‘National Treasure’ coming to Netflix: the fall and fall of Nicolas Cage

Hunter Goddard

Correction: A previous version of this post stated Nicolas Cage “went bankrupt” in 2009. He did not file for bankruptcy, but he did have financial issues in that time period, including foreclosure on several properties and a $6.2 million tax lien from the IRS. The Collegian regrets its error.

What the hell happened to Nic Cage?

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National Treasure” will be uploaded onto Netflix later this month on April 27. It is a sadistic reminder of just how irreparably this once-promising actor’s career has crashed and burned. The Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus is spot-on: “‘National Treasure’ is no treasure.”

But that was back in 2004. More recently, Cage has made an accidental cult classic out of “The Wicker Man” with his absurd “NOT THE BEES” performance in 2006. Last year, he starred in “Left Behind,” which has an astonishing 2 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

(Dis)honorable mention goes out to these other dismal titles in his filmography: “Con Air” (those luscious locks though), “Gone in Sixty Seconds,” “Ghost Rider,” “Next,” “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” (even worse than the first one), “Bangkok Dangerous” and “Knowing.”

Nowadays, it defies belief that NICOLAS CAGE IS A LITERAL OSCAR WINNER. In 1996, he earned the Academy Award for Best Actor after delivering his heartbreaking turn as a suicidal alcoholic in “Leaving Las Vegas.”

Before that, Cage (whose legal name is “Coppola”) starred in uncle Francis Ford Coppola’s “Peggy Sue Got Married” (1986). Yes, THAT Francis Ford Coppola, as in,”The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now.” This makes Cage related to Talia Shire and Jason Schwatzman as well.

But Cage brings so much more to “Peggy Sue” than just Hollywood dynasty nepotism. He is the heartthrob of Coppola’s tragicomic, time-traveling love story. Yes, you read that right – Nicolas Cage used to be a heartthrob, and one who can sing, too.

He went on to put a panty on his head and showcase his slapstick chops in the Coen Brothers’ “Raising Arizona” in 1987. For those of you who are fans of the Coens’ “The Big Lebowski,” “Raising Arizona” is no less hysterical.

In 1997, Cage costarred alongside John Travolta in “Face/Off,” a thriller with a ridiculous premise – two men surgically switch faces – but watching Cage imitate Travolta and Travolta imitate Cage is well worth the price of admission.

There is no doubt that Nicolas Cage is one talented individual, practically groomed for superstardom from birth, but, somewhere along the way, something went horribly wrong. Perhaps that talent was his own undoing – he is notorious for his unhinged, over-the-top persona.

In any case, he faced foreclosure on several properties and received a $6.2 million tax lien in 2009, according to AARP.org, despite raking in enough earnings to be one of the highest-paid actors in the business, and he gave his son Superman’s birth name: “Kal-El.” Arguably, he is more famous now for being the “You don’t say?” meme than he is for his acting.

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Every artist has their peak. For example, Matt Groening’s “The Simpsons” should have gone off the air 10 years ago. What’s different about Nicolas Cage, however, is that he is not just past his prime – he’s become such a punchline that it’s like there never even WAS a prime.

But there WAS a prime Nic Cage, once upon a time, and, hopefully, his “prime” is salvageable. He can be a joy to watch, but it’s hard watching his earlier work, knowing what direction his career will take. It’s like watching a young Mel Gibson and knowing what a jerk he will become.

At least he isn’t as bad as Mel Gibson.

Get it together, Nicolas Cage. The Coppolas are more well-known now for their wine than for their movies, and you don’t even have their name going for you anymore.

Collegian A&E Writer Hunter Goddard can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @hunter_gaga.