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Special to the DailyKimberly Nicoletti

Hollywood has an answer for people who don’t like to read and don’t want to wait another year to catch a glimpse of “The Da Vinci Code” craze: It’s called “National Treasure.”Much like “Antz” tried to steal the thunder from Pixar’s “A Bug’s Life” in 1998, it seems director Jon Turteltaub wants to cash in on “The Da Vinci Code” buzz before Ron Howard releases his cinematic version of the best-selling book next year. Only, “National Treasure” focuses on secret societies without the depth of religious overtones in Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code.”The movie spoon-feeds answers to ridiculously complex riddles, then hooks audiences with explosions, cliff-hangers and cleavage.

Not that that’s a bad thing (I think Dan Thomas would especially agree regarding the cleavage). As long as you buy a ticket expecting a typical Hollywood action flick, you can easily find two hours of entertainment in “National Treasure.”But that’s also the problem: If you’re searching for any kind of depth or plausibility in “National Treasure,” you may want to dig elsewhere.From the moment Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) walks a few steps north of the Arctic Circle, finds metal with his detector, digs a foot into the soft snow and discovers a long-sought-after 19th century ship, you know the movie isn’t going to go deep.Directors inject sentimental moments apparently meant to tug at patriotic heartstrings amidst the adrenaline-filled treasure hunt between good guys with a sexy sidekick and bad guys with accents.

If it weren’t for the manufactured tension in the good-guys-versus-bad-guys race, “National Treasure” would sink in a sea of superficiality. But with it, the movie works well enough.Glib comments, like an observation that the Declaration of Independence is nearly impossible to steal because “It’s surrounded by guards, video monitors and little kids on their eighth-grade field trips,” tame the building tension with chuckles. And the relationship between Ben Gates and Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) – though completely forced and undeveloped – provides that ever-so-important romance factor.

But the most intriguing element of “National Treasure” lies in the legend itself. It entices you study the symbols on our currency and question whether secret societies left behind clues to a hidden enigma. After spending $8 and some change at the theater, all it takes is the back of one dollar bill to provide endless hours of contemplation about how you could be the one to break the clandestine code.Kimberly Nicoletti is looking for a $100 bill to examine for clues, so if you have one to donate, call her at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, and she’ll meet you at a secret location.

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