Worth A Look: 26.88%
Pretty Bad: 10.48%
Total Crap: 8.66%
21 reviews, 313 user ratings
by Scott Weinberg
It's tough to figure this Smith fella out. Especially if you're a fan of, which I think I am. Two of his movies have been hysterically funny and fun, the other two are indulgent junk. Yes, Dogma has a few things worth recommending, but I think we should perhaps expect a little more from Kevin by now.The two renegade angels are trying to cross a portal that will allow them to re-enter heaven, thereby negating all existence in the process. (Just a nasty side effect to them.) So we get introduced to a whole variety of wacky biblical and contemporary characters. Let's break this down into the components--
"Come on--Don't be afraid to say it was weak."
Linda Fiorentino-- A darn good actress who looks lost. She gives a good performance, but it's like she can tell most of this is just way too silly.
Chris Rock-- Certainly gives a better performance here than he did in Lethal Weapon 4, but I suppose that's not really saying all that much. His comic delivery is as sharp as always, and his exasperated and profane Apostle is one of the movies' highlights. I may be biased, however, since I think Chris Rock is always funny.
Alan Rickman-- Sure, a good character actor, but he has the worst teeth I have ever seen. Hey, doesn't the Screen Actors Guild have a dental plan?
Salma Hayak-- Disclaimer: I am a male who certainly appreciates the >assets< that Ms. Hayak possesses. Having said that, I know say this: She has NO PURPOSE in this movie at all. Her character does nothing. At all. Seriously.
Jason Lee-- A damn funny actor absolutely WASTED. I was stunned, all things considered.
Ben Affleck-- Lantern-Jaw strikes again. He's so wooden, I keep expecting someone to chain themselves to him. His "nasty blow-up" scene at the end reminded me of a petulant toddler screaming at the mall around Christmas time because his welfare parents won't buy him G.I. Joe with the Kung-Fu grip.
Matt Damon-- He actually seems to be having a good time here. It's too bad he decided to become Affleck's sidekick, because Damon has more screen presence and likability than Affleck has jawbone.
Jason Mewes & Kevin Smith- As Jay and Silent Bob, they were brilliantly funny in Clerks. They were right at home in the unwatchable Mallrats, and they were wisely moved to the background in Chasing Amy. (Although their scenes in CA were pretty darn good.) In Dogma, they're front and center, and they negate anything potentially thought-provoking their scenes may present. So many scenes in Dogma are punctuated with a throwaway raunch line or pot reference. It's a cheap way to end a scene, especially if you're trying to make a point. They're distracting, overly-cartoony, and completely out-of-place. Come on, like you weren't cringing in their endless 'introduction scene'.
There are some pretty interesting cameos by the like of George Carlin, Janeane Garofalo, and even Alanis Morisette, but they're not enough window dressing to distract you from the disappointing movie surrounding them.
The religious points that many critics are praising this movie for are pretty flimsy as well. OK, maybe my being a JEW has something to do with it, but a scene in which a giant shit monster appears and everyone on-screen quickly explains it's biblical signifigance is NOT a movie that expects to provoke some deep inner thought. Yes, Kevin Smith is brilliant writer of dialogue, but plot and dialogue are not the same thing. Scenes go on way too long, and then are ended abruptly. The pacing is all off, and the violence is too cartoony, and it deflates your suspension of disbelief at almost every turn.
OK, so this was a big controversial movie for Kevin Smith. It had a solid opening weekend, so he'll be happy. I don't see it having much of a shelf life, though. He'll do plenty more movies, and we'll be calling Dogma one of his misfires. Big deal. Again, I do give solid points for his dialogue. It's alternately profane and cerebral in a tennis-match kind of way. Too bad almost everything else about Dogma seems like a big sloppy mess.
SEVERAL YEARS LATER NOTE: I do not come back and make revisions on my reviews, but I thought it only fair to mention the following: Dogma absolutely improves upon repeat viewings. After seeing it a few more times, I've found a lot more to like. So consider me now enlightened.I give it a very small recommendation, mainly for curiousity value and for a few really funny lines. It's not nearly enough to save the movie completely, but it's not unwatchable either. Movies that make me have to ride the fence like this piss me off. Sorry.
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originally posted: 11/16/99 13:17:02
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