Review by Kelly Grosskreutz
Starring: Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Alan Rickman, Chris Rock, Salma Hayak, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, and Kevin Smith
Director: Kevin Smith
Rating: Super Star Destroyer
Kevin Smith really went all out on this movie. I remember the first time I saw it, my family and I agreed: this one feels like a genuine movie. Sitting down to watch Dogma, I felt like I was watching a movie that had some quality in it, instead of just a generic movie.
Although my wording may have just lost everyone reading this, I think the major difference in feel between this movie and Smith's previous ones is in the directing. I don't know all that much about directing, but he is doing something different here. Whatever it is, he should keep up, because it definitely worked.
In Dogma, two fallen angels, played by Affleck and Damon, have been exiled to Wisconsin for all eternity. They are tipped off to a loophole in Catholic doctrine that will allow them to reenter heaven. However, if they succeed in their quest, they will have proven God wrong, and therefore they will unmake all of existence, because everything is built on the principle that God is never wrong. An abortion clinic worker (Fiorentino) is called upon to stop the fallen angels from attaining their goal, which involves entering a particular church in New Jersey. She is aided in her quest by the Thirteenth Apostle (Rock), a Muse (Hayak), the Voice of God (Rickman), and two very unlikely prophets (Mewes and Smith, reprising their Jay and Silent Bob roles).
I am impressed with this movie across the board. I've already addressed the directing as best as I can, but the acting and the writing were also excellent. When it comes to acting, I can't think of one weak spot. Jason Lee, in particular, stands out in my mind. I'm used to seeing him playing slacker-type roles, playing the best friend of the main man. I didn't even recognize him here, however, and didn't even realize he was in this movie until I saw his name in the credits. His portrayal of the evil Azrael is simply phenomenal. Affleck and Damon have excellent chemistry together, and this movie lets it shine. Mewes and Smith are also up to the task, putting in their best yet performance as Jay and Silent Bob. Smith can make the funniest faces sometimes. 8)
The writing may be Smith's best yet. When this movie came out, there was some hoopla about the religious content and about it being anti-Catholic. Granted, I am not Catholic, but I didn't feel it really insulted any faith. Instead, some very interesting questions and debates were addressed or touched upon. For example, God is usually referred to as He. This movie constantly keeps switching gender pronouns when referring to God, and we really do see God portrayed as both male and female. Yes, the male version is present, although most people tend to comment on and notice the female, mainly because of the actress chosen to play her. I thought this was an interesting way to demonstrate that God really cannot be defined by gender.
Far from being a preachy movie, though, Dogma is full of Smith's trademark humor and quirky writing. Being a prophet definitely has not changed Jay, who is still interested in having sex with every woman on the planet. The movie resembles Chasing Amy more than the other two in that comedy and drama are expertly mixed together. Instead of being about romantic relationships or friendship, however, this movie is more about the individual and their relationship with the Almighty.
If I am required to find one thing in this movie that I could have done without, I would have to say it would be the Golgothan. Not that I had a problem with the concept of the Golgothan, but it was just disgusting to look at. Yes, I know it was supposed to be disgusting to look at, but I really would rather not have had to look at it just the same. But any actual flaws? None are coming to mind at the moment.
I pretty much cannot think of one reason why you should not see Dogma. I strongly recommend it to everyone. Well, maybe not the little ones, who would probably be bored by it anyway, but I recommend it to any adult who either is interested in seeing a different take on religion and faith or to someone looking for something that takes a departure from the normal moviegoing fare.
Reviewed February 25, 2001 by Kelly M. Grosskreutz.