Cami and I were able to catch an early matinee of National Treasure this weekend. An enjoyable ride, but very much a by-the-book action adventure film. Rouge hero? Check. A villain who betrays his confidence? Check. Mousy techno-geek who interjects glib one-liners for comedic effect? Check. Hot girl who tags along mid-way through the action? Check.

There isn’t anything in National Treasure that you haven’t seen a million times before. The “clues imbedded in American history” approach was an interesting device, but they’re so transparently lifting their inspiration from The Da Vinci Code, you keep thinking the film version of THAT script would be so much better to watch.

Something else that was very transparent to me was the several awkward product placements crammed into this movie. A lot of them appear after the film’s main set piece – The abduction of The Declaration of Independence.

While on the run, Nicholas Cage’s character stops to see his father Jon Voight. With the FBI hot on their tail, they tie up Voight to make it look like there were there to steal something from him and protect him from any guilt-by-association. As the Feds are questioning him, they inform him that his car has been stolen. Voight laments “My Cadillac STS!” Cut to the next scene and a big close up of the Cadillac emblem on the hood of the car. “You’re Dad has a sweet ride,” says the mousy techno-geek.

Dressed in formal wear – gowns and tuxes – Cage’s character suggests they go buy some less conspicuous clothes. Cut to an external shot of an Urban Outfitters! Ooo! Look at all those cool clothes they’re trying on! Don’t forget to pay with your Visa card (which gets another prominent close-up.)

Later in the movie when Cage is caught by the authorities, he’s called by the villainous treasure hunter Sean Bean to arrange a transfer of a valuable artifact. Of course he attempts to reach him on his Motorola cell phone. Before handing it to him, make sure the logo is PLAINLY VISIBLE!

I don’t know if I’m off my rocker and I’m the only person who notices this, but these kinds of product placements were screamingly obvious to me at several points in the movie. It distracted me from what little story there was.

I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been addressed by more competent essayists, but the amount of advertising we’re subjected to at the movies is becoming increasingly alarming. If there aren’t commercials in front of the trailers before the movie, they’re on the packaging of the popcorn and soda we buy. Now they’re inserting sponsorship into the plots of the VERY FILM you’re watching! This kind of cross-promotion is what advertising executives call “penetration”. This is ironic since I get the distinct impression that someone on Madison Avenue is trying to bend me over and have their way with me.

Hey, I understand it must be difficult being an advertising executive. Audiences are savvier to your techniques now than they have ever been in history. You have to CONSTANTLY find new and interesting ways to get your message out there and cut through the clutter. Heck, if you could tattoo the inside of our eyelids while we were sleeping, I’m sure you’d give it a shot.

But to paraphrase the late comedian Bill Hicks… “If you’re in advertising, do me a favor. Just… kill yourself. Get it over with right now. Kill yourself.” Because I don’t think I can tolerate any more commercials when I’m paying to be entertained and to be transported to a realm where these kinds of daily annoyances shouldn’t exist.

↓ Transcript
I thought National Treasure was an okay movie, but Man, there were so many awkward product placements!

Hold that thought, darling. I have to take this very important Verizon long-distance call on my Motorola cell phone!

What’s that? he ate all of your Doritos and drank all of your Pepsi? don’t say...

Then I guess you’ll have to go to Taco Bell and get the new fajita grilled stuft burrito!

How should you pay for it? Well, I suppose you could always charge it to your Visa!

No, I’m sure cami doesn’t mind that I’m talking to you on My Stylish Motorola V265 with picture messaging,

She’s just standing here admiring my new coat from Wilson’s Leather!

Perhaps if I took batting practice about your head with my Louisville Slugger we could get home before midnight?!

If you did, I might need Band-Aid brand adhesive strips and Neosporin antibiotic ointment!