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dogma1.jpg - 28.35 K 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.

dogma2.jpg - 10.14 K Director Kevin Smith (right) in trouble with the Catholic League Their latest box office hit, Kevin Smith's Dogma, found me with old friends, therefore, waiting eagerly in line. The film's title alone seemed an invitation to an iconoclast's feast while Roman Catholic priests had mercilessly pilloried the new movie in local media, not to mention typical threats by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

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.

An opening scene shows Matt Damon—an angel disguised as human who's been banished by God to "a place worse than Hell" (Wisconsin)—talking an alms-gathering nun out of her Catholicism. His monologue—a freethinker's delight—hints at the religious mayhem to come. The nun reflects, after listening to his rap, that she's already wasted much of her life. "Take that money you're collecting," advises the renegade angel, "and go buy yourself a new dress."

Ben Affleck, also a banished angel, thereafter takes Damon to task, asking why he's done what he's done. "You know for a fact there is a God," he says, "You've been in Her presence."

Previous Entertainment Features from the GayToday Archive:
Review: Good Will Hunting

Review: The Devil's Own

Review: There's Something About Mary

Related Sites:
Dogma:Official Site
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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.

dogma4.jpg - 9.63 K Chris Rock, Jason Mewes and Salma Hayek try to save the world from Affleck and Damon Bethany, a recovering Catholic (Linda Fiorentino) is chosen by God's softer Voice (angel Allan Ryckman) to save everybody. Needless to say, there's a race to—of all places—New Jersey—with angels jousting against the forces of evil (one of these forces is a huge blob of fecal matter) to prevent the end of the world.

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.

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