This is why I’m a fan of Kevin Smith; he makes movies that he personally relates to and just makes a comedy in his universe that we all know as the View Askewniverse. Back in 1999, a lot of people have predicted the world would end in 2000 due to the Y2K problem (funny). Even Christians had to send their message to the public that the apocalypse is nigh, especially the Left Behind books and movies. Kevin Smith used his Catholic faith as inspiration in making this movie. He had a bigger budget, more recognition, and more familiar stars who are casted to make this film. Upon the release of the film, Christian churches protested this movie for it was to make the end of the world to be a joked and fooled around. Even Kevin Smith had to make a jackass out of himself in joining the protest, which he said in “An Evening with Kevin Smith.” With so much controversy and recognition, let’s see how the end result of this film.
The concept of the film is two fallen angels are Bartleby (Affleck) and Loki (Damon), were banished from Heaven after an inebriated Loki, with Bartleby’s encouragement, resigned as the Angel of Death. Exiled to Wisconsin, the pair see their salvation when a church in Red Bank, New Jersey celebrates its centennial anniversary with a plenary indulgence. They can have their sins forgiven by passing through the doors of that church, and get access to Heaven. They fail to realize that this will overrule the word of God and destroy existence. These two will kill anyone who commits a sin, like that one scene where they shot a man in the buss for committing adultery and they stop at nothing. So who’s stopping these two fallen angels from doing such heinous actions? Well, surprisingly enough, an abortion clinic named Bethany Sloane. A messenger from god named Metatron, the voice of god, was sent to her to prevent Bartleby and Loki’s return to heaven. Bethany is attacked by the Stygian Triplets, but is saved by Jay and Silent Bob (YES!), two prophets whom Metatron said would appear.
Constantly, Jay and Silent Bob kept begging Bethany for sex and pretended to be in a relationship with her, but she continues to resist such temptation and move onward to her mission. She is also aided by Rufus (Chris Rock), the thirteenth apostle who was left out of the Bible for being black, and Serendipity (Salma Hayek), a Muse with writer’s block. The demon Azrael, a former Muse, warns Bartleby and Loki that the forces of Heaven and Hell are attempting to kill them, as Satan will not let them succeed where he has failed. Bartleby and Loki vows to to kill Bethany and her party from stopping them.
What’s most funny about this wild adventure is that Bethany is completely annoyed and is frustrated with everyone doing all the things that she does not want; sex with Jay and Silent Bob and converting back to Christianity with Serendipity and Rufus. Meanwhile we have Bartleby and Loki having a hard time trying to get to the Catholic Church and murder anyone who they see sinning. This epic somehow became a road movie, which we had a lot in the 1990s movies, like Dumb & Dumber, Tommy Boy, etc. Like all road movies, it’s not about the destination but the journey of getting there. The characters always stops by at a special location and do all sort of ridiculous decisions or have constant problems keeping from reaching their destination to make the film more interesting.
You can really see more than plenty of Christian and Biblical references throughout the film as you can see Smith’s beliefs come alive; like Bartleby and Loki discuss about intimacy, the angels discusses about passages from Revelations, and more. But like all of Kevin Smith’s films, there are a lot of well-written dialog that mixes very well with comedy. The character interactions really shines here as they become defensive and argue constantly to make the comedy to stay alive. One great example is when Chris Rock tries to prove to Jay and Silent Bob that he knows everything by saying that Jay is gay and to prove that he isn’t, they had to go to a strip club. It’s really one of those movies that you have to pay attention to the dialog to see what happens next, even though there are aspects of the film where there are cartoony comedy; Dogma is a blend between Clerks and Mallrats.
Even though that this film is proceeded as a fantasy-comedy, one of the biggest downfalls I have is that there isn’t enough fantasy in it. Other than the inclusion of angels, I really dislike the fact that its just as a cartoony comedy that happens to feature angels who rarely look like one. Sure it would be more than difficult to have angel characters to have wings on their backs and a halo on their heads, but Kevin Smith could have put in a lot more imagination in the film. One of my least favorite part of the film will always be the giant shit monster that was thrown in there and have no rhyme or reason to include it in the film. If they can put in a shit monster they minus well make other heavenly or hellacious creatures to go after our heroes. Even Azrael’s minions, why are they just children wearing hockey gear? It lost all threat and seriousness in the film. While everything in the end, where Bartleby and Loki started the apocalypse, actually felt like that was the whole film should have been instead. And one more thing, can any one get Linda Fiorentino who plays Bethany to get her more emotion when she’s so damn monotone at many instances? Seriously, she lacks in acting so much that it made her a very unlikable character nonetheless.
On to the positives, I really did like that road movie feel as the journey really did make everything interesting. It’s really nice to actually know what its like to see Jay and Silent Bob to really feel like main characters instead of a cameo appearance or a side character. Minus the Shit Monster and Azrael, this movie questions religion in a very funny way. I always thought it was a smart move by Smith by casting George Carlin as the Priest of the Catholic Church… that’s hilarious! Another one of my favorite aspects is Bartleby and Loki on a rampage in killing sinners, just like that scene where they shot all the businessmen in the boardroom for breaking the first commandment and their other sins they’ve exposed. There was that one scene where Bethany’s party ended up meeting Bartleby and Loki in the same train ride and that scene is one of the best parts of the movie.
So at the end result, what do I think of Dogma? It’s a mixed bag. There are a lot of instances where I was loving the story and the humor carried out by big names who were casted into the film. Other moments where I just cringe was the lack of imagination in many instances, moments that were cheap and lazy (demons and monsters), and especially Linda Fiorentino subpar acting. Overall I love the whole concept of the film, I just wished that it wasn’t as underwhelming like the “Left Behind” series is in making the time of revelations. There were a lot of likeable things in the film like much more screen time with Jay and Silent Bob, an impressive cast, and the great budget to richen the quality of the film, and even the climatic ending that felt that it fit so well together. No doubt this is a memorable flick and a great entry of the View Askewniverse series and it was more successful than Chasing Amy in the box office. This is the film that brought Kevin Smith to more recognition and without the controversy and hype around this film, who knows if we would have got “An Evening with Kevin Smith” to be released. Though it didn’t really have that much of an impact like Clerks or Chasing Amy did, it was a worthy successor to this series.
Things I love
- Salma Hayek pole dancing
- George Carlin as the pope
Things I like
- The concept of the film was interesting
- Jay and Silent Bob are finally main characters instead of cameo appearance
- The train scene (that was one of the best parts of the film)
- Characters interacting and questions religion in a humorous way
- The ending where they reach the Catholic Church
Things I dislike
- Lack of imagination when it comes to monsters and demons
- Azrael is a pathetic villain and his minions wearing hockey gear isn’t helping
- Linda Fiorentino’s acting was subpar and monotone
Things I hate
- Seriously! Where did they come up with the shit monster?
The Top Lister’s rating for Dogma – 4 out of 5