Debunking Da Vinci

Some people claim that I never write about anything serious or important in this space. But this week, that’s all going to change. I’m about to embark on addressing the “biggest cover-up in the history of the world.” That’s right: “The Da Vinci Code.”

I know, we already have a qualified movie reviewer here at the Telegraph, who would shudder at the thought of a plebeian like me attempting to deconstruct film (even though I can occasionally throw out big words like “plebeian.”). But she’s on a plane to Europe right now, blissfully unaware and powerless to do anything.

Besides, that’s the point. We’ve already heard from the New York Times, New Yorker, Wall Street Journal and Roger Ebert on the topic. Now it’s time to hear from a regular Jane Moviegoer, someone without a fancy string of credentials behind her name. Someone who orders the large combo, just like everyone else, and puts her feet on the seat in front of her. Someone who openly admits to willingly seeing “Charlie’s Angels” and counts “Fargo” and “Napolean Dynamite” among her personal film library. Plus, anyone who knows me, knows I see a movie about once every 12 years, making me uniquely qualified to bring a fresh perspective on the subject (They’ve come a long way with special effects these days – you can barely see the strings.)

But not to worry, I’m not a complete nincompoop, as they like to say over there in France. For starters, as preposterous as it sounds, I have been to Paris – and I didn’t eat in a McDonald’s once. More importantly, I have been to the Louvre, taking in the entire west wing in under three hours, no small feat. And yes, I did gaze upon everyone’s favorite mysterious noblewoman (in fact, I’m still a little creeped out by the way she kept watching me.)

Then there’s the six years in Catholic school. Although there was no self-flagellation to speak of, I did have to endure several years of hideous polyester tartan plaid and saddle shoes, not to mention the evil eye of Sister Judith and Sister André. As such, I feel I am more than competent to offer a pretty darn good review of the movie, academic pedigree or no.

Let me start by saying that I did not read the book, which at the rate that I read, would still find me somewhere in the table of contents. However, I did listen to the book on tape during an excruciatingly long road trip a few years back. OK, I know, it’s a cop out, kind of like counting a Skittles as fulfilling your fruit quota for the day, but it’s better than nothing. Besides, reading in the car makes me sick. Plus, an added bonus of the book on tape is that it really allowed me to visualize the characters in the imminent movie. Of course, Angelina Jolie was the heroine, with George Clooney as the rugged yet debonair scholar and, of course, Danny Devito as the French police chief (maybe with a voice over.)

So, you can imagine my dismay when I found out that they actually got real French actors for the French roles, and George Clooney was played by none other than Tom Hanks. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t seem to get beyond him as Rick Gassko in “Bachelor Party.”

Anyway, this was a pretty serious role for Hanks, with no wisecracking, although his hairdo provided plenty of comic relief. I know, enough about that hair already. And who knows? The swarthy mullet may be passé on our side of the ocean, but who’s to say it’s not staging a major comeback? Besides, it’s nice to know that in some parts of the world, certain things never go out of style.

Anyway, I was willing to put aside my disappointment that Tom wasn’t sporting his ’80s ’fro in the name of unbiased reviewing. After all, movie reviewing requires one to temporarily suspend preconceived notions and beliefs, like the nagging thought that never, in a million years, would there ever be a bar of soap in the bathroom at the Louvre. Just go with it, OK? Besides, ever try to embed a GPS chip in wadded-up toilet paper? It’s not all that aerodynamic.

I will hand Hanks one thing. At least he was smart enough to let his French cohort do the talking – take it from someone who was foolish enough to try to try to order herself a café au lait in a Parisian café and paid dearly for it. (I still fantasize about meeting my short antagonist in a dark alley and showing him that although I can’t speak “impeccable French” I can open an impeccable can of whoop ass.)

Anyway, speaking of fantasy, allow me to digress: visitors at the Louvre are not allowed to just walk up and manhandle the artifacts. It’s not a petting zoo, for god’s sake. So if you were thinking it would be worth the trip just to etch your initials in the lower righthand corner of the Mona Lisa or stick your old gum behind it, forget it. The Mona Lisa, which is surprisingly underwhelming, is roped off and encased in glass a good 20 feet from the unwashed masses, lest we get our filthy meathooks all over it and ruin it. Sorry.

Now that we’ve got that straightened out, I would like to address one more item that could be of possible harm to the public at large. Although Audrey Tautou could probably give O.J. a run for his money, I would not recommend wearing, let alone running at a high rate of speed, in high heels through the polished halls of the Louvre or the cobbled streets of Europe. You’re just looking for a nasty sprain, which would ruin your trip entirely. Leave the Blahniks and pencil skirts to the fashion professionals and go for something sensible, like Nikes. It’s not like everyone’s not going to know you’re a tourist anyway.

OK, so where was I? That’s right, the movie. Unfortunately, I’ve eaten up all my space once again without really saying anything – and I haven’t even gotten to the albino monk or what I like to call the “Da Vinci Diet,” staying up for days on end with no food or water. But that’s OK, I wouldn’t want to ruin it for everybody. Although I will end by saying that it was a decent movie, and offer kudos to director Ron Howard for diverging from the Hollywood norm and not forcing us to see Tom Hanks naked.

I guess there really is a god after all.

– Missy Votel