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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Dogma

Starring: Ben Affleck, Chris Rock
Director: Kevin Smith
Rated: R
RunTime: 125 Minutes
Release Date: November 1999
Genres: Comedy, Religion

*Also starring: George Carlin, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Salma Hayek, Jason Lee, Alan Rickman, Janeane Garofalo, Alanis Morissette, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith

Review by John Beachem
1½ stars out of 4

Unusually high expectations are the bane of movie makers everywhere. They nearly succeeded in killing the new Star Wars film, they caused people to expect "The Mummy" to belong to a different genre, and they will most likely do a good job of killing Kevin Smith's latest outing, "Dogma". I must admit, I am guilty of having my expectations up a little too high, mainly because I so vastly enjoyed Smith's previous outings. So it is entirely possible that my review of this film is a tad biased.

Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartleby (Ben Affleck) are two angels who have been banished from heaven. However, they have just found a loophole in Catholic law which will permit their return to paradise. The catch is, if they succeed, all existence will be wiped out because God will have been shown to be fallible. The universe's only hope lies in the hands of Christ's descendent, Bethany (Linda Fiorentino). Bethany will be assisted by two prophets named Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith), and the 13th apostle, Rufus (Chris Rock). Working against them are the demon Azrael (Jason Lee), three kids with hockey sticks (dont ask), and the pair of angles themselves.

If there is one thing that Kevin Smith will be known for (other than for playing the hilarious Silent Bob), it is his ability to write witty dialogue. While "Dogma" certainly has its moments of wonderful dialogue, it is marred by long spans of rather dull talk regarding the nature of religion. The comic dialogue here is at its best when coming from Jason Mewes, who plays the recurring character from Smith's previous three films and from Alan Rickman as the voice of god, Metatron.

The cast here is really quite good. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon appear to be having a tremendous amount of fun with their roles, Chris Rock is amusing as the bitter, forgotten apostle, and Salma Hayek is delightful, as always, in a turn as the muse, Serendipity. In fact, the only person who seems out of place here is Linda Fiorentino. While normally a competent actress, she never seems particularly comfortable with her role here and delivers her lines in a particularly bored fashion.

While the film has been vastly criticized for its assaults on religion, I found them to be nothing more than playful jabs at those who are too set in their ways. The problem with this movie isn't its religious content, it's the fact that the jokes here are few and far between. Smith seems more concerned with trying to convey a moral message about understanding and the true meaning of religion than he does with making the film comical. While the message is all well and good, it isn't why most audiences are going to this film.

"Dogma" runs far too long at 130 minutes. In fact, I found myself drifting off several times during this exessively lengthy film. Due to this and the lack of humor, I'm forced to give "Dogma" two and a half stars and a recommendation to wait for video if you're really wanting to see it

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* * * * * - One of the greatest movies ever made, see it now. * * * * - Great flick. Try and catch this one. * * * - Okay movie, hits and misses. * * - Pretty bad. See it if you've got nothing better to do. * - One of the worst movies ever. See it only if you enjoy pain.

Copyright 2000 John Beachem

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