https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=172&reviewer=14

Dogma

Reviewed By Filmink Magazine (owes us money)
Posted 02/07/00 13:12:56

"You just know somebody is going to hell."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

When a director brings out his opus, the world holds its breath. When that director is the man behind such grungy classics as Clerks and Chasing Amy, and the words “religious satire” spring forth, you just know somebody is going to hell. Theological analysis and slapstick comedy are two genres that don’t usually mix, but to the credit of writer/director Kevin Smith, he’s at least given it a serious bash. The result is a very funny work that will, ironically, do more to get the kids into Church than the Church itself has done in decades.

Two fallen angels (Affleck and Damon) want to get back into Heaven. When they find a loophole in Catholic dogma that absolves them of their sins, granting a potential return home, God will be proved fallible, which will undo all of existence. Normally the big guy Himself would fix such things, but He’s gone missing, which leaves it all down to an abortion clinic worker (Fiorentino), a couple of drug dealers (Smith and Mewes), the thirteenth apostle (Rock), a stripteasing muse (Hayek) and the ‘voice of God’ (Rickman) to save the universe. Sounds long winded? Well, yeah it is. That’s not to say that the film isn’t entertaining, just that a large portion of the running time is spent listening to the characters trying to explain just what the heck is going on.

Smith’s strength has always been his writing, which tends to vary wonderfully from teenage boy-talk to long, winding discussions on the human condition. Such dialogue generally needs room to breathe, and here that space is often lacking. The original cut of the film was nearly an hour longer than the final product and some of the scenes tend to suffer as a result, cramming fart jokes in alongside deep spiritual analyses, which tends to leave the performances looking uneven (Affleck is surprisingly good, but the usually subtle Lee goes far too over the top).

It must be said, these are all minor bones to pick with a film that is essentially a comedy designed to make you go home and think about what you believe. Essentially Smith’s only real failing is having too much story to tell and not enough time to tell it. --- Chris Parry

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.