A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Da Vinci Code opens with a brutal murder and includes several other bloody scenes, including a naked man beating himself. The subject matter is too convoluted to interest young kids, so unless you want to shush them, leave them home. A couple of characters use mild profanity, although most of the cursing shows up in French and in subtitles. Spoiler alert: The film's plot, based on Dan Brown's best-selling novel, suggests that the Catholic Church has for centuries repressed the "truth" that Jesus was human, married Mary Magdalene, and fathered a daughter. Some viewers may find the issues raised -- Jesus' divinity and the Church's cover-up -- upsetting.
What's the story?
In THE DA VINCI CODE, world-renowned symbologist Dr. Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is called by Parisian policeman Capt. Fache (Jean Reno) to consult on a murder case, the scholar is briefly flattered, then daunted when he learns he is a suspect, owing to a note left by the victim. Along with the victim's granddaughter, cryptologist Sophie (Audrey Tautou), Langdon tries to decipher the message, which begins with the victim's arranging of his own body to approximate Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. "Symbols," says the doctor early on, "are a language that can help us understand our past." The film reveals various characters' pasts, including the murderer's (a self-flagellating albino Opus Dei monk named Silas [Paul Bettany]), Sophie's, Langdon's, and significant events in history. Robert and Sophie end up on a kind of scavenger hunt from Paris to London, and are tracked by Fache and aided by Robert's colleague, Sir Teabing (Ian McKellen), who claims to be thrilled to be on a "grail quest." The mystery involves a Catholic Church's cover-up -- for thousands of years -- concerning Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
Is it any good?
Based on Dan Brown's bestseller, this movie is surprisingly unwieldy and conventional, despite and because of the controversy surrounding it. While The Da Vinci Code often looks like it's offering subjective views into Robert Langdon's mind, in effect these images are silly and slow. The special effects are unconvincing as paintings and sculptures move, and the explanatory voice-overs tend to repeat what's obvious.
For all the mystical blurring of edges, the film doesn't make smart connections between periods or characters, and it offers too much explanation and tedious literal flashbacks. The untangling of all the plot strands leads not to an interrogation of various institutions (academe, the cops, the Church), but to a pile-on of much less interesting personal pathologies.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: May 19, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: November 14, 2006
- Cast: Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Tom Hanks
- Director: Ron Howard
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 147 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: disturbing images, violence, some nudity, thematic material, brief drug references and sexual content
For kids who love adventure
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.