Anthony's Film Review

Dogma (1999)

As offensive as it can be, the religious satire is quite amusing...

Religion is pretty much the one topic where society only accepts a positive cinematic portrayal of it. Of course, Kevin Smith's satirical film Dogma isn't the first to poke fun at religion, but each time a film like this comes out, I think of how brave one must be to pull it off. What requires even more bravery is dealing with controversy and anger from a portion of the public. In any event, this film did not bother me at all because I'm not religious. Therefore, I can review Dogma as impartially as I would with any other movie.

The story begins with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as two angels, Bartleby and Loki. They get kicked out of Heaven by God and are banished to Earth, specifically Wisconsin. Soon, they learn about a church in New Jersey that opens for the first time. Apparently, the church is run by a cardinal (George Carlin, the perfect choice for this kind of role) who wants to take a more light-hearted approach towards religion. On the church's opening day, he unveils a statue of a smiling Jesus who does a thumbs-up sign, which the cardinal names the Buddy Christ. This is the kind of place where people could enter Heaven a little more easily. For these two angels, it's their ticket back into Heaven.

It sounds harmless, right? Not really. You see, it is believed that God is perfect. And if He were perfect, then Bartleby and Loki would have absolutely no way of getting into Heaven. But by going to this New Jersey church, the angels are exploiting a loophole in God's law. It would prove God wrong and show that He is imperfect. The result: everything God has created, which is basically the whole universe, will cease to exist. So really, the angels' desire to return to Heaven is almost like a villainous plot to destroy everything with a single push of a button. All they have to do is to go from point A to point B and everything will just disappear.

This is explained to Bethany (Linda Florentino), an abortion clinic worker who is a descendant of Christ, by an angel named Metatron (Alan Rickman). Bethany is also asked to look out for two prophets who will help her on the quest to the New Jersey church. They turn out to be two pot-smoking foul-mouthed guys named Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith). Later, more allies join the group. Rufus (Chris Rock) is a black Apostle not mentioned in the Bible because he's black and the other Twelve Apostles are white. Serendipity the Muse (Salma Hayek) suffers from writer's block and decides to come down to Earth to become a stripper.

The race against the angels to get to New Jersey first becomes a save-the-world adventure, or rather, a save-the-universe adventure. There are adversaries along the way, including Azrael (Jason Lee), three evil hockey-playing kids, and a monster composed of feces. What makes the whole film quite amusing is the dialogue. Often, it is a mixture of references to both the Bible and our secular life on Earth. Sometimes, it directly makes fun of religious beliefs (e.g., Rufus saying that Jesus is black). Again, I wasn't offended by any of it. In fact, I thought some of it was quite funny.

Overall, the movie is humorous enough for me to say that I like it. The religious satire is plentiful and the plot is clever. I also like everyone in the cast, especially Chris Rock and Jason Mewes. I will say one more thing about Dogma, and that is the fact that Kevin Smith's brand of humor and storytelling is unique and clever. Dogma is a good introduction to his work for anyone interested in his films.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Dogma, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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