Two banished angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) have discovered a loophole that would allow them back into heaven; problem is, they'd destroy civilization in the process by proving God fallible. It's up to Bethany (Linda Fiorentino), a lapsed Catholic who works in an abortion clinic, to save the day, with some help from two so-called prophets (Smith and Jason Mewes, as their perennial characters Jay and Silent Bob), the heretofore unknown 13th apostle (Chris Rock), and a sexy, heavenly muse (the sublime Salma Hayek, who almost single-handedly steals the film). In some ways Dogma is a shaggy dog of a road movie--which hits a comic peak when Affleck and Fiorentino banter drunkenly on a train to New Jersey, not realizing they're mortal enemies--and segues into a comedy-action flick as the vengeful angels (who have a taste for blood) try to make their way into heaven. Smith's cast is exceptional--with Fiorentino lending a sardonic gravity to the proceedings, and Jason Lee smirking evilly as the horned devil Azrael--and the film shuffles good-naturedly to its climax (featuring Alanis Morissette as a beatifically silent God), but it just looks so unrelentingly... subpar. Credit Smith with being a daring writer but a less-than-stellar director. --Mark Englehart
The movie follows a disillusioned Catholic woman (Linda Fiorentino) on her journey, ordered by Metadron (Alan Rickman), to stop two fallen angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) from reentering heaven, thus rendering God's word reversible and ending the world as we know it. Along the way, she encounters workers of God, prophets, and the missing thirteenth apostle (Chris Rock, my favorite part of the movie). I'm not going to reveal any more of the plot, except to say that Alanis Morissette makes a pretty unexpected (and funny, when you consider the absurdity of it) appearance.
The great thing about "Dogma" is that it always seems to know exactly what it's doing. There's parts when it's supposed to be screwball humor (which is most of it), and parts when it's supposed to be more serious. It blends these two perfectly together, and the result makes you laugh and think at the same time. Truthfully, not many movies can do that. Sure, some may watch it only for the appearance of Kevin Smith regulars Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith himself, respectively) but if you look deeper, there's some real substance to this movie. It's not a bashing of the Catholic church; it's simply a movie that reminds you to ask questions. Highly recommended unless you're an easily offended Catholic.
Director: Kevin Smith
Cast: George Carlin ... Cardinal Ignatius Glick
Matt Damon ... Loki
Ben Affleck ... Bartleby
Linda Fiorentino ... Bethany Sloane
Jason Lee ... Azrael
Alan Rickman ... Metatron
Jason Mewes ... Jay
Kevin Smith ... Silent Bob
Chris Rock ... Rufus
Salma Hayek ... Serendipity
Tagline: "Faith is a funny thing."
Plot Summary: Here goes. Two angels who have been cast from heaven hatch a plot to thwart God's plans. Um...meanwhile, a woman who has lost her faith is commissioned by God to stop them, and she learns a lot about herself and about God in the process.
Review and Comments: There, how'd I do? It's freaking HARD to summarize what happens in this movie. Going into it, I had NO IDEA what was going to happen in this movie, and I was totally shocked by what I saw. But we'll get to that in a minute. First...
Main Entry: com•e•dy
Inflected Form(s): plural -dies
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French comedie, from Latin comoedia, from Greek kOmOidia, from kOmos revel + aeidein to sing -- more at ODE
1 a : a medieval narrative that ends happily b : a literary work written in a comic style or treating a comic theme
2 a : a drama of light and amusing character and typically with a happy ending
3 : a ludicrous or farcical event or series of events
4 a : the comic element: humorous entertainment
Now. When I pay money to watch a comedy, I expect that perhaps serious things will happen, but that overall, this things will be portrayed in a humorous light and that the proceedings will go down easy, even when said comedy contains things I probably shouldn't laugh at-i.e. things most people would find offensive. I expected to find lots of things that most people find offensive in this movie, since I knew it dealt with religion and most people totally lack a sense of humor when it comes to religion. When I was discussing this movie with someone who told me that it might offend me, I said that I could handle it, because, after all, "God has a sense of humor." I was highly amused to find that exact declaration at the beginning of this movie, in the utterly hilarious series of disclaimers. I thought I was ready for whatever happened in this movie.
Is everyone familiar with the term "Dark Comedy"? This term regards events that are serious, but presented in such a way that they elicit laughter...often in a "You have to laugh or you'll cry" sense. Well, if that's the definition of a dark comedy, then Dogma is a pitch black comedy of the darkest kind. There are scores of violent onscreen murders, there's angel dismemberment, and there's a scary performance that moved me to declare, "Wow, Ben Affleck can act." In other words, there are tons of highly disturbing things that happen that I didn't expect, and I'd just like to warn people right now that while this is an intensely entertaining and overall fun film, there are some downright freaky moments that nearly caused me to have a heart attack because I wasn't expecting them. Be forewarned.
I'm familiar with the journey story outline taken here...a character embarks on a journey, gathers friends along the way, learns some kind of a lesson through the proceedings, and is a changed person when the movie ends. In this movie, most of the lessons are about faith; about believing in something you cannot see. Within the mythology of the film, no denomination or church has gotten everything right about God, so it's fun to watch the different reactions when the characters learn the truth about what God is really like (and the complex heavenly infrastructure, complete with angels and demons and...Muses? From Greek Mythology? Ok...).
I have a very strong faith in God (a faith that has helped me through many difficult times, and a faith that is so strong it moves me to capitalize the "G" in God even when I try not to), and because of my faith I can fully relate to the quandaries faced by the lead character Bethany. God can be cruel. God's plan is hard to understand. Life often doesn't make sense. And the one that people often refuse to say...God is freaking WEIRD. This movie captures that weird spirit perfectly. The quest that is given to Bethany is weird, and the companions that she picks up along the way on this journey are even weirder.
But central to all the weird happenings, the movie has a good heart. The things Bethany learns as she proceeds along this journey and the way she comes to a realization of God's love are moving. The whacky moments are plentiful...just about everything that happens is weird in one way or another. And the action is top notch, keeping me on the edge of my seat as I was drawn into this world. My head filled with a seemingly endless stream of questions that kept me guessing...Will the demons prevail? Will the angels succeed in thwarting God's plan, thus proving God fallible and destroying the premise upon which the world is built-that God can't be wrong? How many people will have to die strangely disturbing violent deaths before this film isn't classified as a comedy by most video stores? I was so drawn into what was happeniong that when the movie finally ended, I was still thinking about the ideas it had presented. Most people don't talk about this this, but in the bible, lots of things happen that make no sense, and people are forced to trust in God even when they don't have answers. That's what this is about, and I loved seeing it presented in this way.
In fact, I loved every minute of this movie...whether I was laughing or crying or covering my eyes or gasping in disgust. This movie surprised me so thoroughly that my first thought after finishing it was to watch it over again to see what I'd missed the first time. I absolutely loved it, even as I realize why it offended so many people. So maybe I can't watch it with most of my friends. I love it anyway.
The Bottom Line: I repeat: God has a sense of humor. So do I. This movie is indescribably weird in every possible way (and in a few ways that I once thought were impossible) but it's engaging, exciting, and hilarious as well.
Example: Rock flops down and is asked if he knows Christ. Read more