Dogma (1999)

Favorite Films

Written & Directed by Kevin Smith

Starring Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Chris Rock, Alan Rickman, Salma Hayek, Jason Lee, George Carlin, & Alanis Morissette

Release Date: November 12, 1999

Running Time: 2hr 10min

Rating: R

Bethany Sloane (Fiorentino), an abortion clinic employee (and lapsed Catholic) in Illinois, has been charged with a holy quest by the angel, Metatron (Rickman; who acts as the voice of God), to travel to a church in New Jersey. She must stop two fallen angels, Bartleby and Loki (Affleck and Damon) from entering said church (taking advantage of a loophole in Catholic dogma), which would negate the infallibility of God, thus erasing all existence!

Aiding her in this holy quest are stoner duo, Jay and Silent Bob (Mewes and Smith; who are apparently prophets, and hope Bethany will sleep with them), the forgotten 13th Apostle, Rufus (Rock; left out of the Bible because he’s black), a muse named Serendipity (Hayek; stuck stripping because of permanent writer’s block). But the demon, Azrael (Lee), will do all he can to make sure existence gets wiped out, including summoning a shit demon.

This was a film that spoke to me on personal level growing up. Like Smith, I too was raised Catholic (went to a catholic school for 10 years), so there were quite a few familiar things in here I could relate to. Crisis of faith, wondering why God let’s bad things happen, was Jesus black, the usual stuff. It helped me realize that it was ok to question things with religion, and that if you’re going to believe in a higher power it’s best to have a sense of humor.

Not everyone had this mentality at the time (and probably still don’t now). Before being released, the film faced heavy criticism from the Catholic League, who found the humor towards Catholicism blasphemous (Smith even got a couple death threats! Love thy neighbor y’all!). My theology teacher (hardcore Catholic, kind of the Professor Umbridge of Catholic school; this is only a mild exaggeration) was definitely not a fan, nor were a couple other members of the faculty. Still, the movie turned in a decent profit (controversy tends to do that, something uptight white people never seem to figure out), earning $44 million against a $10 million budget, making it Smith’s most successful film at the time.

No surprise here I’m sure, I love this movie. Besides the personal connection to it, I just think it’s really funny and entertaining. Seeing a most of Smith’s movies thank God during the end credits (really, look it up, I can’t speak for some his more recent films, but he definitely has in his Askewniverse films), I would say he wasn’t trying to be blasphemous. Does the movie poke fun at Catholicism? Of course it does, but it pokes fun at religion in general.

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