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The DaVinci Code

Starring Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Jean Reno, Ian McKellen
Screenplay by Akiva Goldsman
Based on the novel by Dan Brown
Directed by Ron Howard

IN SHORT: Just an OK murder mystery. [Rated PG-13 for Disturbing Images, Violence, Some Nudity, Thematic Material, Brief Drug References and Sexual Content. 150 minutes]

Boy, if that MPAA Rating doesn't tell you all you need to know . . .

Considering that we don't go out of our way to display our email address (spam considerations, nothing personal...) in the month before its release, we've gotten dozens of form letters attacking the historical veracity of The Da Vinci Code. All begin with "The Da Vinci Code is a work of fiction!" and proceed to attack every (alleged) historical touchstone in the story. Yes, we know it is fiction. (well, duh). It is just as much a murder mystery and it kinda makes us wonder about how secure these writers are in their faith. What would happen, say, if Mel Brooks took apart the story, as he did with Moses and the Fifteen ("oops, sorry... Ten ...") Ten Commandments. . Oh, wait, Monty Python did it years ago. As I tell my born again friends, "We'll all know who's right when we die."

Of course, Cranky's had the near death thing so we have some insight... but we could be wrong so we'll not break any bubbles (Christian or otherwise) until the very bottom of this bit of reporting. We will get to the gist of the movie story, which involves a Harvard University professor of religious symbolism, Dr. Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), and the granddaughter of a murdered French something or other colleague of Langdon's, French police agent Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou). Said murder occurs within the halls of the famed Louvre Museum in Paris, at the hands of an albino monk (Paul Bettany). Said murder is Formally Investigated by one Captain Bezu Fache (Jean Reno) who, convinced that Langdon is the actual murderer, hunts the pair all across Europe, following an agenda all his own. Fache, you see, is a member of Opus Dei, a secret society buried deep within the Catholic Church. . . don't leave your seat for a second once the film starts or you'll never be able to follow the overachieving story, which speculates that the Holy Grail is not a cup, but a girl named Sarah, the daughter of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. Sarah's descendents are watched over to this day by the Priory of Zion, yet another secret society buried deep within the Catholic Church. Leonardo Da Vinci was once a grand master of this society. Thus the title.

Shoe-horned into the convoluted story is a subplot about a blackmail attempt on the RC Church, and a big cover-up payout overseen by Bishop Aringarosa (Alfred Molina), who may have his own connections to the overall story, an anything but simple murder mystery which also involves a search for the sarcophagus of Mary Magdalene and the revelation of who JC's presumed heir is. Most moviegoers will figure out the latter long before the film is finished.

Boy, we hope we relayed the film's story correctly. Cranky's just a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn. We never did understand why our devout christian friends got so incensed at the idea that God, becoming human to understand the human experience He created, would actually experience some of the stuff he mandates we all do. Like getting married and procreating. There are two disavowed gospels that imply such, which the film covers in a rousing debate between the Langdon character and Sir Leigh Teabing (Ian McKellen), yet another colleague to whom the "murderous pair" flee for help and shelter. That being said, and despite the skills of director Ron Howard, The Da Vinci Code rests entirely on the shoulders of Tom Hanks. It is a mighty effort and one worth watching.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Da Vinci Code, he would have paid . . .


Yeah, we felt the hand of God during our "near death experience," which was quite wonderful, actually. We didn't see deceased relatives, as you'd expect, but a fully restored gay friend who had died of AIDS related illnesses six months earlier. So nyah nyah to all zealots.

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