I didn't think much of the first National Treasure when it hit the screens a few years back (my review called it "equal parts forced banter, moronic plot device, omnipresent exposition and oh-so-familiar chase"), but I'm man enough to admit that the flick has managed to grow on me a bit after subsequent viewings. I still wouldn't come close to calling National Treasure an overlooked gem or anything like that, but perhaps I was expecting a bit too much from the movie the first time around.

So I told you all that so I could tell you this: National Treasure 2 (oh, sorry, National Treasure: Book of Secrets) won't be getting the same reprieve, simply because I'll never watch it again. Some movies deserve a second look ... and some sequels are just unquestionably witless. But hey, if you're one of those movie-watchers who loves to get the same old schpiel, recycled repeatedly, simply because people prefer things that are familiar over things that are different, then I suppose you'll wring two diverting hours out of this cookie-cutter retread. But even if you like the flick more than I did, I guarantee you'll have forgotten all about the experience in less than 24 hours. Movies like this make you wonder if sequels are more punishment than reward. (Obviously they're neither: They're commerce.)

For those who missed the first flick, here's the general gist on both: Nicolas Cage is a nerdly-yet-slick treasure hunter / historian, and apparently his job is to discover maps and clues that have somehow remained hidden from hundreds of previous treasure hunter / historians. In both movies, Ben Gates (Cage) has a powerfully annoying sidekick (Justin Bartha) who serves two purposes: Grade school-level quips of alleged comic relief, and the ability to do literally ANYTHING with electronics. He also has a blonde love interest (Diane Kruger, and the duo exhibit about as much chemistry as gym class), a dad (Jon Voight) who repeats every single plot point (for the extra-stupid viewers), and a pair of screenplays that are just a bit more believable than, say, Independence Day.