By Scott Brown
Updated May 04, 2006 at 11:46 PM EDT

Not because of the hair.

Not because you already know the twists. And not because of the controversy either. (A little religious brouhaha certainly didn’t hurt the book.) The headline broadsides from the Catholic Church are just sauce to the goose. But the goose itself, I fear, will be scrawny, when the final tallies come in. Mark my words, The Da Vinci Code will be the box office disappointment of the summer.

Why? Because when a bestseller becomes a mega-mainstream tentpole blockbuster whatever-the-industry-slang-of-the-week-is, it’s usually because people wanted to visualize the thing. How do you visualize puzzle-solving? John Nash-style, with flashing numbers and letters? Well, maybe — but the median moviegoer didn’t have a clue what Nash was talking about, and didn’t need to. They just needed to know he was wicked smaht. The Da Vinci Code, on the other hand, invites readers to “solve along,” Will Shortz-style. You’re supposed to come away feeling almost as wicked smaht as cipher-ish protagonist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks, pictured with Audrey Tautou). Langdon, by the way, is cipher-ish for a reason: He’s you. He’s the reader. But he can’t be you if he’s Hanks — with a muskrat on his head. Mainstream movies don’t invite you to solve along. They solve it for you. They just can’t help it. It’s in their nature.

This is just one man’s opinion, and I should let it be known that I am almost always wrong, about nearly everything. But if Code hits, I’m putting Sunday Jumble: The Movie into production.

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