Nick Cage as Benjamin Gates in National Treasure. He’s a guy who loves history, and adventure, and is motivated by treasure. And much like little Mikey Walsh, he got the bug from his dad. Both characters use antiquated maps to find treasure underground.
But the similarities don’t end there. Mikey Walsh has asthma. Benjamin Gates has some sort of disorder that makes him speak in an unnatural breathy manner, like he’s trying to shout, exhale, and whisper at the same time. It also helps that Cage’s character is so simplistic and emotionally one-dimensional that there’s hardly anything besides the ability to shave separating him from an earnest, intelligent 12 year old boy.
There is, however, one revealing difference. While the Goonies’ treasure hunt is pretty far-fetched, Gates’s are impossible, both historically (the first movie gets the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence wrong) and logically (the first movie is about a treasure map that is hidden on the back of the Declaration of Independence). When viewed as a latter-day Mikey, Gates actually makes more sense. He’s a crazy person.
After experiencing the unlikely payoff of One Eyed Willie’s gold, Mikey has retreated to the only place that he could possibly replicate that success: An imaginary world of his own design, where, to quote Gates in National Treasure 2: Book Of Secrets, “The past is filled with incredible mysteries. The clues to solving them are all around, hidden in plain sight.” The National Treasure films all take place inside Gates’ head, like the first half of Beautiful Mind if that movie never acknowledged that John Nash was hallucinating his top secret government missions.