DOGMA

(1999)

ViewAskew Productions

Directed by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier (uncredited)
Written by Kevin Smith
Produced by Scott Mosier, Kevin Smith, Jonathan Gordon and Laura Greenlee

I was watching “DOGMA” in the den upstairs when The Wife came up to use the bathroom and after she had finished her personal business she came into the den, sat down and watched about a half hour of the movie with me and was shocked by the raw language and asked who the characters on the screen were and I replied that they were angels trying to get back into Heaven. The Wife shook her head ruefully and said; “The angels I know don’t use language like that.” I was just thankful she hadn’t walked in during the scene with Salma Hayek doing her thing in the strip club.

You see, The Wife is a devout Christian and she has firmly held beliefs and doesn’t like anybody monkeying with ‘em and I respect that. So if you too have firmly held religious beliefs, then I would strongly advise that you give “DOGMA” a pass since it shows celestial beings swearing, drinking and engaging in other acts that celestial beings are not normally depicted engaging in.

You want an example? I’ll give you the best one: Salma Hayek shows up in the movie as Serendipity, a Heavenly Muse who has grown tired of passing on billions of good ideas to human creative artists and has decided to try her hand at being a stripper to fulfill her own artistic needs. Now, personally, I applaud Kevin Smith for his good directorial judgment in taking advantage of having such a beautiful woman play the role of a stripper (and Salma Hayek comes off a lot better in this movie than she did in Barry Sonnenfeld’s disastrous Wild Wild West) but I can see where the notion of a celestial being who has knelt at The Throne Of God being a stripper would offend those who take their Christian beliefs seriously.

So if you’re one of those, go onto another review right now. I’ll hold off on the rest of the review until you leave. That’s right…exit is over there to your left…please watch your step….yes, go on upstairs…The Wife has refreshments for you and I’ll let you know when the “DOGMA” review is finished and you can come back downstairs…please leave my dog alone, sir…

Okay, who’s left? Okay, I’ll tell the rest of you what the movie’s about…

Linda Fiorentino is Bethany Sloan, a backsliding Catholic who works at an abortion clinic who is woken out of a sound sleep one night by Metatron, an angel who appears as a pillar of flame in her bedroom. After Bethany apologies for turning the fire extinguisher on him, Metatron advises her that she has been picked for a Holy Quest. There are these two rogue angels who were exiled to Wisconsin eons ago that have found a loophole in The Divine Plan that will allow them to circumvent God’s Word and return to Heaven. Now, this is not good for Humanity since as we all know, God’s Word is infallible and if the rogue angels actually manage to achieve their goals, they will bring about the End Of All There Is.

Slackers Jay and Silent Bob who act as her bodyguards on her journey to prevent The End Of All That There Is join Bethany on her Holy Quest. This is despite the fact that Jay is totally obsessed with having sex with Bethany to the point that he makes her promise that if it looks as if they’ll fail in their mission and The End Of All There Is is imminent, she will have sex with him. Thank goodness for Silent Bob, who despite the fact that he does not speak (well, he does occasionally say a couple of words…and when he does, it’s usually very funny) seems to have a handle on this whole saving the world stuff and takes it all in stride. Bethany is also joined by Rufus, who claims that he was the 13th Apostle and was left out of The Bible due to racist policies on the part of the guys who wrote The Gospels. This incredibly unlikely band of heroes, along with Serendipity travel to a church in New Jersey where they must prevent the rogue angels from entering and thereby..ahh, you know the drill…

None of the above can even give you an idea of how laugh out loud, hilariously funny “DOGMA” is. Chris Rock as Rufus is his usual hilarious self without even trying, but the rest of the all-star cast is equally outrageously sidesplitting. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are outstanding as the rogue angels and some of the best parts of the movie includes some really well-written dialog between the two and there’s even some in-jokes Ben Affleck slips in regarding the tabloid rumors about him.  Who else? Well, Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith as Jay and Silent Bob are also excellent and Alan Rickman as Metatron is his usually wonderfully droll self.

But “DOGMA” isn’t just a comedy. It’s also got a lot of thought behind the subject matter and I cheer screenwriter Kevin Smith (who is a Catholic) for taking on such delicate subject matter and not only giving us scenes that are highly questionable in taste but also having some scenes that shows that he really cares about the material he’s dealing with and he’s not just interested in taking pot shots at organized religion. One scene that truly touched me is where Metatron explains to Bethany about the pain he felt the day he had to tell Jesus Christ what The Savior’s life’s mission was and there’s another scene where Bartelby rages at Loki how betrayed and lost he feels that God has placed humanity over angels. It’s an almost painful scene to watch and Ben Affleck does some truly fine work in this scene as we come to understand that his anger comes from a love betrayed: he’s jealous that God loves humanity over angels and there’s an irony in his jealousy: angels aren’t supposed to have human emotions but Affleck’s character feels nothing but jealousy and that makes him closer to humanity than any other angel.

If you want to watch “DOGMA” (and I DO recommend it) do so with an open mind and I think you’ll see there’s a lot in it to like. It’s a comedy, a road movie, an action-adventure, a live action comic book and a pretty darn good way to be entertained for two hours. It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen with a religious theme and even though it treats it’s subject matter in a way that may not be to everybody’s taste, it’s well worth watching just for the energetic performances and extremely entertaining story. And it even has GOD who shows up in the last fifteen minutes and GOD is quite sweet, innocent and likeable and even personable.

Dogma is rated R for some REALLY harsh and strong language, so if you’ve got delicate ears, don’t say I didn’t warn you. And if you hold with fundamental religious beliefs then this might not be the movie for you. Personally, I think this movie is filled with an abundance of faith and the affirmation that there is a God but the way that Kevin Smith presents certain ideas might be offensive to some.