Many things have been said about Kevin Smith's latest film and not
everything was good. This movie has created more controversy than 'Fight
Club'. It has been cursed by the Vatican and dozens of hate letters were
sent to its creator. It truly is provocative, constantly on the edge, but
also wonderfully refreshing. This is one of the kind -- a magnificent black
comedy which is savagely funny and imaginatively philosophic. It is witty,
accurate, fast paced and possibly one of the best satires in the history of
Starting with an apology that goes on for almost ten minutes, explaining to
the audience that all characters and events are fictions and are not ment to
be taken seriously, the story slowly takes shape.
Loki (Matt Damon) is an angel that got drunk and flicked off the Lord (among
others Alanis Morissette). Bartleby (Ben Affleck) is the co-conspirator who
indirectly got both himself, and Loki, permanently kicked out of Heaven for
Loki's infraction. Cardinal Glick (George Carlin) is the Catholic determined
to reinvigorate the Catholic church by eliminating sacred objects such as
Christ on the Crucifix, and replacing them with things such as Christ
winking, smiling and giving the "thumbs up" to fervent church-goers. In an
attempt to get people to give the "new and improved" Roman Catholic Church a
try, the Cardinal declares that anyone passing through the Church's doors
will be forgiven of all of their sins. This creates a loophole in church
dogma that will allow them to end their eternal exile in Wisconsin and
reenter the pearly gates of Heaven, sin-free. The problem is, if this
happens, God will be proven fallible, and all of existence will be erased.
With God having been put out of commission while on a holiday, the fate of
the world and all else rests with efforts of a ragtag bunch: Metatron (Alan
Rickman ), the angel who serves as the voice of God; Rufus (Chris Rock), the
bitter, heretofore unknown 13th Apostle; a heavenly Muse Serendipity (Salma
Hayek); a pair of familiar Prophets by the name Jay and Silent Bob (Jason
Mewes and Smith himself); and the reluctant key figure in thwarting the
renegade duo, Bethany (Linda Fiorentino), who has lost her faith in God,
when a heralding angel appears in her bedroom and declares her the last
descendant of Jesus and the potential savior of humanity. Of course there
are plenty of bad guys and nasty obstacles to get in the way of our heroes
and their attempt to save the past, present and future.
"Dogma" is never becomes boring or predictable. It is savagely funny with
its many humorous lines, such as the dialoge between the messanger of God
Metatron: Moses was a drunk. Look what he accomplished. And no one's even
asking you to part an ocean. All you have to do is go to New Jersey
Bethany: What's He like? God?
Metatron: Lonely. But funny. He's got a great sense of humor.
Or when the Muse is talking about her writing block:
Serendipity: Can you believe it? Me -- a muse, for God's sake! I sit down in
front of the typewriter, and what do I get? Nothing. Blank page. I can't
even write a grocery list.
Bethany: What about what you did with Jay and Silent Bob? You inspired them.
Serendipity: That's the cosmic joke. I can give out a zillion and nine ideas
a second, but I can't keep any for myself. Her [God's] quirky sense of
Between the humor and witty comparisons, lies a lot of intelligent and
thought provoking material. Smith is elegantly shifting from amusing comedy,
to intelligent drama, from sharp parody to creepy thriller. He plays with
religion, twisting and stretching it, posing it in another light. Sometimes
it feels like a humorous remake of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's
Dream", where heavens open up and the divine creatures come down from Heaven
and Hell to play with us. There is no pompous dialogue and Charlton Heston
is not descending a mountain with a set of tablets in hand, however "Dogma"
manages to exhibit a deep knowledge of not only the bible, and also the
tenets of Christianity throughout the ages. And although that's what Vatican
is stating, the audience will not be discouraged by this film, loosing their
beliefs. There is a lot of symbolism in this movie, that is helping us
realize that there is a supreme power that watches over us. The purpose of
this film is not to provoke hatred and misbelief, but instead to gain faith
and maybe look at the question of religion from a broader perspective.
When it comes to the visual aspect of this film, it is flawless. A solid
cinematography and fast paced editing are framing the actors' impressive
preformances. The two friends, Damon and Affleck, repeat the success of
"Good Will Hunting" and are both a joy to watch. Alan Rickman and Chris Rock
are fabulous, and Linda Fiorentino convincing. So, basically this should be
a hit at the box office. But it's not just its provocative style and risky
premise that stops "Dogma" from a being a serious Oscar-contender. There are
some silly moments, when Smith goes a bit too far and the originality
transforms into stupidity. But, forgetting these minor flops (luckily there
are not many of them), this is a revalation. Some serious questions are
raised about Catholic dogma and organized religion in general. By virtue of
their definition and the fact that they're in regards to religion, these
questions would understandably upset religious groups. But what those
objectors fail to see that the questions raised, such as the dangerous
differences between "beliefs" and "ideas," are intelligent ones that would
only spring from the mind of someone who takes his or her faith seriously.
It is a hilarious, intriguing, intelligent, bizarre and daring experience
that is a spectacular analysis of human behavior, our needs, beliefs and
problems since the beginning of time. The angry reactions that have met
Smith, prove that he has managed to create an epic and should be taken as a
compliment. And remember my words: "Dogma" will gain the status of a cult
film in five years tops.
- "Were you two sent to Hell? - "No. Worse -- Wisconsin!"