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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dogma


****½ Dogma. Comedy.

Directed by: Kevin Smith.
Starring: Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Chris Rock, Alan Rickman, Jason Lee, Salma Hayek, Janeane Garofalo, George Carlin, Alanis Morissette


This was going to be the third movie Camden and I watched while Carl was gone, but Carl got home earlier than he'd expected, when we were about a half hour into the movie, so we started it over again from the beginning and he watched it with us.

As it says in the trailer above, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck play two fallen angels who are trying to exploit a loophole in Catholic dogma to get back to heaven. Unfortunately for the rest of us, if they succeed, it would mean the end of all existence. So an angel (Alan Rickman) is sent to enlist a seemingly ordinary woman (Linda Fiorentino) to stop them. She gets help from Jay and Silent Bob; Rufus, the 13th apostle (Chris Rock); and the muse Serendipity (Salma Hayek). George Carlin plays a cardinal, which is hilarious if you've ever heard any of his stand-up bits about religion. And Janeane Garofalo has too small a part as Linda Fiorentino's friend and co-worker.

There's a big disclaimer at the beginning of the movie saying it's fiction and a comedy, but even so, it's definitely not for anyone who doesn't see room for humor in religion. Interestingly, I think this point is made best in an early scene in which Loki (Matt Damon) is convincing a nun that she's wasted her life and there really isn't a God, and then Bartleby (Ben Affleck) calls him on it and points out that Loki knows there is a God. In a similar way, the movie only challenges the faith of those whose faith is shaky to begin with--the movie takes God's existence as more than a matter of faith--it takes it as a matter of fact.

My only complaint was the portrayal of God by Alanis Morissette. And it was probably just me, because I was trying to explain what felt wrong about it to Carl and Camden, and neither of them understood. But I'll see if writing it down clarifies things. I'm perfectly fine with the female portrayal, particularly as they point out in the movie that God isn't male OR female. And I can appreciate the carefree, happy portrayal as well--it would make sense that God would take joy in his/her creation. But... she was just a little off. Just a little more toward the goofy side of carefree and happy, where I'd have preferred and/or expected the portrayal to be more toward the joyous side. Actually, I think it was the clumsiness that most put me off. It just didn't seem to fit with the character as previously depicted in the movie.

Ah. I've got it now. Yes, it was the clumsiness. Clumsy implies fallible. And the entire premise of the movie hinges on the fact that God is infallible (if God isn't infallible, it's the end of existence). *Whew* I feel better now.

Anyway, it's a wonderful movie with an all-star cast, and we all loved it. One of these days we'll have to watch the second disc and the special features.


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Comments:
I was unsure about seeing this movie, but now that I've seen your review on it...I think I will watch it. Netflix it of course :)

Glad to see you and your family enjoying the movie. Great review!
 
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