Mrs. Betty Bowers is the First to Review "The Da Vinci Code"

"Anything that irritates Catholics can't be all bad!"

The Da Vinci Code is a wildly contrived story about how the forbidden love between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, the Brad and Angelina of Judea, was revealed by Renaissance fresco-paparazzi, and later immortalized by Pierre Plantard, the L. Ron Hubbard of France, in the 1960s with his fabulous hoax called the "Priory of Sion," which author Dan Brown, the Tom Cruise of literature, took seriously.

Opus Dei Vinci: The Book Behind This Dreadful Movie

As an unwavering Republican, I have quite naturally burned more books than I have read.[1]  As such, I seldom read any fiction not found between the bejeweled covers of the Bowers' family Bible.  Nevertheless, believing that anything that infuriates Catholics can't be all bad, I finally closed my autographed Bible long enough to read the The Da Vinci Code.  I must say that Dan Brown's book proved a delightful change of pace.  After all, the entire volume has far less gratuitous sex and dismemberment by psychotic zealots than even the first chapter of the Bible, the Lord's more effective stab at writing a book that makes Catholics look silly. 

After decades of reading the Bible, it was such a delightful novelty to find a book where the readers can look down their noses at the author, rather than the other way around!  Indeed, there is something to be said for reading anything that doesn't constantly tell me what I should be washing the filthy feet of strangers instead of shopping.  And since there was no chance that anyone would ever expect me to abide by any of the words in The Da Vinci Code, I tried an approach I deem most suitable for the New Testament:  I actually read it rather carefully. 

There's no place like Rome! There's no place like Rome!
This man (on the left wearing a fabulous vintage chiffon-lined Dior gold lamé gown over a silk Vera Wang empire waist tulle cocktail dress, accessorized with a 3-foot beaded peaked House of Whoville hat, and the ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in the Wizard of Oz) is worried that The Da Vinci Code might make the Roman Catholic Church look foolish.

As a True Christian™ whose amber-paneled prayer room contains only King James Bibles,  I must admit that I initially found reading an entire work from start to finish (instead of cherry picking the sentences most suitable for needle-pointing onto throw pillows) a revolutionary, and potentially dangerous, approach to understanding a book.  And now that I've thrown caution to the wind by trying this wholly secular fad called "reading the whole thing," I'm left unconvinced that this time-consuming technique in any way better edifies a reader.  To be honest, I found the plot points of The Da Vinci Code no easier to swallow or piece together than those in the fragments of the Bible I've read.  Indeed, The Da Vinci Code has more convoluted and gimmicky twists than anything I've read since I thumbed through the pleadings filed in Denise Richards vs. Charlie Sheen a/k/a Customer on The Smoking Gun

Fortunately, I am a Southern Baptist.  That means, of course, that I never succumb to using common sense as a crutch -- or rely on the uncooperative niceties of logic to make a story work.  Indeed, my staunch refusal to yield to the quintessentially "liberal elite" expectation that things should make sense has made possible my enjoyment of countless Hollywood movies.  This is particularly the case with that Scientology robot trilogy called "Mission Impossible," which even a cursory attachment to logic would have rendered unwatchable.  

Veni Vedi da Vinci: The Movie

I find, however, that my forgiving ability to overlook cinematic flaws is not without limits.  Frankly, The Da Vinci Code tested the tensile strength of my seemingly elastic credulity. While the film is a fairly faithful adaptation of the book, it accomplishes this fidelity in the manner that television programs are faithful to the movies upon which they are based.  You know, sort of the same thing, only with less attractive people. 

Take, for instance, Tom Hanks, who plays Robert Langdon. Now you know that I would never ridicule anyone for their personal appearance if I couldn't claim that I was actually talking about someone else if called on it.  Nevertheless, I must break this already malleable rule to comment on Mr. Hanks' face.  Friends, we are talking about a face that will frighten more people away from the consequences of booze than MADD's most graphic teenager-through-a-windshield public service spot could ever hope to accomplish.

When I was reading the book, I imagined Robert Langdon more as George Clooney.  Well, truth be told, exactly like George Clooney, only in tighter pants. Not Don Knotts in a greasy mullet.  I'm not saying that I don't appreciate how difficult it must be to pull off an authentic NASCAR hairstyle with hair plugs, but I just don't see even a French gal (who, let's be honest, is used to men with bad hair) giving her number, much less her Smart Car, to someone who looks like that.[2]

Sophie Neveu, the love interest with said Smart Car, is played by Audrey Tautou, who had elfish charm and Hanks' haircut in Amélie.  Poor Audrey, a full 20 years Hanks' junior and thereby slightly older than Hanks in Hollywood years, is left with the thankless task of bedding such an unsightly man, simply because her grandfather, Jacques Saunière, has more puzzles to solve than Vanna White.  Indeed, when not participating in ritualistic sex orgies in response to postings on the Normandy Craig's List, the French Jacques Saunière is writing clues to his French granddaughter in English. Like that could happen. In behavior more typically French, in a wildly over-the-top gesture, he flags his most important cryptic clue with his naked body.  An American would have used a Post-It.
Jacques Saunière body is found in the Denon Wing of the Louvre.  Some claim he was posing in homage to Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, but I suspect that being naked and spread eagle in public was something he picked up from Paris Hilton.  Don't worry about seeing his rude parts.  Ron Howard has him lit like Madonna: You can't see anything!

Anyway, none of this really matters.  The thing that has the Pope pooping his Prada is that Hanks' character discovers super-confidential information so secret it is only available to those few, privileged souls who know how to order books off the Internet from Amazon. The secret?  Jesus finally made an honest woman out of Mary Magdalene!  According to Dan Brown, the Catholic Church hid this fact because it didn't wish to revere a female.  Call me a nitpicking killjoy, but I find this professed Catholic aversion to genuflecting before women a bit difficult to swallow.  We are, after all, talking about an institution that has spent the past 2,000 years demoting Jesus and His Daddy, so as to better transform a bit part in the Gospel of Mark, played by the other Mary, into its Goddess.  Clearly, it was simply a case of one Mary being the wrong Mary.  In fact, I suspect that divinity is much like the Screen Actors Guild: You can't use a name that has already been taken.

But I don't know why the Catholics are so eager to venerate Mary (the mother one).  Frankly, had that Mary been a more diligent homemaker and whipped up a hot meal on her Son's last night on Earth, the other Mary and Jesus would never have had to dine in a public restaurant for the Last Supper in the first place.  Had they stayed home, they wouldn't have been subjected to the galling – and, according to The Da Vinci Code,  Gauling --  infamy of being the Brad and Angelina of their time. Flaunting a romance destined for doom, but not before being memorialized by Judean gossips and, later, by Renaissance fresco-paparazzi.  Apparently, in times before a camera with a telescopic lens, celebrity sightings were reported in fine art. But only to those who can read things backwards in blood. 

While the post-Kodak celebrity paparazzi may be less skilled than Leonardo da Vinci when it comes to composition, they are, frankly, more reliable.  Speaking of which: Would someone please remember to go to the Paramount Prop Department and retrieve Suri if Tom Cruise ever returns from his relentless promotion of his new film?  Thanks.

FOOTNOTE 1: I don't wish to brag, but I'm quite confident that our planet is currently minus a handful of glaciers as a result of the wildly successful Harry Potter "Eternal Flame" Bonfire franchises, which I have managed to sell in 37 states. For those of you have bought into an outrageous liberal fiction called "Cause and Effect" and have concerns about the potentially deleterious effect submergence might have on the resale value of expensive beach homes, I encourage you Henny Pennys to take the more environmentally friendly "green approach" to book burning.  It's called "censorship."

FOOTNOTE 2: Since Tom Hanks is an executive producer on HBO's Big Love, I think it is safe to assume that he drew inspiration for his character's appearance from that program's cluster of incestuous Mormon hillbillies who inhabit the clapboard shacks at the Juniper Creek polygamy compound.  Goodness me, since all the men at Big Love's Juniper Creek look like Sweet Betsy from Pike's pimp, it is a marvel they are able to attract enough wives to fix lunch, much less populate their private prairie bordellos!

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