15 years ago, Walt Disney Pictures graced us with a family adventure movie for the ages. One that would redefine the course of American history forever. Yes, we're talking about National Treasure. 

Nicolas Cage plays Benjamin Franklin Gates, a history buff who comes from a long line of treasure hunters who have dedicated their lives to tracking down the Knights Templar Treasure, which spans back to pre-colonial America. A hidden encryption inside an antique pipe reveals a clue that suggests the answer to solving the mystery can be found on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

When friend-turned-foe Ian Howe (Sean Bean) is willing to capture the famous document at all costs, Ben and his adorkable techie sidekick Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) have to do the unthinkable. They have to steal the Declaration of Independence. With a powerhouse cast including Diane Kruger as National Archives employee Dr. Abigail Chase, Jon Voigt as Patrick Gates, and Harvey Keitel as FBI Agent Sedusky, National Treasure is far better than it has any right to be.

While critical reception to the movie was mixed upon its release in 2004, National Treasure has had one notable effect on culture: the spawn of some hilarious Nicolas Cage memes. And if we're being perfectly honest, this movie still holds up. Cage gives an incredibly impassioned performance, carrying an entirely implausible premise on his broad shoulders. And for family-friendly fare, National Treasure also packs in quite a history lesson to boot.

The movie was followed up with National Treasure: Book of Secrets in 2007. After all this time, we still have one question for Disney... "Where the hell is National Treasure 3?" The sequel left the doors wide open for a third feature, which had been in talks up until last year. Maybe there's still hope for a new installment in the franchise on the Disney+ front, but nothing has been confirmed.

Even if we never get another dose of these strangely endearing movies, we can be thankful that they delivered a very important message: Nicolas Cage truly is a national treasure.

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