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Dogma (A Movie Review)

Updated: May 6, 2020



DOGMA  (1999)

Starring Linda Fiorentino, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Alan Rickman, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, George Carlin, Bud Cort, Brian O’Halloran, Janeane Garafalo and Alanis Morisette.

Screenplay by Kevin Smith.

Directed by Kevin Smith.

Distributed by Miramax Pictures.  128 minutes.   Rated R.

Kevin Smith’s Dogma has a lot of intriguing ideas – unlike his debut, and still his best film, Clerks, which was essentially about nothing.  But more like his previous film, Chasing Amy, this proves he knows how to bring up interesting possibilities and moral ambiguities, but he does not seem to be sure what to do with them once they are out there.

Dogma is not the sacrilege that its religious detractors claim.  In fact, it is a thoughtful take on the need for God in life… at least until the last ten minutes where everything just gets away from Smith.  The film tells the story of two fallen angels (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) who try to sneak back into heaven through an ecclesiastical loophole.  Heaven sends a posse out to stop them, led by an abortion clinic worker who is a distant relative of Mary Magdalene and small-time two drug dealers.

There are a lot of funny scenes (George Carlin as a hip Cardinal is a hoot) but eventually a weirdly cartoonish violence encroaches more and more until the film is knocked completely off course.  Also, Smith still has to figure out that what Spike Lee has finally caught on to – as an actor, his character of Silent Bob as well as his sidekick Jay (who have been in all four of Smith’s films, so far) are the worst part of the film.  Any other director would have cut them out.  Dogma ends up being a very worthy but flawed film. (11/99)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©1999 All rights reserved. Posted: November 12, 1999.

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