Dogma (1999)

6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Topics ripe for exploration and controversy

Everything is dumbed down by the inclusion of Jay and Silent Bob

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Dogma

Studio:  View Askew Productions

Genre(s):  Comedy

Release Date(s):  November 12, 1999

MPAA Rating:  R


A Wisconsin airport…this is Hell.

Two fallen angels have been banished to Wisconsin for eternity.  Now, Bartleby (Ben Affleck) and Loki (Matt Damon) have learned of a loophole in a new church in Red Banks, New Jersey that could get them back into Heaven…unfortunately unbeknownst to them, it also to initiate the apocalypse.  God is missing and Earth’s only hope could be the last scion…a woman named Bethany Sloane (Linda Fiorentino) who works in an abortion clinic.  Bethany finds herself travelling across the country with the Thirteenth apostle Rufus (Chris Rock), a muse named Serendipity (Salma Hayek), the voice of God Metatron (Alan Rickman), and Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Ben Affleck) to stop Bartleby, Loki, and a fallen muse named Azrael (Jason Lee).


Why do I always get blamed for the farts?

Written and directed by Kevin Smith, Dogma is a religious comedy which followed his critically acclaimed Chasing Amy from 1997.  The movie generally received positive reviews and had a modest showing at the box office.

After Chasing Amy, I had a lot of hope for Dogma.  It had a great set-up, material that is ripe for exploration, a hot-button topic, and a good cast.  This worked for a lot of the movie, but Kevin Smith opted out of the great religious discussion by placing characters more irritating than Jar-Jar Binks in the story.

Dogma is probably the perfect case of why Kevin Smith is his own worst enemy.  The basic framework of the story is great and looking at religion (with humor) is always fun.  Some of the aspects of the story are thought provoking, but other parts are more along the level of a grade schooler’s noticing of obvious flaws in the Bible’s logic.  The real problem is the inclusion of Jay and Silent Bob in the plot which lowers the film’s thought provoking depth a lot.


Isn’t it ironic that Alanis Morissette’s voice destroys people…don’t think?

The cast (besides Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) is great.  Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were still the “duo” at this time and play off each other with characters that change through the course of the film.  Chris Rock’s stand-up style works with Kevin Smith’s stand-up writing and Alan Rickman adds class.  I think Jason Lee’s part could have been boosted along with George Carlin but I do like Stygian Triplets Barret Hackney, Jared Pfenningwerth, and Kitao Sakurai.  The movie also features appearances by Bud Cort and Janeane Garofalo and Smith regulars Dwight Ewell, Walter Flanagan, Jeff Anderson, and Brian O’Halloran.  One of the more noted casting choices was Smith’s inclusion of Alanis Morissette as God at the end of the film.


I just drank some Red Bull!!!

The film also looks pretty good.  Smith hadn’t really used special effects up until this point, and this movie has a few of them.  The looks almost feel a bit more throwback in style (which I’m fine with), and things like the Golgothan (aka S*!?-Demon) is pretty basic.  The angel look of Bartleby and Loki reminds me a lot of Flash Gordon’s winged warriors.

Dogma just doesn’t quite work for me.  The movie gets close, but falters due to Smith’s indecisiveness of wanting to please his fan-boy audience or choosing to make a serious and “real” thought provoking film.  No Jay and Silent Bob could have meant a better film, but he just couldn’t do it (despite claims he wanted to have contrasting casting).  Smith returned to “all-funny” in his next film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back in 2001.

Related Links:

Clerks (1994)

Mallrats (1995)

Chasing Amy (1997)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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