Before I begin, know that there is a special place in my heart for not-good movies. I don’t know if it comes from watching Sunday afternoon disaster films like the Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno with my sister when we were little, but I’d almost prefer to watch a movie I can laugh at than one I laugh with. It’s just a good time.
Perhaps this helps you understand where I’m coming from when I say that I absolutely LOVE the Da Vinci Code movie. It is wildly entertaining, completely insane, nearly impossible to follow, but one heck of a good time. I’ve seen it scores of times and yet whenever it pops up as a streaming suggestion, I have that temptation to watch it again.
I spent most of shutdown on a Jonathan Franzen bender and got a little burnt out (especially after Purity, a book that I found ultimately very disappointing – see my CBR review). I needed a palate cleanser. To the bookcase! Rats, I’ve read everything in this bookcase! Oh, except for my husband’s books. What’s he got here?
That’s when I discovered that I’ve been living with not just a copy of the Da Vinci Code, but with a special illustrated edition with accompanying photos of art and locations. JACKPOT.
In my head, I figured this review would be about how watching this caper for a few hours on screen is fun and entertaining, but that Dan Brown and his theories are a bore in print – I envisioned a scathing review for bitchy people. I could not have been more wrong. The book reads just like the movie – in fact, the film is one of the more faithful recreations of a book I’ve ever seen. The pacing is tight, with short chapters, moving quickly from one location and set of characters to another. In my head, of course, I was envisioning Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Jean Reno, Alfred Molina, Paul Bettany, and Ian McKellen, which probably makes it more fun. (OT: SERIOUSLY. The outrageous success of the book permitted such amazing dream casting). For an old art history and museum buff like me, the photos in this edition really enhanced the experience; when they talk about how many cups are shown on the table in the Last Supper, you could refer to the actual image. But even without the slides, I was quite taken with the story and the writing. I thought the book was a phenomenon because of the shocking theories, but in truth it’s because it’s an engaging, light read, perfect for a vacation or for folks who read during their commutes.
I also misjudged Brown a bit. In interviews he always came off as pompous and self-important. His book is not. His obvious avatar, Professor Langdon, is often a bumbling dumbass, requiring constant assistance and saving by others, and solving riddles by sheer luck. It helps that I’d only ever know it to be my beloved Tom Hanks, but even in the book, the Langdon character isn’t any kind of super sleuth, and he’s quite honest about his failings.
I expected to have a good laugh at The Da Vinci Code’s expense and share that here. As it turns out, this is an entertaining read that deserved at least some of the worldwide attention it received. Will this book change your life? Doubtful. Is it a profound statement about religion? I mean, only in the sense that the purely made-up plot is no less outrageous than the actual Bible. But it’s FUN. It’s exciting and page-turny and if you come across the illustrated edition, a real treat for art buffs. It makes all those hours in Art History lectures feel cool and useful. If you’re an art fan and you ever see this edition, definitely snap it up. If you aren’t, this is still a title worth sticking in your suitcase if we ever get to go anywhere ever again.