Movie Review: Dogma (Spoilers!)

Well, it sure has been a while.

I guess I should begin by apologizing to any followers (All two of you) for not posting anything for around a month. I’m sure this has created a deep emotional void in your soul that only illicit substance use can come close to filling.

Yup, that was my bad.

Truth be told, I haven’t had much time for writing in this month of September, 2013, what with the start of the school year, and my getting a job. And when I have been writing, it’s usually been dedicated to trying my hand at non-fiction. And even if I did try to blog, I ended up with sub-par results, even by my standards. I ended up with a shitty back-to-school related article that I ended up shelving, and a Musician Biography camouflaged as a blank sheet.

Fortunately, I did eventually get inspiration for a movie review from one of Kevin Smith’s better known films. While not as much of a household name as Clerks, it still managed to get some positive recognition and even piss some people off. Ladies and Gentlemen, once again, give it up for…

Dogma (movie).jpg

Directed By: Kevin Smith

Genre: Dark Comedy, Religious, Independant

Starring: Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, Jason Lee, Alan Rickman, George Carlin (R.I.P.)

Legacy: Ben Affleck’s last good pre- Hollywoodland movie before his descent into madness.

Plot: The movie opens with an old homeless man getting himself beaten into a coma by three roller-hockey playing teenagers outside of a skee ball arcade in New Jersey. Why does this sound like the setup to a George Carlin joke?

Speaking of which, the next scene takes  place in front of a church in New Jersey, where Cardinal Ignatius Glick (Played by the late king of comedy, George Carlin) unveils his plan to celebrate the centennial anniversary of his church via a plenary indulgence. For those not well-versed in Catholic theology, this would essentially mean that anyone who passes through the church doors has their sins forgiven and will be permitted to go to heaven upon death.  The references to Catholicism aren’t getting any less frequent from here on out.

Meanwhile, in distant Wisconsin, news of the plenary indulgence reaches a couple of fallen angels (Angels cast out of Heaven for rebellion against God), violent, unstable Loki (Matt Damon) and philosophical Bartleby (Ben “The Whipping Boy” Affleck), who were exiled from Paradise after Bartleby convinced a drunken Loki to renounce his job as the Angel of Death, which in God’s defense, does sound like it would be one bitch of a position to replace.

Sure, the salary isn’t as much as you’d think but really, the wholesale slaughter of the wicked is its own reward.

Anyways, Bartleby and Loki decide to set off for this church, deciding to go back home to Heaven via this loophole.

Meanwhile, in McHenry, Illinois, lifelong Roman Catholic Bethany Sloane (Men in Black‘s Linda Fiorentino) attends a sermon at church, where donations are being accepted to help out the old homeless guy in Jersey, who’s on life support. She later goes on to do her job at an abortion clinic. She’s a skeptical Catholic, by the way.

That night, Bethany is visited by the angel Metatron, who is the Voice of God (Alan Rickman) . He tells her about Loki and Bartleby’s plan and explains that if they use the loophole to get back to heaven, all of existence will be destroyed, as it would be overruling the word of God. I guess God doesn’t respond well to constructive criticism. Does this sound like someone else you know?

“Writing a nasty review for [Kevin Smith’s shitty-as-hell buddy cop movie] Cop Out is akin to bullying a retarded kid.”-Kevin Smith

However, Bethany resists the mission, as she has lost her faith in God after her divorce, a direct result of her infertility.

She wakes up and dismisses it as a dream. The very next day, she is attacked on her way back from work by the same three punks that assaulted the homeless guy in Jersey. Before they can assault her though, they are defeated by a couple  of pot-dealing Kevin Smith staples, Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith), two prophets that Metatron said would assist her on her journey. As she reluctantly accepts the journey and sets off with obnoxiously raunchy Jay and silently raunchy Bob, they are joined by Rufus (Chris Rock), the little known Thirteenth Apostle (Who was left out of the Bible for being black) and Serendipity (Salma Hayek), the smoking hot muse with severe writer’s block.

You got me. The entire purpose of this post was to have an excuse to use this photo. You would have done the same.

Overview:

This movie served as my introduction to Kevin Smith, who I only knew previously as the chubby director from New Jersey who calls people “cats” a lot. And I have to say, I’m pretty damn impressed. Smith, a lifelong Catholic, has crafted a pretty damn interesting world, and skillfully displays how to weave Catholic mythology into an entertaining piece of work. Now, personally, I’m an extremely skeptical agnostic (Though I did go to Bible Camp when I was seven) and couldn’t give one shit about somebody’s religion unless they were using it as an excuse to hurt somebody, but I must admit, this movie got me interested in Catholicism.

Well, this movie and the pope.

Now, am I going to get myself baptized at age sixteen? Of course not. There’s too many things standing in the way of me and religious faith (Namely, science and logic) but man, can I ever respect the idea of making religion actually look entertaining. Sure, the dickless angels are a bit much, but overall, I enjoyed how the movie seemed to both pick on and maintain a hopeful optimism for the Catholic Faith.

However, I do have a problem with the movie’s jokes. It’s not that I’m insulted by the digs at religion, because, as I arrogantly said before, I really couldn’t care less. It’s just that the movie seems to suffer from long stretches of little to no jokes.  I found myself more drawn in by the presentation and the performances, which is fine, but one would expect that a comedy movie, especially one starring George Carlin and Chris Rock, would be quite funny. It’s not like it’s completely humourless. There were a couple of moments where I laughed out loud, and Jay and Silent Bob were hilarious. However, maybe it’s not that the movie wasn’t funny enough. Maybe it’s just that Linda Fiorentino ruined all the lines that were supposed to be funny.

With all due respect to Ms. Fiorentino, she was utterly terrible in this movie. I didn’t like how she played her character, how she delivered her lines, or how she never, not once in the entire fucking film, broke the role of “surly middle aged woman who says everything in a snarky tone of voice.” She took me completely out of the movie, and single-handedly demotes this movie from a must-buy to a rental.

The rest of the cast, however, does a bang-up job. Affleck and Damon do great jobs as the fallen angels, and are obviously having fun with their respective roles, as demonstrated in the scene where they pass judgement on and subsequently murder a room full of fast food CEO’s. Carlin is funny, though criminally underused, and Mewes and Smith had field days with their characters. Alan Rickman was awesome, as always, Hayek was awesome (And unfathomably hot) and Chris Rock was excellent as the racially-discriminated apostle. (SPOILER ALERT) Alanis Morrisette was also in this movie, as God’s True Form, a mute Manic Pixie Dream Girl. This is more perplexing than anything else.

Overall:

Sure, there are parts where the comedy isn’t quite up to snuff, and Linda Fiorentino definitely wasn’t helping, but excellent casting (Aside from you-know-who) and an extremely interesting plot make this movie a notable, if not spectacular, indie comedy.

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