Dogma [retro review]

“Do you go around drenching everyone that comes into your room with flameretardent chemicals?  No wonder you’re still single.”

The Scoop: 1999 R, directed by Kevin Smith and starring Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Linda Fiorentino.

Tagline: Faith is a funny thing.

Summary Capsule: An abortion clinic doctor, the 13th apostle, a muse, and two notorious prophets must stop a pair of fallen angels from reentering heaven.

Justin’s Rating: Downshifting to 1st at 95 mph.

Justin’s Review: We return to the land of Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats), and it’s comfortably like going back to a very strange hometown and some friendly foul mouthed inhabitants. This time, we’re in for a bit of religious satire, bloody action, and more classic Things You’ll Never See In Any Other Movie.

Welcome to Dogma, a savagely funny look at Catholicism specifically and religion in general. Two fallen angels, Loki (Matt “Smarty Pants” Damon) and Bartleby (Ben “Animal Crackers” Affleck), have found a loophole in Catholic dogma that would allow them back into heaven. Small problem — doing so would negate the infallibility of God and wipe out all existence. Thus, a seraphim named Metatron (Alan “With A Spoon!” Rickman) assigned abortion clinic worker Bethany (Linda “Linda” Fiorentino) to stop them. Along the way, Bethany is helped out by the 13th Apostle (Chris “I Have No Reason To Be In A Lethal Weapon Movie” Rock), an ex-muse (Salma “Hoo-Boy!” Hayek), and our favorite pair of wanna-be prophets, Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith). In fact, this is starting to resemble a cast list more than a review, but I shall boldly struggle on.

Whether you’re going to be offended by the film depends on your ability to have a sense of humor. Some lobbies are giving them out as promotional items when you buy Dogma tickets. Does it poke fun of Christian tradition? Yes. Does some of its theology seem like it comes from a third grader’s perception of religion? Yes. But does it make some really good points about Christianity while not going so far over the line as to send your local clergy into comas? Yes, yes, yes. I’m not personally speaking for the entire Christian populace, but I think that if you can get some measure of truth out of a film, then it’s worth seeing.

That aside, let us recognize Dogma as the finest Jay and Silent Bob outing yet! These oversexed goons are given a lot more footage and leeway to expand their characters… not like there’s a lot of depth to explore or anything. Even while a key player in a plot to save the world, Jay has nothing but sex, drugs, and more sex on the mind (Rufus tells him he masturbates more than anyone on the planet, a fact to which Jay proudly admits). Silent Bob is the powerhouse of the two, kicking angels and demons alike (and, yes, he gets only one line in the whole film) (okay, technically he has two lines).

Peppered through this movie are commentaries on corporate greed, adultery, and monsters made utterly out of poop. Dogma is more of a mix of genres than Smith’s previous trilogy. It has a lot of comedic moments, but it really isn’t all comedy. There’s a bit of drama, a smattering of action, a splat of gore (ever want to see an angel’s wings get blown off?), and a heavy dose of fantasy and special effects. And I’m not ashamed to say that the acting has come a long way from Clerks‘ long-stilted dialogue. The cast do rather impressive performances, despite that no one actor hogs all of the screen time. In fact, the only characters I thought grew dull during the film were Damon and Affleck.

Let us celebrate another fine entry into the ViewAskew universe. Dogma is both way ahead and way behind of its time, and it certainly deserves every accolade tossed in its direction.

Andie’s Rating: Only of the funniest, coolest movies ever.
Andie’s Review: Well, awhile back I wanted to review all of Kevin Smith’s movies, because I love them all, but, like, every mutant and his brother has reviewed them, so I decided not to jump on the band wagon. But then I saw Dogma and couldn’t let this one go. This movie made me laugh so hard, yet it also had some really great ideas about faith. I think they should show this at confirmation retreats, but it proabably wouldn’t fly.

Anyway, I think I know why the Catholics are so up in arms about this movie. It’s because they only got a little ways into it. They got as far as George Carlin as Cardinal Glick and the retiring of the crucifix and the unveiling of the new “Buddy Christ” statue and probably stroked out. If they only would’ve gotten a little farther into it, they would’ve discovered that Dogma isn’t dissing faith, it’s explaining it. And it has some awesome ideas, like how as long as you have faith, it doesn’t matter what denomination you are. And how the humans don’t realize how lucky they are to have what they have.

I really can’t say enough about this movie, I saw it twice in the theaters. I was glad to see more of Jay and Silent Bob, especially because I think Jay is hot and I thought Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were great, especially Ben Affleck’s parking garage rant. I also thought Chris Rock was hilarious. Overall, fantastic flick, everybody should see it.


PoolMan’s Rating:
Kevin Smith strikes again!
PoolMan’s Review: Okay, make room, good movie coming through! While Dogma has the unfortunate burden of being the movie that made the phrase “Kevin Smith Trilogy” a misnomer, it’s outstanding, man!

First things first. I am now, more than ever, convinced that all the watchdog groups who sprung up and cursed poor Kevin Smith for writing Dogma never, EVER saw it before they complained. Not once. Let me see if I can sum it up for you (to borrow from an abridged script I read): “God is just, loving and all-powerful, humans are prone to mistakes, faith is a blessing, and the name of God shouldn’t be used to justify murders or wars.” Did you notice anything offensive in there? Didn’t really think so.

Okay, okay, there’s a 7 foot tall poop demon. That was maybe a little uncalled for (and a little too easily defeated), but otherwise, this movie has everything going for it. There is some really good humour, both light and dark, a good amount of plot, some darned entertaining characters, and some truly thought provoking moments. What more do you want?

One more thing. I was SO skeptical about Ms. Morisette’s inclusion in the role of God before I saw Dogma. I have to admit, having seen it, I was actually kind of moved by her simple performance. One tends to forget that perhaps even the Almighty might enjoy smiling and standing on her head. That was really pleasant for me, and I enjoyed it a lot.

Cast aside all doubt, and catch up on your Dogma.

You see, Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.

Intermission!

  • Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson (Dante and Randal from Clerks) appear in bit roles: O’Halloran as a TV news reporter and Anderson as a gun shop owner.
  • I did not need to know what a genderless angel looks like.
  • Jay and Silent Bob join a gang!
  • For the uninformed (shame on you), Silent Bob’s line is taken from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Walter Flanagan reprises his role as “Fanboy”
  • God looks like she needs a babysitter…
  • Jay has a thing for the old bible cartoon Davey and Goliath?
  • That’s a very unconventional interpretation of The Walrus and the Carpenter.
  • Not only is God a woman… SHE’S CANADIAN!!!
  • Kevin Smith wrote Dogma after he produced Clerks, but waited until he had enough money for the elaborate special effects.
  • According to the credits of Dogma, Smith’s next film will be Clerks 2: Hardly Clerkin’.

Groovy Quotes

Loki: Let it never be said that your anal retentive attention to detail never yielded positive results.
Bartleby: You can’t be anal retentive if you don’t have an anus.

Clinic Girl: Girl, you need a man. If only for ten minutes.
Bethany: It’s been my experience that the average male is never a man – not even for ten minutes in his entire life span.
Clinic Girl: Uh-oh – that sounds militant. You thinking of joining the other side?
Bethany: Couldn’t do it. Women are insane.

Bethany: What are you?
Metatron: I’m pissed is what I am. D’you go around drenching everyone that comes into your room with flameretardent chemicals? No wonder you’re still single.

Metatron: So one day, Loki’s wiping out all the first born of Egypt…
Bethany: The Tenth Plague.
Metatron: See? Tell a person you’re the Metatron and they stare at you blankly; mention something out of a Charlton Heston movie and they’re suddenly theology scholars. May I continue uninterrupted?

Jay: Looks like we’re in charge of the gang now.

Bethany: You’re going to lead me somewhere.
Jay: Me lead you? Lady, look at me. I don’t even know where the hell I am half the time.

Cardinal Glick: Christ didn’t come to Earth to give us the willies, he came to help us out.

Loki: Mass genocide’s the most exhausting activity one can engage in, next to soccer.

Bethany: Maybe this is just me talking, but if I were in heaven, I wouldn’t care what the Bible said as long as they got the message right.

Muse: It’s not about who’s right or wrong. It doesn’t matter what you have faith in, just that you have faith.

Bartleby: These humans have besmirched everything he’s bestowed upon them. They were given paradise, they threw it away. They were given this planet, they destroyed it. They were favored best among all his endeavors and some of them don’t even believe he exists. And in spite of it all, he has shown them infinite patience at every turn.

Azreal: Oh no. I’ve seen way too many Bond movies to know that you never reveal all the details of your plan, no matter how close you may think you are to winning.

[about God]
Jay: What is this, The Piano? Why ain’t this broad talkin’?

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8 Comments

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