The Da Vinci Crud

25 May 2006 · 14 comments

You gotta love Anthony Lane. The man is a comic genius. Check out his review of the The Da Vinci Code — both the film and the book — a review so deliciously scathing that I had to read it twice. And laughed at the same jokes each time.

How timid — how undefended in their powers of reason — must people be in order to yield to such preening? Are they reading “The Da Vinci Code” because everybody on the subway is doing the same, and, if so, why, when they reach their stop, do they not realize their mistake and leave it on the seat, to be gathered up by the next sucker? Despite repeated attempts, I have never managed to crawl past page 100. As I sat down to watch “The Da Vinci Code,” therefore, I was in the lonely, if enviable, position of not actually knowing what happens.

Oh, goodness.

I’ve tried to start The Da Vinci Code, too, but can’t make it past the first couple pages. They’re awful. Kris read it and pronounced it rubbish. It’s a shame that poorly-written stuff like this makes a gajillion dollars while better-written stuff languishes unread.


What else does Lane have to say? Well, let’s see:

Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, except at Columbia Pictures, where the power lunches won’t even be half-started. The Catholic Church has nothing to fear from this film. It is not just tripe. It is self-evident, spirit-lowering tripe that could not conceivably cause a single member of the flock to turn aside from the faith. Meanwhile, art historians can sleep easy once more, while fans of the book, which has finally been exposed for the pompous fraud that it is, will be shaken from their trance. In fact, the sole beneficiaries of the entire fiasco will be members of Opus Dei, some of whom practice mortification of the flesh. From now on, such penance will be simple—no lashings, no spiked cuff around the thigh. Just the price of a movie ticket, and two and a half hours of pain.

The Da Vinci Code: 23% at Rotten Tomatoes (11% from big-name critics) — that’s worse than RV or The Shaggy Dog.

Anyone surprised?

1 Nikchick May 25, 2006 at 12:38

I don’t buy that the book, or the movie, are as terrible as people want to say. Clearly anyone who thinks the book is particularly bad hasn’t read nearly enough of the ridiculous books on the best seller lists, the vapid “chick lit,” so-called thrillers and other rubbish that one is forced to consider when trapped in an airport bookstore or a corner drug store in the midwest.

I read the book before it was “a thing” and thought it was just fine. Not earth-shattering, certainly, but it passed the time and touched on several nutjob theories of the sort that you might have seen featured on In Search Of….

Does the Catholic church have anything to fear from this work of fiction? No. And it’s ridiculous that they would think they did. Are God-fearing Christians going to turn from their faith because of this stitched-together fantasy? Puh-lease. I don’t buy it.

Of the regular bloggers I follow who have had any manner of nasty things to say about the book or the movie, very few of them have made any arguments against either that didn’t boil down to typical elitist fanboy behavior (ala “Templars are cool and this movie screws them up!” or “Anyone interested in this subject matter should just read Holy Blood, Holy Grail instead.”) I even saw one woman complaining about the age difference between the Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou as evidence that Hollywood sucks and can’t cast a woman Hanks’ age to star opposite him, or another guy who complained that the way the movie shows different pieces of the puzzle lighting up as Hanks’ character mentally concentrates on them “lamely” robbed movie viewers of the chance to “figure out” the puzzle for themselves.

Blah blah blah, guess you struck a nerve with me on this one. :) Chris and I actually went to see the movie last night and I was thinking about how all of the criticism I’d been seeing just seemed over-blown and needless. Hell, even the National Organization for Albinism is up in arms because the creepy bad-guy is an albino. There is no way in hell this movie is as awful (or as offensive to humanity) as The Shaggy Dog or RV or Slither or Poseidon or Saw II…

2 Jules Cooper May 25, 2006 at 12:45

I’m glad the movie and the book are out there. Don’t like the picture of the burning book on this blog. People have the right to choose if they want to read/see something or not. I have a problem with groups that want all reading/viewing distilled down to what is “right and proper” according to their version of history/ethics/religion/morals. If someone believes in something truly–then they don’t need to be threatened by others beliefs of different truths.

3 J.D. May 25, 2006 at 12:51

Blah blah blah, guess you struck a nerve with me on this one. :)

Heh. That was partly my intention.

Mostly I think the review is hilarious (Anthony Lane is the closest I get to reading/hearing Joel, especially now that he’s procreated).

I grant that I’m being an elitist fanboy. :)

By the by: Poseidon is not nearly as bad as the reviews paint it. In fact, I’m hard-pressed to figure out why it received negative reviews. It’s not great by any means, and probably not even good, but it’s certainly not bad. It’s a perfectly serviceable summer actioner.

4 Mom May 25, 2006 at 13:02

I feel that Dan Brown performed somewhat of a service in writing “The DaVinci Code,” sensational and unbelievable as the premise is, because of the so-called serious research that purports to support a history of a human Holy Grail as portrayed in the novel and movie. I personally don’t buy it, but to burn the book is almost as bad as putting out a hit out on Salman Rushdie for what he wrote.

5 toast May 25, 2006 at 13:32

sensational and unbelievable as the premise is

I don’t intend to read or watch this book/film, but I get incredibly confused when members of the faithful declare that suggestions of a 2000 year old sexual relationship are “unbelievable”. Maybe Mom is talking about the ongoing vatican conspiracy and man eating albinos?

What would happen to a book or film that simply portrayed Jesus as a 1st century David Blaine?

6 Kris May 25, 2006 at 13:44

Isn’t that man just burning a book cover?

7 Mom May 25, 2006 at 13:52

Man eating albinos? I didn’t read about anything of that nature in the book; neither was there such a thing in the movie. I was partly referring to the Vatican conspiracy thing, although suppression of fact in the name of religion is not new.

Your Jesus-as-David Blaine idea, toast, would certainly have many of the faithful up in arms. I read the word “blasphemy” a lot on Catholic blogs about the “Code,” though; I’m not sure there would be quite the same reaction from them if your idea became reality.

There were burnings of the book in India, Kris.

8 J.D. May 25, 2006 at 15:01

No matter how lame The Da Vinci Code is, I think everyone would be better served if people were burning Stones From the River instead. Brrr… I get chills (and not in a good way) just thinking about that awful book.


9 Dave May 25, 2006 at 17:18

I didn’t read the book, but listened to it via Audible (in abridged version). It was mildly entertaining as potboilers go. On the other hand, it was also something that was clearly a novel, not any type of historical work, and equally clearly was written to appeal to a mass audience. If you want a more intellectually interesting book on the topic, look up “Holy Blood, Holy Grail”, by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln. The authors just lost a lawsuit in England in which they claimed that Dan Brown cribbed the majority of the concepts for “Davinci” from their book. My recollection is that the name of the main bad guy in the book is derived from the names of those three authors. Frankly, having gone through both books I’m not sure WHY they lost, but they did.

Not that the whole premise isn’t crap (after all, there’s no historical evidence that “Jesus” existed, much less that he did anything else like create offspring), but “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” is a more challenging read.

10 Dave May 25, 2006 at 17:20

Oh, yeah. Templars rule, Jesuits drool!

11 Jim Osmer May 25, 2006 at 21:08

my mother-in-law bought me Dan Brown’s “Angel and Demons” and it was horrible. bad tv style dialogue with very stereotypical characters. I was amazed at how amateur it read.
If you want good historical fiction, go try Tim Power DECLARE or ON STRANGER TIDES.

12 Michael Rawdon May 26, 2006 at 09:33

Speaking of big, hyped books, I just started Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell for my book discussion group. Talk about slow-going! It reminds me of Tim Powers’ The Anubis Gates, only wordier. Hopefully it will pick up sometime.

I’ve never assailed The Da Vinci Code in any medium, and am reluctant to try.

13 J.D. May 26, 2006 at 09:40

Oh the pain!

You cut me to the quick!

This is one of my favorite books, but then I love Dickens and Austen. Vanity Fair was brilliant. Not everyone can have the same taste, of course, and yours and mine often differs, but I do hope that you come to at least an uneasy truce with JS&MN before you finish. I love it, and anticipate reading it once each year for decades to come…

14 J May 30, 2006 at 20:47

By the by: Poseidon is not nearly as bad as the reviews paint it. In fact, I’m hard-pressed to figure out why it received negative reviews. It’s not great by any means, and probably not even good, but it’s certainly not bad. It’s a perfectly serviceable summer actioner.

It’s certainly no better or worse than the original, though I am hard-pressed to figure out why there would be a hatch in the bottom of the ship. At least in the original, the escape made sense.

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