Look Ma, no doG!

It’s long been a tenet of the SubGenius faith that we think Jesus is a swell guy – it’s his fan club we’ve got a problem with. They’ve been misquoting and sinning in His name for 2000 years (more or less), and that should be righteously ticking off those that really believe in Him. Instead, they’re mad as hornets, all stirred up and condemning a wave of anti-catholic films released this year, the latest of which is Kevin Smith’s latest Dogma.

Guess I’m not the one to see their point, since I’ve been infected by the demon Logic. Smith’s portrays the church as a bit misguided, whereas Stigmata showed it to be dangerously corrupt. Smith’s sin is that Dogma isn’t a shlocky horror film – it’s a damn funny comedy. And the church doesn’t have much of a sense of humor, especially about itself.

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon play a pair of banished angels looking to get back to Heaven via a loophole in Catholic dogma when a kooky cardinal (George Carlin) plans to re-open a renovated landmark New Jersey cathedral with a special offer of free absolution for whoever enters. Bethany (Linda Fiorentino) is a disenchanted abortion clinic worker in McHenry, Illinois, who is recruited by Deity spokesman Metatron (Alan Rickman) to stop the angels from succeeding, else they bring about untold calamity. Meanwhile, God is missing.

As the quest continues cross-country – roughly modeled on Lord of the Rings – the rest of the terrific cast assembles and takes on various hurdles in their bid to get to the church on time. Salma Hayek, as the stripping Muse Serendipity, offers helpful counsel and fabulous window dressing. Jason Lee, as Azrael the Fallen Angel, manipulates all in a bid to escape Hell forever. Jason Mewes and Smith reprise their recurring roles as Jay and Silent Bob, and… uh, do what they do. Janeane Garofalo hammers home the indie cred. Chris Rock drops in (literally) as Rufus, the forgotten 13th apostle.

Laughs, wonders, and even shocks abound as Smith makes his points and never forgets to punctuate with a punchline. See – a sacred cow that combines Disney and McDonald’s! See – Mr. Stay-puft reincarnated as the Demon from beyond the toilet! See – fun poked at Affleck and Damon’s relationship! See – a God that’s not only a woman, she’s Canadian!

Smith – the only filmmaker that gives full credit to comic-books as his influence – knows how to tell an entertaining story, and this one is an instant classic. Sharp-eyed viewers will spot some continuity gaffs, and others may wonder whether the ending really made sense, but everyone who sees this should have a really great time. Unless, of course, you are totally outraged and offended, in which case I apologize for this review.

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