Chef Kevin Smith, cooks up a tasty dish that is one part Clerks, two parts religious satire.
DOGMA, starring Ben Affleck (Armageddon, Shakespeare In Love, Dazed and Confused) and Matt Damon (Saving Private Ryan, Good Will Hunting, Rounders) as black-balled angels seeking to regain their place in Heaven by exploiting a biblical loophole, is Kevin Smith’s most ambitious effort yet as a film writer and director.
The film, which offers a satirical look at religion’s place in modern-day America, is classic Smith through and through. DOGMA’s script is chock-full of the same kind of no-holds-barred banter that Smith first treated audiences to in the film Clerks. The observations his characters make about pop culture and about ordinary life issues that even Jerry Seinfeld wouldn’t dare touch in a monologue are as wickedly funny as they are insightful. In DOGMA, however, Smith takes his caustic and witty dialogue to another level by doing the unthinkable and placing organized religion in its direct line of fire (Disney’s Miramax unit was forced to sell the rights to the film due to the backlash it received from Catholic watchdog groups). Smith challenges many of the widely held Christian tenets by presenting us with, among other things, a female God, a black Jesus and a sexually active Mary. By doing so, Smith makes the point that what truly matters is not what we believe, but simply that we do believe.
To fill the numerous roles in DOGMA, Smith assembled what has to be among the most eclectic mixes of talent ever to appear in a film. In addition to the aforementioned Affleck and Damon, the film also stars, Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mall Rats, Chasing Amy), Linda Fiorentino (Men In Black, The Last Seduction, Vision Quest), Alan Rickman (Sense and Sensibility, Robin Hood, Die Hard), Chris Rock (Lethal Weapon 4, Dr. Doolittle, Boomerang), Salma Hayek (Wild Wild West, 54, Desperado), Jason Lee (Mall Rats, Chasing Amy, and Enemy of the State), and comedian, George Carlin. In addition, the film contains several interesting cameos that I wouldn’t dare reveal (for those of you who don’t yet know).
While there are several notable performances in the movie, particularly those of Alan Rickman and Jason Lee, not surprisingly, it is the film’s sensational sidekicks that steal the show – and I’m not talking about Damon and Affleck.
As far as I’m concerned, Kevin Smith could make a film version of Masterpiece Theatre, and as long as Jay and Silent Bob are in it I’ll be there on opening night.
By: Craig Ettinger