.

But I digress. What I wanted to mention was the last time I watched this movie, I watched it with four forty-somethings, two thirteen year old girls, three eleven year old boys, an eight year old boy and girl, and a five year old girl. I’m early thirties.  The moment the romance angle was revealed on screen, everyone groaned and rolled their eyes. Not one of us in the room 1) bought the romance and 2) had major interest in it at all. It was a red herring.

That was a pretty decently diverse audience. If not one of us appreciated that angle of the story (actually, all of us expressed much enthusiasm whenever the sidekick appeared on screen – we all loved him and wanted to see more of him), just who are they writing that crap for? And why does two people bickering automatically translate into some deep-seated attraction?

Comments

  1. says

    And why does two people bickering automatically translate into some deep-seated attraction?

    It’s like the writers are thinking about their days in elementary school, when a boy teasing a girl meant he liked her. But, honestly, elementary school isn’t the best place to find models for adult attractions and interactions, y’know?

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    One might be tempted to infer that some writers never moved beyond gradeschool models of interactions between women and men.

    Not that I would ever infer that. Oh, goodness no. But some might. ‘)

  3. Graculus says

    Oh noes! We must shoehorn a romantic sub-plot in for the teenage girls who otherwise won’t have anything to identify with when their boyfriends bring them along to the cinema (paying for the tickets and their popcorn, of course, because girls can’t do that…) and then they’ll be bored because everyone knows that teenage girls don’t like anything but icky romancy stuff and though they didn’t actually pay for the tickets them not being happy would be Bad.

    I usually just put it down to yet another use of ‘how to insert romance in your storyline’ from the Mediocre Movie-writer’s Checklist:

    Perky/feisty heroine? Check
    Pigtail pulling = twu wuv really? Check
    Covering for the fact our male lead has more chemistry with the other guys? Check

  4. SunlessNick says

    There’s this resilient myth that the highest/best kind of tension is sexual – therefore, if two people argue and fight a lot, it must be because of sexual attraction.

  5. scarlett says

    There’s an article in here (I think of Beta’s) about Alias whos sentiment I agree on – one of the best tensions I ever saw was Sloane and Sydney trying to outwit one another.
    That, and all the various factions in Battlestar trying to outwit each other…

  6. Jennifer Kesler says

    Oh, HELL, yeah. Sydney had a fascinating antagonistic chemistry with Sloan; a beautiful comrade chemistry with Dixon; a great, tense dynamic with her dad and later her mom; a lovely friendship chemistry with Will and Eric, and so on.

    The only person she didn’t have chemistry with was Vaughn.

  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    They really just don’t get it, do they? It’s not hard for the informed human to tell real bickering from sexual tension bickering. In real life, I think the second form is far rarer than TV would have you believe.

    I think these guys just took notes during Moonlighting but didn’t really get why it worked… for a while. And they definitely didn’t pay attention to why it fell apart. The traditional answer was “It’s all over when they go to bed”, but that wasn’t really the problem. It was all over when there was a writers guild strike and they brought in scab writer hacks who just didn’t get it.

  8. sbg says

    I suppose it goes hand in hand with the theory that every leading male must hook up with their leading female. Meh.

    I’m so tired of the same things being dragged out in movies. The formula was boring to start with, now it’s just annoying.

  9. sbg says

    Ugh.

    The sad thing is, if my two nieces are anything to go by (and one of them was 14, I just remembered, and now the other one is as well), that’s just not true. I mean, from their perspective, the lead characters were old and uninteresting. They liked the cute, funny geek. ;)

  10. sbg says

    All I know is, I’d be “in love” with a lot of people because I like to snark with them if that were truly the case. I’m not, so either I’m doing this bicker/banter thing wrong or…

  11. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’m not sure I’ve ever seen people in real life bicker like that and then suddenly realize they’re mad for each other. It makes good drama, but I can’t relate to it because it’s so out there.

  12. Graculus says

    I wonder if the fact that no less than five people are creditted with being involved in either the story or the screenplay didn’t help make this feel like action-movie-by-numbers?

    Oh, and while I might have bought Nicolas Cage as a geek in The Rock, it’s been a while…

    Still, someone must have been happy with it – there’s apparently a sequel in the works for Christmas 2007!

  13. SunlessNick says

    Vaughn lacked chemistry with most of the cast; sometimes I wonder if it was a deliberate choice, and sometimes I wonder of Vaughn was originally meant to have as prominent a role as he did.

  14. sbg says

    They probably very quickly saw him as pretty male character that they could pair with their pretty female character and so increased his role accordingly. Chemistry doesn’t matter when it’s the lead/lead romance, don’t you know? ;)

  15. Genevieve says

    I know I’m coming into this rather late, as I’m reading all the old Hathor entries backwards upon discovering how amazing the writing here is–but…my closest male friend in high school and I had a pretty bickery-bantery friendship–we could argue about stuff forever–but we never hooked up. Why? Because as close of friends as we were, we were not physically attracted to one another, even though I’m attractive and he’s attractive. That’s how things usually go in real life.

  16. says

    Hey, welcome to the site, Genevieve!

    I’ve actually had a lot of people tell me it is not possible for two people, both attractive and oriented toward the other’s gender, not to be attracted to each other. But I agree with you – specific attractions aren’t guaranteed by general attractiveness.

  17. sbg says

    my closest male friend in high school and I had a pretty bickery-bantery friendship–we could argue about stuff forever–but we never hooked up. Why? Because as close of friends as we were, we were not physically attracted to one another, even though I’m attractive and he’s attractive. That’s how things usually go in real life.

    How could you go against such a standard entertainment trope like that?! I’m all agog. (And am being totally sarcastic.)

    Now, I don’t doubt for a second the bicker-bicker-bicker-OMG lurve! thing happens on occasion – but every single time? I don’t buy it.

    While I was visiting the same family I saw the first National Treasure movie with over the holidays, we went to a matinee of the sequel…and we all went to see Riley Poole, in spite of the lead/lead romance (which was oh-so-cleverly enhanced by them being “broken up” at first, so they could get back together by the end).

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