In Kevin Smith’s world there are Angels among us, they blaspheme, kill and covet – by my reckoning three of the Big Ten – perhaps Kevin thought 7 outta 10 ain’t bad?
They also look like the guys from Good Will Hunting!
These two angels, Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartleby (Ben Affleck) were cast from Heaven for things un-Angel-ly, though they believe they have discovered a loophole that will allow them access back to heaven, and they have 4 days to get to New Jersey to exploit it.
The problem there is that existence itself is based upon the principle that God is infallible, and proving him wrong in any way disproves that, meaning existence itself won’t… exist.
So every man and his Dog(ma) from both “sides” (you know up above and down below) are intent to either allow these two misguided Angels passage in order to create chaos or prevent them from fucking up the nice gig we humans have down here.
The finer points of the plot don’t matter here – suffice to say that the Church trying to get hipper and more accessible is a factor – what really drives the film is that the theological backdrop provides Kevin Smith’s many characters with a setting where his dialogue sounds more plausible, even with all the unnecessary and extraneous formal touches that no-one aside from he and his characters use in everyday life. But Angels, Demons and Apostles probably do (not sure if I need capitals there but I’d hate to piss off the Church!).
With the big G-(wo)Man being laid up and unable to step in it is up to his staff to prevent this unholy act.
Bethanie (Linda Fiorentino) is the initially unwilling human charged with the ultimate responsibility by the Metatron AKA voice of God (Alan Rickman), Rufus is the formerly unknown 13th Apostle (who proves his authenticity by stating that Jesus “still owes me twelve bucks!”), and Smith faves Jay and Silent Bob are essentially escorts along for the rise – and to provide much of the potty humour.
On the “Red” team are Azrael the demon (Jason Lee) and a few teenaged minions.
The ludicrous and way out setting is perfect for Kevin Smith to work with, being a pet project he obviously spent a great deal of time coming up with a plot that while far-fetched hangs together and is plausible in an impossible way. The script is often clever, the dialogue better than anything he has written since and there is lots of detail along the way that shows the time spend fine tuning the small things.
But with the good comes the not so good – though Smith thankfully keeps his indulgences minor – there are still various comic book references, a myriad of 80s references and wink-wink cameos, but it must be said they do all work or at least not detract from the good stuff.
And finally what other film can say that they have Salma Hayek as a stripper (I could give you 20 paragraphs on that 90 second scene alone!), a Shit-Demon, and who could forget the mass murder of fast food chain senior management topped off with the slaughter of hundreds of New Jersey-ites?
(Unfortunately this was made before Jersey Shore so they weren’t able to kill off the unbearably untalented Snooki – that might be a job for a Terminator in the future.)
I think Clerks remains Kevin Smith’s best film and Chasing Amy is his most accomplished, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the film he was most satisfied with, after all he managed to tick most of the “Kevin Smith Bingo TM” categories off (potty humour, 80s references, cameos, a cast of his familiars, drug references, Jay and Silent Bob, comic book parables etc) AND deal with his own religious questions at the same time, in a film that works quite well as a straight comedy – albeit of the dreaded controversial type – but even without the dick jokes (or lack thereof where Angels are concerned) the script is interesting enough that Dogma would be worth watching.
Of course if you are reading this and want me to address the film from a religious perspective – you’re wasting your time. It’s just a movie, a good movie dealing with religious themes, but still JUST A MOVIE!
Final Rating – 8 / 10. Smith should go back to writing his own stuff about things that matter to him, anything else could be perceived as a Cop Out, which wouldn’t be good.