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DOGMA

Review by Andrew Manning (11/99)

Release: 1999, Lion's Gate
Starring: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Linda Fiorentino, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock, Jason Lee, Alan Rickman, Janeane Garofalo, George Carlin, Alanis Morissette, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes
Director: Kevin Smith
MPAA Rating: [R] language, sexuality, violence
Genre: Comedy
Runtime: 130 minutes


Get 'touched' by an angel...


SUMMARY


Two fallen angels (Damon and Affleck) trying to get back into heaven attempt to exploit a loophole in Catholic faith. The only catch: doing so will undo creation. It's therefore up to a band of misfits, spearheaded by the last known descendant of Christ (Fiorentino), to stop the angelic duo.


THE SEVEN-SECOND RUNDOWN


The best comedy of the year, period.


WHAT'S GOOD


I have been eagerly awaiting this film ever since its minuscule plug in the closing credits of Chasing Amy, which said that Jay and Silent Bob could be seen in the upcoming film Dogma. For those of you unfamiliar with them, Jay and Silent Bob are a hilarious pair that have recurred in three of director Kevin Smith's movies: Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy. Arguably the best part of each of those films, Jay (Jason Mewes) is a pot dealing slacker with a propensity for foul language, and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) is his usually muted "tubby bitch." Dogma finds them back in true form, and thankfully in center stage. And to top it off, the rest of the cast is great, too...

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck play Loki and Bartleby, two fallen angels trying to get back into heaven by screwing the system. It's sort of strange, but I've always noted that Affleck has an infinitely better chemistry with buddy Damon than any leading lady he's shared the screen with. There was no spark with Liv Tyler in Armageddon, Sandra Bullock in Forces of Nature, Joey Lauren Adams in Chasing Amy, and Charlize Theron in the upcoming Reindeer Games. But in Good Will Hunting, he had a good thing going with Matt Damon, and the two work well here, as well. Go figure.

Loki and Bartleby are interesting characters that would have made the movie even if they had to do it without the rest of the ensemble. Loki, the ousted angel of death, is the flamboyant, mischievous one, while Bartleby plays everything more straight faced. They make entertaining observations about mortals and their habits, all the while acting like they're out for a stroll through Disneyland instead of on the brink of destroying all creation.


Jay and Silent Bob

George Carlin

Out to thwart them is a hilarious group of unlikely heroes. There's Bethany (Linda Fiorentino), a descendant of Christ who receives the burden of stopping the angels. She's joined by two prophets (the aforementioned, afore-praised Jay and Silent Bob, no less!) and the 13th Apostle, Rufus (Chris Rock). Rufus is carrying around a 2,000 year old grudge, bitter because he feels he was discriminated against in the time of Christ because he's black! If that ain't a riot, what is?

Then there's Alan Rickman, Kevin Smith-regular Jason Lee, and George Carlin as an off-kilter cardinal. (I thought he was the pope, what with decreeing dogma and all--but people have since e-mailed me saying he was a cardinal.) A total bonus for me was seeing bestselling songstress Alanis Morissette as GOD. Absolutely funny. You'd expect God to be portrayed as an omnipotent, booming light--but instead, you get the Ironic Canadian rock chick kicking it in flesh and blood. And she plays it in a goofy/cute sort of way. It's like ra-a-ain on ya wedding day.

Salma Hayek is also here, as the Muse Serendipity. OH MY GOD, SHE IS OUTRAGEOUSLY GORGEOUS. Countering her beauty is the gross-out Sh*t Monster, an uproarious bit that is way out there...

Dogma offers some humorous observations on religion, but never makes it its mission to be anti-religious. A creative premise, fun performances, interesting ideas, hilarious vulgarity, and a healthy dose of Jay and Silent Bob make this my favorite comedy of the year, hands down.



Linda Fiorentino

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck


WHAT'S BAD


Of all the Kevin Smith films, Chasing Amy was my least favorite, because it had less of Jay and Silent Bob and more "serious moments." Plus, the secondary characters were a lot better than Amy and her chaser. In a way, Dogma has the hints of such problems: a few moments get a little too serious, and sometimes Jay and Silent Bob aren't spotlighted as much as they should be. Okay, okay, I might be going too far with this; but hell, if I had my way, this would have been the Jay and Silent Bob Show.

A word of warning: if you're the type that's so anal about religion that you think Alice Cooper and Pokemon are derived from the devil, then you'll probably find a way to be offended by this movie. If that's the case, then save us all a lot of complaining and skip it. Otherwise, pick up a grain or two of salt and enjoy this fun commentary on life, the universe, and everything!



Chris Rock

Salma Hayek...BABY!

Rating: 9 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)
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