Puzzle Solved


On my way to The Da Vinci Code I felt as bully as Teddy Roosevelt. The time was noon, the sky was promising, springtime buoyed me. Well rested, well fed (but not overfed), I was quite in the mood for a good, exciting movie-movie, especially one with some theological grit in it. A little church bashing always fine-tunes my spirit, and I even put myself in the mood for mysterioso-apocrypha by swatting up on the recent Gospel of Judas excitement. In fact, I did everything I could to predispose myself in the movie’s favor because I had read the first thirty pages of the novel and knew I had to somehow neutralize that self-lobotomizing experience. In any event, I was ready and willing to give the movie my best shot after allowing it to give me its best shot.

One hundred and forty-nine minutes later, I emerged from the multiplex with my head bowed (but not in piety), my shirt clammy (but not because of a breakdown in the air-conditioning), my contacts grinding my corneas (my senses in revolt), and my spirit temporarily darkened. Only a masterpiece or a truly lousy movie can do this to a viewer and, trust me, The Da Vinci Code is no masterpiece. Yet its makers are not clueless. Its director, Ron Howard, working as usual in partnership with the producer Brian Grazer, is a fairly reliable entertainer whose Ransom remains the best kidnapping thriller I’ve seen. The screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman, has never had his name on...

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About the Author

Richard Alleva has been reviewing movies for Commonweal since 1990.