Ben Affleck (left) and Matt Damon
star as fallen angels in Dogma
Review By Jack Nichols
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have lately become two of my favorite straight-identified male movie icons. They show up together everywhere in public: creative artists, staunch friends, bright commentators, happy-go-lucky young men who've been blessed with a late 90's sex appeal that steps far beyond old-fashioned 20th Century Eastwood-Stallone-Schwartzeneggerisms.
Word that anti-clerical comic, George Carlin, would be playing Cardinal Glick was no doubt enough to rattle Catholic confessional booths. Near the beginning of the film, Glick—in full church drag—holds a revisionist press conference to do what Catholicism has always done to survive through the centuries: self-mutate.
Behind him is a large banner that reads "Catholicism WOW!"—naming his revitalization campaign. Complaining about depressing church iconography--the old sadistic image of Jesus nailed to a cross--the Cardinal unveils a brand new Jesus: a winking-buddy-like-long-haired surfer dude confidently extending thumbs up.
This is how Dogma treats matters about which conventional folks remain reverent. Using pop culture's fashions, it introduces thoughts to developing mini-minds that were formerly unthinkable. For this reason alone, Dogma is a must for 15-year old nieces and nephews. Aunts and uncles, on the other hand, had best stay home unless they've been shock-proofed.
Those who recall George Burns' long-ago film portrayal of God may be taken unawares by Dogma's transgendered Deity, played by Alanis Morissette. She makes occasional appearances on earth because She's addicted to playing skeeball. Aside from that she looks a bit goofy, smiling demurely, but never talking, inasmuch as Her voice is too loud to be heard by humans.
Chris Rock is Rufus, a good guy Apostle who makes his entrance as a rear-end nude and whose name was omitted from the Bible on account of he was black. He, and several other good guys, including a rather odd pair of "prophets" played by Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith himself, help to stop Loki and Bartleby (the banished Damon & Affleck angels) from bringing all of existence to an untimely close.
Loki and Bartleby are on their way to Cardinal Glick's rededicated New Jersey church. Glick has unwittingly provided a loophole so they can re-enter heaven because he's offered plenary indulgences (resulting in sinlessness) to anyone who walks through his church's door. Should the banished angels do so, however, God's infallible Word would suddenly become fallible, thus erasing the entire universe.
While Dogma is surely a horror flick by Vatican standards, it reviles neither the concept of faith nor the supernatural. It does, however, ask some pertinent questions and could, therefore, send its audiences after viewing its final scenes, into a different world than they've inhabited before entering the theatre.
The only people who deserve an apology from the makers of Dogma, it seems, are the good citizens of Wisconsin. But they'll survive too, I suppose.