God, if I only want one thing in life, it's to come up with an idea like The Da Vinci Code.

It's not the plot—sure, Dan Brown's pulp novel about a Mona Lisa-centric mystery and a secret about Christianity must have something, but I'm sure I could come up with something just as good. Like... uh, there's this cryptogram—in Pig Latin, right? And it's inscribed on the foot of Rodin's The Thinker, which leads to this key in France... uh, that opens a freezer in a weird Asian foods market in Chinatown, which leads to... uh, this weird pad thai TV dinner, and when you eat that, you have a vision about how Buddha never reached enlightenment—instead, he chopped down the Bodhi tree, built a house, got married, and had a bunch of kids! Oh, but there are these Buddhist monks who run around and use kung fu to kill anyone who tries to crack... THE RODIN CODE.

See? Easy! No, what I want to come up with is what Brown either stumbled into or cleverly engineered: A zeitgeist machine, a perfect storm of pop culture profitability. There's a reason why the studio's not screening Da Vinci early enough for us to write a review—because reviews don't matter. When you have a movie directed by Ron Howard, starring Tom Hanks, that's based on a book that has over 60 million copies in print and has been translated into over 40 languages, however Ebert deigns to point his thumb becomes utterly irrelevant—the whole enterprise transcends pop lit and cinema, becoming a license to print money.

Am I angry about that? Nope; I usually like the big pop cultural movements—Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc. And yeah, this movie's going to make a kajillion plus infinity dollars—but what really intrigues me is Dan Brown's formula, which I shall dedicate the rest of my life to figuring out. Or maybe I'll just try to get my awesome novel The Rodin Code published. Spielberg could direct the movie, and Tom Cruise would be perfect for the lead.