You just had to feel a little bad for Ron Howard (a very little bad if you're Catholic) last week when his latest pet project—that infernal Dan Brown movie—debuted to jeers and derisive jabs at the Cannes Film Festival. Everyone's been buzzing about The Da Vinci Code's controversial religious and historical claims for years now, but it seems like it never occurred to anyone that the movie might end up being just plain bad. Not bad in a moral sense, mind you—just bad, period.

Don't feel too sorry for the guy, however—critics may hate his movie, but audiences sure don't. The Da Vinci Codeopened last weekend to $224 million in global ticket sales—the second highest-grossing debut of all time, right behind the third and final Star Wars prequel ($253 million). The film broke box office records worldwide, which is sure to remove some of the critical sting its creators were surely suffering.

With its outlandish claims about Christ and Christianity, however, it's no surprise that Christian critics share the negative response of mainstream reviewers. Peter T. Chattaway (Christianity Today Movies) says the film fails as history and as entertainment: "If you want an entertaining yarn about the Knights Templar, historical secrets, and cryptic codes hidden in famous documents and artifacts, go rent National Treasure. Now there's a movie that knows how to have fun with an absurd premise—and it doesn't spread falsehoods about the Church that have already undermined the faith of many Christians. The best thing that can be said about The Da Vinci Code is that it is such a dud that it just might help to bring this phenomenon to an end. And the sooner, the better."

Steven D. Greydanus (Decent Films) rails against ...

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