14 – Dogma

This offering from the director of Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy tackles a wide range of religious and social issues, but by no means can one write it off as a self-serious, pretentious epic.

The story tells of two fallen angels, Loki and Bartleby (played by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck), who have been suffering on Earth as immortals for many millenia after their expulsion from Heaven back in the old days. Suddenly, they’ve found a loophole in celestial logic that will allow them to return home to Heaven – through a church in (where else?) New Jersey. (And if you think entering Heaven through a church in NJ is weird enough, the two have been living all this time in Wisconsin.)

While Loki and Bartleby are journeying from Wisconsin to New Jersey, Bethany (Linda Fiorentino) is visited by an angel – the Voice of God, actually – in the middle of the night in her bedroom. Voice (Alan Rickman) informs Bethany that she must journey to New Jersey to stop the angels from re-entering heaven, and that she will be aided in her quest by two prophets, that if the two angels re-enter Heaven, all reality will cease to be, and so on and so forth. Now you or I might be overwhelmed by such an outlandish request, and so is Bethany, but with a little prodding by Voice, she relents.

And there’s your plot, basically. Both the angels and Bethany are traveling to New Jersey (Red Bank, for those of you in the Garden State), although with different missions. Along the way, each runs into the requisite assortment of oddball characters. One of them is Rufus, the 13th Apostle (who claims he was left out of the Bible because he is black, and that Jesus Himself was black), played to the hilt by Chris Rock. Throw in George Carlin as a cardinal, Salma Hayek as another prophet, and Alanis Morrisette as God (don’t worry, she doesn’t speak, else your brain would melt and your heart would explode, or something like that), and you have one hell of a fun ride. Don’t get me wrong, folks, this isn’t a film of whimsey or non-stop mirth, but this is also not a overbearing, pompous, this-is-how-it-happened-and-damn-you-if-you-don’t-believe-me kind of movie. In fact, although the closing scene isn’t quite as good as the rest of the movie, this is one of the more intelligent films to come out in a while. One reason I feel this way is that there’s hardly any plot contrivances – specifically, things tossed into the plot just for the sake of being there, rather than serving a purpose. Everything – and I mean everyhing – has an explanation. This is a movie that appears to have been pretty well-researched.

PRO: Fine performances, fast pace, excellent script

CON: Might offend devout worshippers; also, the abortion issue is touched on a little

Dogma: 7

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One Response to “14 – Dogma”

  1. lancelot Says:

    thanks

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