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Dogma

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4

All-Reviews.com 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 Greg King
3 stars out of 4

Who would have thought the final apocalyptic battle between the forces of good and evil for the future of the world would take place in New Jersey, of all places? Possibly only Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy, etc), the idiosyncratic writer/director who sets all his off beat, low budget comedies in his beloved New Jersey.

In the past, Smith's films have offended many with their misogynistic humour, their cynical take on relationships, and their decidedly anti-authoritarian stance. While Smith is obviously working with a bigger budget here, Dogma is little different in style or content from his earlier films. However, Dogma is a far more ambitious film, and finds Smith exploring more sophisticated themes and ideas. Smith deconstructs 2000 years of biblical mythology and Catholic dogma, as well as tackling issues of mortality, faith, and belief versus organised religion. Among the more contentious ideas offered up in Dogma are a female God (played with a curiously childlike grace by rock singer Alanis Morisette), a black Jesus, and a thirteenth, black apostle left out of the Bible for reasons of political correctness.

In Dogma, hot young stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck continue the familiar best buddy schtick they have perfected through films like Good Will Hunting, etc. The pair play Loki and Bartleby, two vengeful angels thrown out of heaven but anxious to return to the good graces after centuries in exile. They have now found a liturgical loophole that will enable them to re-enter heaven. However, if that happens, it will somehow prove the fallibility of God and thus destroy existence as we know it.

Tapped to prevent this cataclysmic event is Bethany (Linda Fiorentino, from The Last Seduction, etc), a lapsed Catholic who runs an abortion clinic in Pittsburgh. Also along to help out is hyper active, fast talking comic Chris Rock (Lethal Weapon 4, etc), who gets some of the film's best lines as the very annoyed and ignored 13th apostle Rufus. The hapless duo of Silent Bob (played by Smith himself) and Jay (Jason Mewes) have played gradually expanding roles in each of Smith's films, and here the pair are given a major role to play as they are mistaken for a couple of prophets mysteriously sent to assist Bethany in her mission.

Dogma is very funny stuff, with plenty of great one liners, Smith's irreverent, iconoclastic sense of humour, and the usual pop culture references. But Smith's penchant for clever writing often leads to great long patches of dialogue and unnecessary philosophising, that slow the film down to a crawl. His fondness for puerile scatological humour also surfaces, and while this base humour may appeal to some in the audience it will not sit as comfortably with others.

Fans of Smith's warped comic sensibility will find plenty to enjoy in Dogma, while those who have never really appreciated him or his films will find little here to redeem him in their eyes.

Copyright 2000 Greg King

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