Summer Movie Flashback: The Da Vinci Code


tn_davincicodeHonestly, DA THE VINCI CODE or whatever is not a movie I ever though I’d watch. Some of the things going against it are:

a. didn’t look interesting to me
2. book I never cared about
III. director Ron Howard is competent but kind of a square director in my opinion, not somebody whose movies I ever get excited for and
d. in my opinion Akiva Goldsman is the writer of BATMAN AND ROBIN.

And I would’ve gotten away with it if it wasn’t for this Summer Movie Flashback I got myself into. There just wasn’t another significant summer of 2006 movie I hadn’t seen. Right up until the last minute I was actually planning to do MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND just ’cause I thought that would be easier to stomach, but I decided that would be dishonorable. This one was obviously part of some cultural phenomenon of the time and is more representative of that summer.

Well, it’s pretty much what I feared: middle of the road. Held my interest for a while, but not ever giving me a genuine cinematic high, and never bad enough to be interesting like VAN HELSING was. Just, you know, Ron Howard making the movie you’d expect of a thriller book you saw for sale at the airport. So I don’t have a huge amount to say about it.

mp_davincicodeI’ll give it this: Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon is a unique hero for a big summer movie. He’s a famous author and lecturer on the topic of symbols. In the middle of a book signing in France he finds out that a guy he sort of knew, and had been recently contacted by, just got murdered in a weird ritualistic way, leaving a coded message behind with his name literally on it. Langdon gets called in by Jean Reno to look at the clues, then is notified by police cryptologist/dead guy’s granddaughter Sophie (Audrey Tautou) that he’s being set up, and the two end up on the run, interpreting hints left behind by grandpa, figuring out this has to do with Opus Dei and the Holy Grail (and, who knows, probly Gabriel Van Helsing in my opinion), figuring out codes, puzzles, riddles, mazes, word searches, Mad fold-ins, occasionally running short distances to get away from Jean Reno or the masochistic albino monk (Paul Bettany) who has already been shown to be committing murders for the church or whatever.

But here’s the novel part: Langdon is still just an expert author guy. He’s not Indiana Jones. He does not taste blood and become a man. Sure, he has to run from guys. He gets guns pointed at him. But he doesn’t have to learn to use a gun, or set off an explosive, or jump onto a train from a building. He doesn’t have to learn what it’s like to feel the breath of a man go out between his hands. He doesn’t have to swing on a rope or do a flip or kung fu a guy. He just does Robert Langdon stuff: call up old friends (Ian McKellen), look into old books and files, remember some old fact that’s in his brain somewhere.

He even has pretty dorky hair. He’s not even trying to be cool.

I like that, but it’s not like this is some thoughtful adult drama like a David such as Cronenberg or maybe Fincher would make. Usually when somebody criticizes a movie as “like a video game” it’s not something like this at all, but I think it’s fair to say this is kinda like watching somebody play a video game: solve a puzzle, get some exposition, solve another puzzle, get some more exposition. Howard struggles with two opposing realities:

1. This is a huge hit book destined to be a huge hit movie

2. This shit is not cinematic at all

Whenever Langdon is explaining some legend about the Knights Templar or something they dissolve into lush historical epic type shots with crowds of knights in armor, so the most expensive-looking thing in the movie is gratuitous illustration of dialogue. When Langdon tries to figure out an anagram we see the letters float around and re-arrange themselves. When he’s trying to figure out a riddle about an orb we see ghostly animations of the different possibilities floating around him: planets, rocks, foods, whatever. But it’s not like Howard is a visually gifted filmatist finding new ways to tell a story. It’s more like he’s desperate for the whole movie not to be Tom Hanks in a dimly lit room explaining or thinking about different riddles.

I know it’s an acceptable storytelling cheat, but I always think it’s funny how if somebody tells some old legend in a movie that means that the legend is true. Like, he’s kinda remembering this myth/conspiracy theory about the Knights Templar, one that he’s never taken seriously. He’s probly heard a million variations on it and might even be forgetting parts or leaving them out to simplify it or he could be remembering things wrong or he heard a stupid version from some jackass that tells it wrong. But since he says it we know that everything he says is what actually happened and will also probly be significant to the mystery. I’m sure there are some exceptions to this in other movies, but I can’t think of them.

At first the movie seems like it has kind of ballsy content. As we’ve all probly heard (but SPOILER anyway) the murders turn out to be covering up the secret that Mary Magdalene was actually Jesus’s baby mama, and his bloodline continues, and the real religious guys are trying to make sure people don’t find out about this, because how embarrassing? Of course this is fiction but you can see how it wouldn’t sit well with some Christians to be making up a “secret” that completely changes the idea of Jesus’s life and the way he acted.

On the other hand the movie ends with some wisdom from Langdon, very much like the end of LIFE OF PI, a feel-good kinda way to look at the world as unknowable and at unverifiable belief as kinda deep. Langdon is an academic and a sciencey kinda guy but hey look everybody, he believes in God. The movie kinda challenges Christianity but then makes peace with one of these “if there’s no creator then how do you explain this beautiful sunset?” intelligent design type platitudes that people like. So that’s how they got away with it.

I don’t know. When it comes to gloomy thriller mystery movies based on smash hit book serieses I guess I’m just more of a GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO guy.

p.s. Seriously though Asylum, I don’t know why you haven’t made a DA VINCI CODE, file under VINCI CODE, DA.

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101 Responses to “Summer Movie Flashback: The Da Vinci Code”

  1. Title suggestion for an Asylum knockoff :THE MONALISA ENIGMA

  2. Vern, you may not remember Tom Hanks hair was a big deal at the time, so ridiculed he cut it for the sequel.

    I thought it was a shitty book too. Material may be interesting but chapters full of long paragraphs in quotes as the characters explain history/art isn’t a good read. And turns out they made the most literal adaptation of the book possible.

    I actually liked MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND a lot, if you ever get a chance to revisit.

  3. The Asylum have made a THE DA VINCI CODE knockoff with C. Thomas Howell and Lance Henrikson called THE DA VINCI TREASURE (2006). Do your research, guys.

  4. I’ve always had a grudge against this book. On the surface it’s the sort of shit I would like, with how it looks at religious occultism through the lens of modern viral information paranoia/post-Mulder and Scully mentality, the sort of thing that would have formed like 1/5 of the plot in a book by Snow Crash era Neal Stephenson.

    But the book is so fucking bad (I assume and sort of gather from the constant derisive snorts and choice tidbits my girlfriend would quote when she read it) and just scratches the surface of what I would expect from this sort of story. In my mind I compare it to, like, The Illuminatus Trilogy, which is totally unfair because that’s a mad hatter acid head treasure trove more for the Hitchhiker’s Guide crowd and nobody who actually liked the Code could stand to read it, but at least the parts of it that are about uncovering this conspiracy whose ramifications are strewn throughout familiar and even holy texts and symbols seem comparable.

    But so the sort of people who would read Dan Brown books as their, you know, primary literary sustenance have their minds fucking BLOWN by this thing, but never would have the curiosity or gumption or balls to read the REAL stuff, ie stuff that I like and is therefore superior to the stuff that other people like.

    Never saw the film. Amelie’s a cutie.

  5. Why do people get so upset with the idea that Jesus might have had sex? Does fucking make you evil? It’s one of those weird Catholic things that I just never understood.

  6. Funny enough, they also made THE DA VINCI CODE video game, and it was surprisingly pretty good. At least I liked it.

    The plot was potboiler adventure stuff, but it was pretty good for a video game. And since I hadn’t seen the film or read the book when I played it, I was invested enough in it to see all the twists and revelation through.

    And yes, the whole puzzles and riddles aspect was indeed perfect for a video game. It makes quite a bit of difference of you as a player to solve them yourself than watch a goofy haired Tom Hanks do them for you. So that aspect worked pretty well in a game too.

    Didn’t care for the films, and still haven’t read the books. But at least one aspect of the Robert Langdon “franchise” was a positive experience for me.

  7. Will this thread turn into a heated debate about religion? Who knows? I don´t.

    I seem to remember another Dan Brown adaptation where Ewan MCgregor as a priest flew a helicopter and bailed out. Which one was that? Was it this one? I don´t remember much about these “films”. They exited my brain faster than a speeding bullet upon viewing.

  8. Shoot McKay – That was ANGELS & DEMONS.

    What a forgettable experience watching that was. THE DA VINCI CODE at least had a strong hook with its bloodline of Jesus story, but I already forgo what the sequel (prequel) was about. Something about killing the Pope, maybe? And there was a anti-matter bomb and running around the Vatican looking for landmarks looking for clues. Maybe it was just a hoax perpetrated by Ewan McGregor. I honestly can’t remember.

  9. ah ANGELS AND DEMONS– what a piece of shit. if i remember correctly, ewan’s plan relied on the papal conclave enforcing an obscure rule that had never been used before, and his motivation for his actions was something to do with the blasphemy of the higgs boson. what the fuck….

    bland and dumb.

  10. And still, ANGELS & DEMONS is a better movie than DA VINCI.

  11. Angels and Demons had some really good music, though. That Joshua Bell guy sure knows how to play a violin.

  12. This is the kind of shit that, as far as my creative tendencies go, seduces me into thinking I should not remain true to my internal muse and make stories that really get me off, and maybe only 10 other people will appreciate.

    That I should just just whore myself out to the lowest common denominator of a storyline in terms of appeal that I can imagine, and reap gobs of money.

    But then I remember that, before Dan Brown, Catholic treasure hunting wasn’t cool, and before JK Rowling, boy wizards were not cool.

    So maybe, after all, I should stick with my ewok musical magnum opus.

  13. I remember thinking, “That’s the big secret?!” Outside of Catholicism it’s actually a common discussion to posit that Jesus may have married & had children & yet I don’t seem to remember hearing about any albino monk assassins in the news.

  14. Dan Brown is like a lobotomized Umberto Eco. Somebody should make a miniseries out of Foucault’s Pendulum.

  15. A friend of mine saw Dan Brown give a speech at a commencement ceremony once. Apparently the most memorable part was when he said “When I’m stuck writing, the question I ask myself is: ‘How much money will this next sentence earn me?'”

  16. At least he was honest, unlike a lot of pretentious douchebag-writers. Most writers want to make an earning of their writing to make a living. It is from a practical standpoint very sound. Now that he has made these millions, I guess it does come off as greedy, but I don´t care. Rather be upfront than dishonest,I´d say.

  17. The idea that Jesus was celibate is just a Christian projection onto the Gospels. From what I’ve heard and read, the historical Jesus likely married, because at the time a rabbi was expected to have a wife. If he didn’t, people would have thought he was a weirdo and he would not have gathered as many followers as Jesus. There’s nothing in the Gospels (which were written decades to nearly a century after Jesus died) about whether or not Jesus was married, if I’m not mistaken.

  18. Remember a few years ago when James Cameron discovered the bodies of Jesus and his wife and kids and then it all got swept under the rug almost immediately?

  19. I actually enjoyed ANGELS & DEMONS. I do agree with what Foywonder said at the time that regardless of what Tom Hanks did in the film, the bad guy’s plot still would’ve happened which is actually kinda funny when you think about it. But as paperback thriller movies go, I thought it efficiently worked with a good cast, a hook (murder mystery/conspiracy thriller in Vatican City), classic tropes (church having to get help of their enemy), a good setpiece (trapped in vault, air cut off), and effcient enough. Plus the villain’s main motivation was reasonable enough, as religious whackos go.

    Now DA VINCI CODE, wow that was boring. Nevermind (to echo what others already said) I didn’t buy the bad guys’ motivation. If that conspiracy supposedly came out publicly, how many Christians (especially Catholics) actually choose to believe it? Dogma isn’t about facts but re-enforced belief in your culture over that of ouside intrusions.

    Speaking of which, you all know Opie and Hanks are making another of these movies? Apparently not adapting the last one published because, to quote my mother who’s a fan of these books I’ve never read, it was “duller than dishwater.”

  20. In all seriousness (sort of), it’s the Hanks Mullet that ultimately kills any chance this movie had of crossing the finish line as a winner. I mean, Nic Cage can rock this same mullet in Drive Angry like it’s child’s play, but Hanks?….. there’s just something subtlely yet far-reachingly wrong about it. Kind of like tilting the Earth’s axis just a degree or two: no immediate fuckups present, but eventually it sends the whole doodad astray.

  21. James Spader rocked a similar hair on THE OFFICE as Robert California.

  22. Tim Thomerson and Brion James in…DaVinci Cop!

  23. Brion James is dead so, i don´t think that would work. But I like your spirit.

  24. Speaking of TimThomerson, have you guys heard of the unreleased TRANCERS-movie: TRANCERS-CITY OF LOST ANGELS?

  25. James Cameron did what?!

  26. so… if you’re a writer and say you’re writing for something other than the money, you’re being dishonest and/or a pretentious douchebag? I think some here would disagree with that sentiment. Nothing wrong with being a commercial author, nothing wrong with doing something solely for the money, and more power to anybody who makes any amount of money with their writing. His quote just made it seem like he was gloating over his own success in a public forum, which, in my opinion, is lame.

  27. My comment might have been a bit on the harsher side towards authors with less commercial attitude but after spending a semester studying literary science I have go the feeling that a lot of the writers there are way too cerebral to be enjoyed. Authors like James Joyce or Virginia Woolfe for instance.

    Now, Woolfe she could FUCKING write,don´t get me wrong about that, but she could not sustain my interest for the whole 200 pages of AT THE LIGHTHOUSE. Same goes for Joyce. Profficent as craftsmen,but hardly enjoyable to read at leisure time. They have contributed greatly,I admit. But they are not the kind of writers I like to read.

    I have a prejudice against literary writers because of this. To be able to enjoy literary works you need to understand the intertextual references to older literary works. It seems to be a custom to pay tribute to what has come before. But I am a bit of an illiterate and do not care about such things. I just want a good story. Nothing fancy so that is why i do not trust scholars.

  28. I do not think I am making much sense, cause I am drunk right now.

  29. I’ve never read Brown and don’t intend to, but there’s a less douchey way to take his statement. All writers, commercial or literary, are prone to frustration when the words aren’t flowing right. I’ve been there plenty of times. I’m sure reminding yourself that you’re one of the precious few who won the lottery and became a millionaire from typing out a few sentences is probably a good way to put whatever obstacle you’re facing at the current moment in perspective. It’s like on every DVD special feature where an actor will follow up a complaint about how cold it was on the set with a reminder to himself about how lucky he is to be doing what he’s doing.

  30. Shoot, as a liberal arts dropout, I can wholeheartedly endorse what you are saying.

  31. here’s why THE DA VINCI CODE fucked with Protestant American Christian’s heads, because mainstream American Christians actually know very little about the history of Christianity, as far as they’re concerned The Bible is the 100% flawless absolute word of God passed down directly to mankind, none of them really knew before that the Vatican had to actually choose which books were “canon” and which were not and the idea of the Vatican changing and censoring things in the Bible to suit their own political needs raised unsettling questions that American Christians never had to think about before prior to THE DA VINCI CODE, questions like, why would God allow the Vatican to change things if it’s His “infallible” word?

    mainstream American Christians have never even heard of things like Gnosism, to them Christianity is as American as apple pie, barbecue, football and Eagles and THE DA VINCI CODE allowed an unsettling glimpse into the “weird” side of Christianity and those bizarre Euro-Christians (aka Catholics) that they never even knew about and it frightened them because if it’s one thing Christians absolutely fucking HATE, it’s giving serious thought about their Religion, just listen to what the man on the stage says, nod your head, sing along to the happy music and don’t question or think about anything, can I get an Amen!?

    but beyond that of course it just pissed them off that Hollywood would DARE make a movie about Jeebus that didn’t fit with their viewpoint, coming just a few years after THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST it seemed like a slap in the face to them

    the time around 2006 in general was a period of a HUGE backlash against Christianity, this was the height of the Bush years when that crazy fucking cowboy and his Christian cronies were just running AMOK! bombing the Arabs, taking their oil, wiping their ass with the Constitution and by Darwin, the left knew it was time to start firing back, the internet was just overloaded with Angry Atheists ready to vent their spleen about the evils of Christianity and Dubya at the drop of a hat (some of them even went as far as to say Dubya was responsible for 9/11 with his explosives and hologram airplanes) and may the Flying Spaghetti Monster help anyone who was on the receiving end of their rage

    and various things in the media at the time had to have put downs of Bush and the Iraq War, anyone remember the TV show MASTERS OF HORROR? almost every single episode of that series was filled with anger at the Political Right, most obviously in Joe Dante’s episode HOMECOMING but also in episodes like THE WASHINGTONIANS and FAMILY

    there was even commentary on the Iraq war in a few animes at the time, most notably FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST and EUREKA 7, one dealt with the Iraq war in a fantasy context and depicted the stand in for American troops wantonly slaughtering the men, women and children of the stand in for Arabs (but some of them felt bad about it afterwards and tried to make it right) and the other dealt with the Iraq war in a scince fiction context and depicted the stand in for American troops wantonly slaughtering the men, women and children of the stand in for Arabs (and again, some of them felt bad about it afterwards and tried to make it right), both animes were perhaps not coincidentally from the same studio

    it was a very politically and Religiously tumultuous time that all seems to have been mostly forgotten post Obama

  32. renfield – You have no idea how much I appreciate your input. I am so afraid of coming across like a villiage idiot who cannot grasp simplest of concepts.

  33. Majestyk, the documentary wasn’t swept under the rug, it was debunked. No respected archeologist supports the claims in the documentary and the archeologists that were featured in it claimed that the documentary’s director, Simcha Jacobovici, misquoted them.

  34. RBatty, Jesus might have been married, but to posit it as an absolute based on our limited knowledge of culture would be incorrect, especially since there is a lot of documentation of 1st century Jewish ascetics, including the Essenes, who were said not to marry.

  35. *1st century Jewish culture

  36. Yeah, that’s just what they want you to think. It’s a papist conspiracy!

    (I have no idea what I’m talking about, I just want to believe that Jim Cameron dug up Jesus, and PROMETHEUS taught me that science is all about believing whatever the fuck you feel like.)

  37. Movies like this make me glad to be an atheist. Itonically I saw this in a theater with a group of young pentecostal christians. The drive home was hilarious they’re like “it was good but it’s clearly blasphemous”. I’m like “That’s entertainment.” They actually enjoyed it. I thought it was pretty safe and yeah Ron Howard pretty much sucks. Outside of THE PAPER and NIGHT SHIFT I think those were alright.

  38. He was pretty good when he was a comedy guy. SPLASH and GRAND THEFT AUTO are both entertaining. As for his dramatic work, it’s been a while but I bet BACKDRAFT holds up.

  39. I would now like to post my personal thoughts on 2006 and get ready folks, this year is the Big One for me

    it was February 2006 and I got my first laptop and a connection to the internet, that may sound late (I’m assuming most people got the internet sometime in the early 2000’s) but outside of video games I’ve always been just a little behind the curve technology wise, I knew the internet existed but for some bizarre reason I never really realized it was something that *I* could have until later, I can’t really explain it or understand it, but for whatever reason I just had to wait for the planets to align and the time to be right and that time was 2006

    and oh my sweet Christmas did the internet BLOW MY FUCKING MIND, I was 16 years old and such a naive little mother fucker that getting the internet was akin to Neo waking up from The Matrix, I stumbled out naked and covered in goo (more literally than you may think) and I didn’t know my ass from a hole in the ground, but by God I was ready

    the internet was the entire world at my finger tips, anything and everything all in one place, never before and never since have I had such an experience of a totally new technology just totally changing my life forever, it felt like I had been waiting my whole life for it

    now, there was some bad with all the good, all that aforementioned political shit was going down and I learned that racism is still a thing (oh Lord is it ever still a thing), but besides all that the internet was all about FUN! FUN! FUN! anyone remember the website YTMND? it’s forgotten now but it was the King of internet comedy back in the day and it was the most fun website I’ve ever experienced, I mean my God the endless hours of laughs and fun that site gave me, how I wish it was still popular, then there was 4chan, yeah I know, the site was a mixed bag even back then, it was internet junk food, not good for you but addictive, I can’t stand the site today, it really is a shithole now, but it was fun while it lasted

    if I had to pick a favorite year of my life it would have to be 2006, the entire year and everything from it has an almost magical feel to me, like a lost mythical age that Bards sing tales about in Taverns, just the date itself, 2006, has an almost Pavlovian reaction for me and books, games, movies, anime, etc from that year peak my interest even if it’s not something I’d normally care about because experiencing new things from 2006 is as close I can get to revisiting that year

    times have changed though, these days I find myself bored with the internet pretty much, oh sure I have my list of sites that I check daily (including this one), video series that I watch and every once in a while I’ll stumble upon something cool or funny, but nowadays the internet is just a means to an end, a way to kill some time in between doing something else, it’s no longer the Main Attraction for me, it’s still a useful tool that I couldn’t live without now, but the novelty is gone, that sense of freshness and newness has long worn away

    plus. the internet has changed so much since I first got it and not always for the better, all this Twitter and Instagram and Facebook shit, gah, I hate it with a passion (ESPECIALLY Twitter, FUCK that celebrity dick sucking sideshow)

  40. I may be out of line saying this, but please take the time to read my wall-o-texts and express your thoughts gentlemen, I’m quite proud of my work

  41. Majestyk— That’s a really good point. I always appreciate being reminded that there is often a road less douchey.

    Shoot— haha, word.

  42. As far as the Jesus-having-kids thing goes, I preferred PREACHER’s take on it, where in the secret society’s attempt to keep the bloodline “pure” the sole true descendant of Jesus Christ is an inbred retard. “Humper-doo!”

  43. David Lambert – I’m not saying that Jesus absolutely did marry. I’m just saying that a lot of people think it’s likely (unless you were saying that the Da Vinci Code was saying that Jesus unequivocally married). It is sort of strange how tied up Christians are with the idea that Jesus was celibate. And my understanding is that people believe that Jesus wasn’t an ascetic since the early church had to fight ascetic principles in some of its congregants. Even Paul had to tell some early Christians that they should continue to have sex since some groups were abstaining because they believed it was pointless since Jesus was coming back soon anyway. I’m far from an expert. I took a class back in college, and I’ve read a few things here and there. Sure, it’s possible that Jesus never married. But I’ve always found it strange that people get up in arms when historians suggest that it’s a distinct possibility.

  44. I know better than to talk about religion on the internet, but Griff you asked for some thoughts. I would say criticizing American Christians for being ignorant isn’t breaking any new ground. It’s like complaining about airline food or something. I hear complaints about ignorant Christians nigh everyday, usually from frustrated American Christians. I wouldn’t put the rising tide of atheistic opposition to Christianity at Bush’s doorstep either, but I have my own theories in regards to that. The thing is, intellectual indifference is a problem everywhere, and most militant atheists I encounter are no more educated about Christianity than your average American Christian and are just as likely to spout handed down info of little provenance. Just get one to start talking about the “similarities” between Jesus and Horus and you’ll likely get a bullshit list from Zeitgeist that’s less accurate than those stupid Kennedy/Lincoln comparison lists. Even Religulous quoted the list without any fact checking. Maybe Bill Maher will do an anti-vaccine documentary next. As for the Biblical canon, the idea that it was done for “political” reasons is silly. The Gnostic gospels didn’t have the provenance of the Synoptics and they didn’t fit with Old Testament canon. Now, I know a lot of Orthodox Jews would argue that the New Testament doesn’t fit with the Old, and while I would disagree, it clearly doesn’t have any inarguable contradictions like the idea that the Old Testament God was evil and Jesus overthrew him, which was a doctrine of many Gnostics. The theories that Dan Brown poses in The DaVinci Code are ridiculous and have been long rejected by biblical scholars. Jesus being married might interfere with Catholic doctrine but it doesn’t do anything to Protestant theology besides make people uncomfortable picturing Jesus having relations. However, there’s absolutely no viable evidence that Jesus was married. What we assume (emphasis on assume) was typical for Jews at the time doesn’t factor because Jesus and his followers were clearly atypical.

  45. That’s a good point, RBatty. The problem I have with a lot of historical scholarship is that they look at what they think is typical of the period and assume everyone abided by that. Imagine what strange things they’ll think were typical of our time.

  46. Sorry for the lack of paragraph breaks. Typing from my phone.

  47. I like Ron Howard movies. I like Willow, Cocoon, Parenthood, Far and Away and Backdraft.

  48. “Dan Brown is like a lobotomized Umberto Eco. Somebody should make a miniseries out of Foucault’s Pendulum.”

    i was thinking the exact same thing. that’s the interesting version of this story. that or the inbred Christ descendent in Preacher

  49. david lambert – militant atheists annoy the shit out of me too*, I was trying to poke fun at them in my post as well, but I guess it didn’t come off clear enough

    if I’m anything I guess I’m agnostic, we’re just a bunch of apes crawling around on a rock floating in a vast sea of nothingness, anyone that claims they know absolutely the answers to the Big Questions of life, the universe and everything is full of themselves, whether they’re Fred Phelps or Penn Jillette, no one knows shit

    *for the record, I hated that HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY book, what a smarmy, self satisfied, pretentious piece of shit that was, no wonder it’s the Bible for edgy internet atheists

  50. Agnostics are weak-willed fence-sitters. And HITCHHIKER’S is great.

  51. I did get that you were making fun of militant atheists too. Sorry if my post seemed like an attack.

  52. I could be wrong about this, so I apologize in advance if I am. (I’m on Day 6 of a work trip to Seattle, so my brain is a little fuzzy). But, wasn’t there a major plot point in this related to treating some other book as fact… A book that was proven to be a hoax about 30 years before Brown wrote his airport thriller?

  53. Griff- You hated the Hitchhikers Guide… The book?!? Sorry, dude, that makes absolutely no sense to me. (Calling it the “bible for edgy Internet atheists” sounds pretty douchey to me). I still respect you and all, but I am seriously questioning your taste at the moment.

  54. HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXT is many things. But pretentious? I have read pretentious books and this ain´t it.

  55. I never agreed with Douglas Adams’ notion that agnostics are weak-willed fence-sitters. There’s nothing weak about admitting that you simply don’t know the answers to the mysteries of life. Hell, no one KNOWS what happens when you die. Both people of faith and atheists can believe they know what happens, but nobody actually KNOWS. I say this as an atheist, by the way.

    I did enjoy Adams’ writing, though. Especially that joke about the puddle of water who thought the pothole he was occupying was made just for him. That was a hilarious analogy.

  56. As far as Ron Howard goes… I may be in a minority here, but I really like Cinderella Man.

    One, because I have a thing for boxing movies, and two, because I just love how that movie was designed to be a typical Oscar winner, but ended up getting completely ignored and somehow became its own thing. It’s a perfect holiday movie, the kinda thing you watch with the family. Also, I think it’s Russell Crowe’s best performance.

  57. Speaking of boxing movies, I see that Tommy Morrison passed away. The dude was just 44.

  58. Shoot- Agreed. Hitchhikers is anything but pretentious.

    Knox- I appreciate that, while you may not agree with Adams’ views, you can recognize that he writes some great comedy. Pretty amazing to think that the book was adapted from a radio show which had such a tight production schedule that at times he was literally typing pages moments before handing them over to the actors who where reading them.

    Side note, I was lucky enough to briefly meet Douglas Adams about a year before he passed away. No real story there, just one of those lucky moments in life.

  59. *were not where. Sorry. As I said, fuzzy work travel brain.

  60. Re: Ron Howard. I think his movies are hit and miss. I usually like his comedies. But the fact that he seems like such an awesome person plus Arrested Development make me root for him.

  61. Also, Splash.

  62. Knox: I don’t believe in vampires either, but nobody expects me to qualify my non-belief with an asterisk. Only with theism do people feel the need to spell out the perfectly obvious fact that they can’t prove something’s non-existence.

  63. Splash is genius. I also have a soft spot for Night Shift with Michael Keaton and Henry Winkler. I love that Ron Howard was probably the first to attempt to break the Fonzie stereotype and continues to do so.

  64. Ugh. My brain is really fried. I meant typecasting, not stereotype. I should probably go to sleep.

  65. I just remembered another thing that really disappointed me about THE DA VINCI CODE movie: casting Tom Hanks. This was a title that sold itself. They didn’t need a name. They could have cast anyone they wanted, taken an interesting risk, found someone knew or someone unusual. But no, they made it a Tom Hanks vehicle because he had some flops and needed a sure thing to cling to his A-list status.

  66. Crustacean, they probably feel the need to do so because everyone else seems so damn sure of themselves.

  67. Not to belabor the religious conversation, but I don’t think Griff’s description of the religious faithful is entirely inaccurate at least when it comes to evangelical Christians. I was raised in the evangelical Christian faith, and I have plenty of family members of this religious persuasion. While their rhetoric shifts occasionally in order to meet the current political climate, there’s almost always an underlying element of homophobia, sexism, and an antagonism towards others. But during the Bush administration it was like their id just completely took over. They no longer had to really hide or obscure these more unsavory aspects of their beliefs. It was now safe to be open about their dislike of gays, members of other faiths, and the rest of the world in general. By the time Bush had become president, I had pretty much settled on the fact that I was an atheist, but by the time the Iraq War rolled around, it was the final nail in the coffin.

    While nearly everyone went insane during the 2000s, it was especially acute in the evangelical community. In the run up to the Iraq War, it was nearly impossible to reason with most people, but evangelicals had a certain bloodlust that was especially disconcerting. The few people I knew who thought it was a terrible idea to invade Iraq were often atheists (and to be fair there were some Christians I knew who similarly thought it was an awful idea, but these were mostly Quakers, members of the Unitarian Church, UCC, and some random Catholics). From my point of view, the evangelical community really showed their true selves during the Bush years, and it wasn’t pretty.

  68. I don’t think Ron Howard is a total wash. I have a soft spot for likes of RANSOM and BACKDRAFT. The rest of his filmography isn’t outright bad either. Just a lot of enjoyable, inoffensive cinema. I wouldn’t put a film like APOLLO 13 for example on my all time favorite list, but it is compelling, has great cast, and is an interesting story told competently. Same goes for a lot of his movies.

    And for me, Henry Winkler broke free of his Fonzie persona a long time ago. Because he was Executive Producer on MACGYVER. MACGYVER, man!

  69. RBatty– what Bush (and more to the point, Rove) was able to do was convince those people not just that they should be more open about their dislike for certain groups, but that *they were the ones being oppressed* any time anyone called them out on being intolerant assholes. That was the genius move that really got things spinning out of control: cultivating an overriding persecution complex in (primarily) older white men, and suggesting that a vast conspiracy of “others” were actively working against their interests and actively hiding the truth. That’s what turned a bunch of reactionary old farts into an angry army living in a parallel reality with it’s own news and own set of “data” which confirmed that they were right, and that everyone else wasn’t just wrong, but an enemy.

  70. RBatty, unfortunately I can’t disagree with a lot of what you say. Nothing annoys me more than WASPs complaining about oppression. I think with the emergent movement in the Evangelical Church things might be turning around but I don’t know. I’m not an active churchgoer. I do hope for the day when the country becomes secularized so American Christianity can purge itself of this strange desire to weild political power. I find the idea of a country enforcing personal biblical principles downright blasphemous. You know, something about free will and shit.

  71. And yet these Evangelicals and Theocons and the Catholic Church, their overreach against Gay Rights and bankruptcy on morality authority is why the SSM movement has just about become the centrist mainstream position. I remember when just a decade ago, that wasn’t even the majority stance within the Democratic Party on that issue. Now it’s the party position and (hopefully) becomes the law in all 50 states soon enough. Sometimes you come across a moment that makes you pause and think-twice “the fuck?” One of those was when Bristol Palin was out doing her Abstinence campaign. In retrospect that might’ve been when those assholes jumped the shark.

    Of course those shits won’t go down without a fight. Some of them are probably preparing to flee to a haven of “family values” like Russia.

  72. RBatty – I was raised a Christian (I was born and raised in Georgia after all, so there was a 99.99% chance of me being raised a Christian) and I can speak from experience that it’s all “nod your head, listen and agree with what the man on the stage says and don’t question anything”

    now, that doesn’t mean all Christians are bad people, far from it, in fact one of the pastors whose Church my family went to I still know and he’s a legitimately good guy, but Religion does have a tendency to make otherwise good people’s rational side of their brains shut down and it’s gotten America in a lot of hot water over the years, those kind of people will believe pretty much any bullshit so long as you wrap it bacon style in Jesus and the American Flag, it pains me that so many of them have yet to wake up and see that the Republican party has been exploiting them all these years

    and as for Douglas Adams, I know he’s the patron saint of modern internet culture, but his book just irritated me and I didn’t find it funny, I’m sorry, it’s just a matter of taste

  73. here’s why I think HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY didn’t work me, I don’t find atheism funny, I don’t find the idea of life being meaningless and there being no God, true or not, appropriate material for comedy, it’s fucking depressing

    and yet this Adams guy seemed to find the non-existence of God the funniest fucking thing in the universe, it was just an endless well of humor and delight for him, THERE’S NO GOD! HAHAHAHA! ISN’T THAT FUNNY? the book seemed to be saying and I’m sorry, I just don’t get it

  74. Griff – I don’t pity them at all. It was an alliance made under Reagan for mutual reasons and it paid off rather well for decades. Now the check has come up, who’s going to sign for it? I kinda feel sorry for the GOP, since the theocons are now a public liability in many regards, like gay marriage. I don’t like the GOP, but they’re not stupid. They can see the writing on the wall. But so much money and votes are tied up with these theocons, they can’t just tell them to fuck off so they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. You pissed in the broken toilet, now you have to fix it.

    I do wonder if the upcoming vote on Syria will be the eruption among the right-wingers, your Rand Paul nuts and the Neocons? Will that matter in ’16 like the Iraq vote came back to haunt Hillary in ’08? We’ll have to see.

  75. Griff – no offense but I never thought that hard exactly on HGTTG. That British dry wit, sense of humor is what I remember fondly about it.

    Speaking of Adams, he also wrote one of the best DOCTOR WHO serials ever in “The City of Death.”

    Major fucking props to him.

  76. “I was raised a Christian (I was born and raised in Georgia after all, so there was a 99.99% chance of me being raised a Christian) and I can speak from experience that it’s all ‘nod your head, listen and agree with what the man on the stage says and don’t question anything'”

    See Griff, I’m confused here. When you say, “it’s all ‘nod your head, listen and agree with what the man on the stage says and don’t question anything'” what are you referring to? I’d like to think you’re not painting all Evangelical Churches with the same brush. I’ve been to plenty of churches around the country (Southern, Black, Hispanic, and Megachurches) and no two are alike. Having said that, almost all of them have Bible studies where people are encouraged to ask difficult questions and have in depth discussions. Perhaps your church didn’t offer these services? Anyway, someone’s personal experience at a church is just that- a personal experience at that church. It doesn’t reveal much about any other church, just like a bad experience with Taco Bell doesn’t reveal much about Latin cuisine.

  77. Wow, Griff. I guess we’re never gonna see eye to eye on this, because you pretty much just described THE ONLY FUNNY THING EVER.

    Nobody made you read Vonnegut when you were 15, did they? Fucked you up for life.

  78. “Nobody made you read Vonnegut when you were 15”

    hell no, to be honest with you guys, that kind of shit irritates me

    look, I’m a smart guy, I’m not someone who likes Adam Sandler movies or anything like that, but even I have my limits, stuff like Vonnegut, Adams, Kafka, it’s all a little too highfalutin for my blood

    it’s not that I have anything against existentialism, maybe the problem is we’re talking about books and while I like to read, I have ADHD, meaning reading is more challenging to me than other forms of media, it takes a lot of patience on my part and I just have my limits, I mean Neal Stephenson’s ANATHEM made me go cross eyed for example

    but also, keep in mind, I am only 23 years old, I can’t have read every important book ever written just yet, but never say never, all in due time, all in due time…..

  79. God, I just called Vonnegut “highfalutin”, you’ll never respect me ever again, will you?

  80. if it helps, I fucking loved Alejandro Jodorowsky’s THE HOLY MOUNTAIN by the way

  81. Speaking of Jodorowsky, he just got an asteroid named after him.

    Isn’t that awesome?

  82. what!? that is awesome

  83. Humanity is but a tiny blip in an indifferent universe that will continue to exist long after we are extinct. When this sobering fact is contrasted against the petty squabbles that dominate our lives, as Adams did, it creates what experts refer to as “comedy”.

  84. I’m a Dan Brown fan. Won’t try to intellectualize it or anything, but there it is. I love all his stuff.

    No such thing as a “‘guilty’ pleasure.” Not at this websight.

    The motherfucker is capable of writing stuff that I’m not capable of writing, and he keeps me turning those pages. And allah bless him for keeping a bunch of people’s heads down at various airports and on various airplanes. I think it’s wonderful.

    No other contemporary-ish author is as much as fun as Brown in my opinion, excepting Stephen Colbert and maybe the late great Christopher Hitchens. [I heard good things about David Rakoff, but I dunno yet, and I’ve never viddyed a single word printed by Douglas Adams, uh, sorry internet (and fellow atheists?), I guess.]

    The movies based on his books kind of suck, though. Vern and everyone’s right about that.

    Angels & Demons: The Novel Experience is fucking sublime. I pity those who don’t read it, and especially those who don’t get to read it with zero foreknowledge.
    A & D (2000) might be my favorite controversially under-loved/appreciated mass-released entertainment of the 21st century, up there with RAMBO (2008), various G-Unit/Lloyd Banks/Green Lantern mixtapes 2001-2003, MINDHUNTERS (2004), THE INCREDIBLES (2004), the online video oeuvre of Lily Thai (for personal reasons), and the collected Tony Jaa & Panna Rittakrai joints. And Seagalogy, of course.

  85. Griff, I’ve been reading your posts on here for awhile now, and it would really surprise me if you didn’t enjoy “Cat’s Cradle” by Kurt Vonnegut. I read it when I was 23, it was the first book of his that I ever read, and even though I don’t have the greatest attention span either, once I had read the first page I just wanted to keep on reading. I remember being really surprised by how different it was than what I thought Kurt Vonnegut was ‘supposed’ to be like, based on the fuss everyone made about him— it was one of the most plainspoken, interesting, creative, weird, sad, true books that I’d read up till then, and ten years later it still is.

    The reason Vonnegut is considered to be so good isn’t because he writes about big deep things. It’s because he writes so simply and elegantly and engagingly about them. Cat’s Cradle is the “E = MC squared” of fiction. I really think you’d be happy if you gave it a chance.

  86. I’ll probably get around to giving him a shot one of these days

  87. I read Kafka´s THE TRIAL and found it surprisingly accessible considered what my expectations were before reading it. Sure it is absurd and strange but is pretty funny.

    Vonneguts only work I´m familiar with is SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE, a real strange post-war existential novel, but is also funny. I didn´t “get” everything about it, but the stuff I understood was pretty enjoyable.

  88. I get a little man-crush on you every time you mention RAMBO or LAST OF THE MOHICANS, Mouth.

    Damn, I still haven’t seen MINDHUNTERS.

  89. Griff – I was agreeing with you, but it was poorly worded. (I used a double negative, saying I DON’T think your analysis is INACCURATE). Even as an atheist I try to respect the religion of others, so long as I don’t think their beliefs are inherently harmful to others. I’d like to think it’s a part of my cosmopolitan nature. I also find different cultures fascinating, which often includes the religious beliefs of others. So I try to stay nonjudgmental. But as someone who grew up in the evangelical community, like yourself, I believe that there is something inherently problematic about seeing it as your religious duty to convert people to your religion. It creates an “us v. others” worldview, which is justified in a million ways, but is ultimately harmful.

    I will say that I too find the new atheists grating as well. One of the problems with religion is that in certain forms it removes all doubt. Your church tells you that homosexuality is wrong, so you cling to this belief no matter what. You are given certainty, which can be comforting but is ultimately dangerous. I think that the new atheists can recreate that same certainty. Most of these new atheists fashion themselves after enlightenment thinkers who believed absolutely in their own ability to reason. But some of these people (I think someone mentioned Penn Jillette) sound like idiots and are completely wrong about major world events. Still, I don’t think atheists today are as harmful as certain Christian communities.

  90. THE DA VINCI CODE is like a version of Umberto Eco’s THE FOUCAULT PENDULUM but made for retard, idiots and anti-intellectual ignorants. The movie is a bloody joke! It gets everything wrong, from history to the opus dei to albinos being able to have good vison at night… everything, really. It’s a comedy.

  91. Paul with new computer on which nothing works except a browser...

    September 4th, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    I really hope nobody’s trying to send me any e-mails right now, because I can’t get ’em. Seriously, I hate e-mail profiles in Thunderbird. I don’t even understand what the hell I’m supposed to do. Three or four hours of googling later and I’m just gonna give up for the time being and come here to discuss a few films with you guys. So what that basically means is that I’ve just got my internet access back and discovered that Vern has had to re-watch “The Da Vinci Code” and “Superman Returns” as part of his summer movies flashback. You poor, poor man.

    On the movie of this one, I pretty much agree with Vern. The book was laughably bad. The film, just as bad, but not as laughable. I don’t really know what to add to anything anybody’s said here except to point out that I never in a million years expected a villain performance by the person who plays the villain in this one to be as boring as this was. I can’t give you a more detailed critique because to be honest I’ve forgotten more of the movie than I could remember.

  92. does anyone else have a year in their lives they’re obsessed with like my 2006 obsession? is that normal or unusual

    there’s just something about that year that was crazy, beyond me just getting the internet for the first time, it’s like there was something in the air

  93. I suppose 12 years and 12 hours after 9/11, I could declare 2001 as my crazy-memorable-formative year.

    2001 is the best film ever made.

    2001 was the year I abandoned theism-based morality.

    2001 was the year I discovered nightlife.

    I had had experience with Kazaa and wide-ranging illegal music downloads in the ’90s, but 2001 was the year I first discovered that you could make a mix CD, at the time a novel concept to me, like a proto-iPod playlist — David Bowie, Chopin, Biggie, Tupac, and a Crank Yankers skit all on one disc! — which had long been a dream.

    2001 was the first year I bought kindbud in bulk instead of a dub of regs at a time.

    The events of 12 years & 13 hours ago planted the seed that led to my brief-ish, lucrative-ish career as a soldier.

    2001 was the first year when I started to have people know me without me knowing them in return. This wasn’t about me being supercool, it was just dumb luck that I got a catchy nickname on campus and had a distinctive face/voice, so a bunch of fellow students recognized me on the sidewalks & at the beach & at parties while I was too blazed & busy & accidentally popular to remember 5% of them.

    2001 was the year I first befriended a small person. His name is Ian. I’d kill for him. I almost have.

    2001 was the year I realized it was possible to host a party for a platonic girl-type of friend and have her bring her hot girl-type friends to my party and I could make magic happen with said hot girls and my roommate[s] would also enjoy this opportunity and thus my roommates or their friends would pay for all the beer & weed as long as I provided the lady party attendees and so I could get myself and a lot of people drunk/high/laid for free (not out of my pocket anyway) and also have sexytimes and still somehow be congratulated & thanked for doing the heavy lifting even though all I did was charm some chicas into coming to my place and drinking the booze my roommates paid for.

    2001 was year I realized that American voters were idiots.

  94. Griff: You were, what, in your late teens in 2006? Of course you remember that time fondly. Everybody does. It’s when you start making the transition to adulthood and do awesome shit for the first time.

  95. Mouth – other than a few personal rough spots 2001 was actually a pretty great year for me as well, despite 9/11

    CrustaceanHate – I was 16 for most of 2006 and while of course that had a lot to do with it, I can’t help but feel like there was just something in the water that year

    I think primarily it was because it was a year of a lot of new, exciting things in categories that interested me, the Xbox 360 had just come out and the Wii and PS3 were due that fall, so it was an exciting year to be a gamer, the HD era was taking off with the debut of blu ray, it was the last “boom year” in the anime world and the last time that an anime came along that really took the fanbase by storm (Haruhi) and Youtube and Wikipedia were brand new, so it was an exciting time on the internet

    and, it must be said, the economy had yet to tank, it seems like that took the wind out of a lot of sails

  96. 2006 was a shit year. An absurd number of Americans, Iraqis, and Afghans (and secret Syrians, Iranians, and state-sponsored itinerant Shiite weapons-wielding mercenaries & itinerant Sunni would-be warriors) died in war zones, leading to the bittersweet victory of Democrats at the polls as Americans finally woke up to the necessity of being anti-Bush, even as “The Surge” happened a year[+] later (the phase of OIF in which my team fired the most bullets, directed the most helo-delivered munitions, and killed the most brown people, because Peace).

    I heart Nancy Pelosi something fierce, but it’s such a shame she ascended in our government to the #3 spot in the succession only as a reaction to our nation’s realization that we had a golf-&-My-Pet-Goat-loving trained chimp dipshit in the White House and a Darth Vader who shoots people in the face and makes them apologize for having been shot in the face as his #2.

    I was in supreme physical condition in 2006, yet I was never so impotent. I wanted to kill the world, or at least to alter it, but I was reduced to extreme pathetic pawn status. The internet wasn’t even a thing to me at the time, much less pop culture or video game sights. I didn’t even own a laptop at the time. I’m sure I played some Tiger Woods on xBox, but that was the extent of my digital/online presence in 2006. All else would be embarrassing frivolity to my memory.

  97. Mouth – I’m sure it was a bad year to be in Iraq/Afghanistan and you have my sympathy, but just because it was a bad year to be in the middle of a war (of course, when was it ever good to be in the middle of a war?) doesn’t mean it was all bad for those at home

    after all, a lot of people have nostalgia for 1969 and that was in the heart of Vietnam

  98. 2006 was the year I discovered & read all of Dan Brown’s available stuff, so it wasn’t all bad. I recall a girl hitting on my dentist friend & me at the pool while I was on like chapter 34 of ANGELS & DEMONS, flipping through pages while standing tall & sunning myself in the shallow end; she had had some kind of scoliosis and/or minor back surgery, so she was self-conscious about her looks even though she & her friend were super-hot despite her very minor back scar.

    I think she also drunkenly peer-pressured me into doing my one & only ever whip-it on a can of Cool Whip that crazy summer of 2006; it was fun, but I’m certain the loss of brain cells (and loss of $2 worth of sugary dessert topping) isn’t worth the 20 seconds of unique lightheadedness. Just say no.

  99. does anyone besides me remember the website YTMND? that site was extremely popular when I first discovered it and now it’s totally forgotten, which is just strange to me, how could a site once so huge that originated so many memes just completely disappear from the public’s consciousness?

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