National Treasure

  • Review Date: May 1, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Historical adventure is a fun romp for tweens and up.
  • Review Date: May 1, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 90 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Though the "good guys" are trying to prevent the Declaration of Independence from being stolen, they break laws and engage in reckless behavior in order to protect it.

Positive role models

Ben Gates shows that he is an intelligent, curious fellow who is as passionate about history as he is about his family legacy. But he does lie to people to achieve his goals.


Brief sword fighting, two images of faces of frozen corpses, explosions, moderately frequent gun play. Perilous car chases. A character falls to his death from a great height. No blood.


Men ogle Dr. Chase's physique. Main characters kiss. Characters change clothes behind changing room doors.


"God" as an exclamation, and a German form of "damn."


Cadillac emblem on car is featured and a character calls the car a "sweet ride." A stop at Urban Outfitters features actors going on a shopping spree and having a conversation as they try on clothes. Spoils of treasure include a Ferrari.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Ben is shown throwing back a glass of champagne at a party, as if to drink to give himself courage before a heist. Characters drink socially at a party.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this action movie has a handful of explosions and some gunshots being fired at characters and into crowds. Characters are in frequent peril and some are taken hostage. The historical aspect is especially interesting for conspiracy theorists and treasure hunters, if a little fuzzy when it comes to nailing down actual facts. A minor character is killed (offscreen). When Ben says he is in trouble, his father asks if the woman he has with him is pregnant. There is a lot of reckless and irresponsible behavior, even within the traditions of this genre.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage) comes from a long line of treasure hunters who have been been chasing a legendary treasure for generations. Ben is determined to solve the mystery with the help of his sidekick Riley (Justin Batha) and an unlikely ally played by Diane Kruger, who is the guardian of the Declaration of Independence. Meanwhile Ben's former colleague and financial backer, Ian (Sean Bean), has betrayed Ben and is trying to find the treasure for himself. With ingenuity, some help from family and friends, and a lot of luck, Ben and his crew might just solve the legend and find the treasure before his enemies do. Along the way, the treasure hunt will take them to historic sites in Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York, from the highest of high-tech security to the ricketiest of ancient catacombs.

Is it any good?


Well, it's not Raiders of the Lost Ark, but there are enough thrills and mysteries in this rather clean Disney flick to have made it a hit. The jokes are a little lame, even though Nicholas Cage does his best to bring some spark into his parrying with Diane Kruger's sexy-intellectual portrayal of Dr. Chase. Some weaknesses in the script are plain silly: the hologram emblazoned on the back of the Declaration of Independence, for example, is just laughable.

But history buffs will be happy to fact-check which of the Founding Fathers were indeed Freemasons, and kids can marvel at the buried ship, the code-breaking, and the subterranean caverns and structures, which may or may not contain treasure. Parents of young kids should watch out for the big explosions and the perilous kidnapping scenes which could disrupt the sensitive viewer. No, it's not a NATIONAL TREASURE, but it has good production value and star power -- which counts for something.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about their own family legends and heirlooms. What are some of the stories associated with them? What do you do to make sure they're safe?

  • Talk about how movies and TV can alter the facts of history. What sources do you use to learn the true facts of history?

  • What kinds of messages about taking risks and breaking the law does this movie contain? What's the difference between thrilling entertainment and encouraging bad behavior?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 19, 2004
DVD release date:May 3, 2005
Cast:Harvey Keitel, Justin Bartha, Nicolas Cage
Director:Jon Turteltaub
Studio:Buena Vista
Topics:Adventures, History
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:action violence and some scary images

This review of National Treasure was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 6, 11, 15, and 17 year old Written bychrissyridergirl June 29, 2010

One of our favs.

Awesome movie. Definitely great for the whole family (parents included!!) Hopefully they will EVENTUALLY come out with a third movie.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Written byAnonymous March 14, 2010
I'm sorry, I don't know why Commonsense Reviewing decided to rate is two stars, because this movie is educational and entertaining. National Treasure is a great movie with a great plot and good acting. This movie tells kids a lot of cool information about historic figures such as Charles Carrol, Andrew Jackson, and George Washington.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 11 years old June 21, 2009

good movie

great history movie


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