Rated: R
Runtime: 2 Hours and 8 Minutes

Reviewer: Erik
Grade: B

Kevin Smith's "Dogma" achieves something that few movies can do: Take a very serious topic, build a comedy around it and still give you something to think good and hard about as you leave the theater. And to think this movie had a lot of controversy around it. Shame on us.

This movie, described as a fantasy in a hilariously-funny disclaimer, tells the tale of Loki and Bartleby, two angels who have been banished from heaven for killing sprees in the name of God. They find out about a church's 100-year celebration in Red Bank, NJ, where anybody who passes through their doors will have "their slate wiped clean", meaning the angels can now return to heaven. This would obviously prove God infallible, and they must be stopped. God has been declared "missing" and can do nothing to prevent this.

Metatron, the voice of God, recruits abortion clinic worker Bethany to stop them. Bethany's lost her faith and wants nothing to do with this until two "prophets" save her one night. Bethany tags along with them as they make their way back to New Jersey. Along the way, they'll pick up Rufus, the 13th apostle, and Serendipity, a muse who's now a stripper on earth.

There's also a shadowy figure named Azrael, who has his own plans, mostly involving three hockey-playing demons and a giant monster made of feces.

The movie has a good message, and doesn't slap the viewer silly with it. Serendipity and Rufus provide most of the good vibes. Rufus, specifically, makes a good point about religion: "People should have ideas, not beliefs. It's harder to change a belief." The movie has moments of uplifting spirituality, despite the abundance of four-letter words and "dick and fart" jokes.

"Dogma" is funny as well. Jay and Silent Bob provide lots of good laughs. The religious debating of Loki and Bartleby are quite whimsical as well. If I had to pick a flaw, I would probably say it's how Silent Bob disposes of the Golgothan. Even for a fantasy, it was a tad too goofy for me.

"Dogma" is, however, recommended. It should be a hit with Kevin Smith fans, and surprisingly, it should be a hit with anybody who has a strong sense of religion or spirituality. The movie is not the blasphemous mess people have erroneously labeled it.

It's funny and it makes you think. Not too many movies can accomplish both.

Reviewer: Dale
Grade: B+

"Dogma" is one of those rare comedies that actually has something to say. Many people bashed it for being blasphemous. Once again, those were criticisms levelled at a movie by people who will probably never even bother to see it for themselves. You have to see a movie before you can affectively criticize it. That is the catch. If you want blasphemy, rent "Life of Brian". If you want a thoughtful, loving exploration of what it means to have faith, rent "Dogma".

"Dogma" starts very well. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are two angels who have been kicked out of Heaven. Now, after many years of exile to Wisconsin, they have found the way out of their predicament. Unfortunately, it involves going to New Jersey. Oh, and destroying the world. There's that. So the voice of God (a delightful Alan Rickman) instructs a woman working in an abortion clinic to stop them. She gets two prophets to aid her in her quest (Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes) and also a little help from the thirteenth apostle (a very black, very angry Chris Rock).

The story is very good for a while. Affleck and Damon are wonderful together. They make a great team, and they are great verbal sparring partners. Toward the end, when things start to get serious, the only reason that the movie does not begin to totally suck is because the two of them have invested so much in their characters. They are a remarkable team, and there should be a law that they cannot make a movie apart from each other. Together, they are good. Apart, well, things can go either way. Especially for Affleck.

Another bit of glue holding the movie together is a strong, unifying performance by Linda Fiorentino. She is quite good here, dealing with absurd situations the way any of us would: in total disbelief and confusion. But she does it well. Alan Rickman and Jason Lee (as a demon who loves air conditioning) are also wonderful to behold. They bring a spritely amount of joy to the proceedings and also help illustrate some great points about belief and faith and the whole ball of wax.

Unfortunately, Jay and Silent Bob are also in this movie. They are hilarious to begin with, but after time their prescence begins to grate. The fart jokes get a little old and by the end you wish they would stop altogether. The movie also gets a bit sermony at times, and the ending leaves a little something to be desired. But I can't get too far down on the film. I loved it for quite a while when I was watching it, and on the whole it respected my intelligence and made some very interesting points. It also has a wonderful, ludicrous premise (by now you may have guessed that I am a sucker for an oddball comic premise).

And if it falls apart toward the end, well, as this movie says so eloquently, nobody is perfect.