Wednesday, 06 June, 2001

Movie Review:  Dogma

I rented the film Dogma on DVD over the weekend, and finally got a chance to watch it this evening.  Considering the source (written and directed by Kevin Smith who also wrote and directed Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy), I expected a campy offbeat comedy.  I wasn't disappointed.  The film is, well, odd.  And hard to categorize.  Strangely humorous throughout with a few gut busters thrown in here and there, I walked away laughing and shaking my head over the silliness of it all.

Here's the setup.  Loki (the Angel of Death) and Bartleby (another Angel) were cast from Heaven for disobeying God (a woman, it turns out) and exiled to eternity in Wisconsin, never to return to Heaven.  The Pope has declared a "plenary indulgence," allowing any mortal who walks through the doors of a certain church in New Jersey to have all his sins forgiven.  Bartleby figures that if he and Loki can become mortal (by cutting off their wings) and then walk through the doors of the church, all their sins will be forgiven.  If they die with a clean slate, then they'll be able to reenter Heaven.  They won't be Angels, but at least they'll be back in Paradise.  The only problem with their plan is that if they enter Heaven they prove God wrong, thereby destroying all existence.  So The Powers That Be send an unusual cast of characters to help the last living descendant of Jesus Christ (Linda Fiorentino) stop the two from exploiting this loophole.

I'll admit that it's a very convoluted plot line, but it's very well executed.  We're treated to signature performances by Matt Damon (Loki) and Ben Affleck (Bartleby), and Alan Rickman does a very good job as Metatron (the Voice of God), giving us a good taste of the dry, ironic wit that I liked so much in Galaxy Quest.  Like all of Kevin Smith's films, Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) play an integral part.  Other notables in the film include George Carlin, Chris Rock, and Salma Hayek.

The film is rated R, probably for the language, which does get tiresome at times.  Although I busted a gut when Jay let his foul mouth loose in God's presence.

The Catholic League and other organizations protested the film and Miramax Films who financed the picture refused to release it, opting instead to sell it to another distributor.  Critics and many fans of Kevin Smith's work disliked the film.  Yes, the film pokes fun at the Catholic Church and organized religion in general, and it's very irreverent, but hardly worth getting your knickers in a twist.  As for the critics, well, I don't usually agree with them.  I mean, The Last Emperor won an Oscar for Best Picture?  They should have left that entire film on the cutting room floor.