Dogma (film)

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This article is about the 1999 film. For the avant-garde filmmaking movement, see Dogma 95.
Dogma
Dogma (movie).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Kevin Smith
Produced by Scott Mosier
Written by Kevin Smith
Starring Ben Affleck
George Carlin
Matt Damon
Linda Fiorentino
Salma Hayek
Jason Lee
Jason Mewes
Kevin Smith
Alan Rickman
Chris Rock
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Robert Yeoman
Edited by Scott Mosier
Kevin Smith
Production
  company
View Askew Productions
Distributed by Lionsgate Films (US)
FilmFour (UK)
Release date(s)
  • November 12, 1999 (1999-11-12)
Running time 128 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million[1]
Box office $30,652,890[1]

Dogma is a 1999 American comedy film written and directed by Kevin Smith, who also stars in the film along with an ensemble cast that includes Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Alan Rickman, Bud Cort, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock, Jason Lee, George Carlin, Janeane Garofalo, Alanis Morissette, and Jason Mewes.

Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson, the stars of Smith's debut film Clerks, have cameo roles, as do Smith regulars Scott Mosier, Dwight Ewell, Walt Flanagan, and Bryan Johnson.

The fourth film set in the View Askewniverse is a hypothetical-scenario film revolving around the Catholic Church and Catholic belief, which caused organized protests and much controversy in many countries, delaying release of the film and leading to at least two death threats against Smith.[2][3] The film follows two fallen angels, Loki and Bartleby, who, through an alleged loophole in Catholic dogma, find a way to get back into Heaven after being cast out by God. However, as existence is founded on the principle that God is infallible, their success would prove God wrong and thus undo all creation. The last scion and two prophets are sent by the Voice of God to stop them.

Aside from some scenes filmed on the New Jersey shore, most of the film was shot in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Plot[edit]

An old homeless man (Cort) is standing outside a skee ball arcade in New Jersey and is beaten into a coma by three hockey stick-wielding teenagers, the Stygian Triplets.

Two fallen angels, Bartleby (Affleck) and Loki (Damon), were banished from Heaven after an inebriated Loki, with Bartleby's encouragement, resigned as the Angel of Death. Exiled to Wisconsin, the pair see their salvation when a church in Red Bank, New Jersey celebrates its centennial anniversary with a plenary indulgence. They can have their sins forgiven by passing through the doors of that church, and—upon death—regain access to Heaven.[4] They fail to realize that this will overrule the word of God and destroy existence.

Metatron, aka the Voice of God

Bethany Sloane (Fiorentino), an abortion clinic worker, attends a sermon in which donations are collected for the hospital bills of the homeless man seen earlier, who was beaten into a coma and is now on life support; with no documentation or living relatives, he is known only as John Doe Jersey. Later that day, Metatron (Rickman), the Voice of God, appears to her and tasks her with preventing Bartleby and Loki's return. Bethany resists the mission, as she lost her faith in God due to her infertility, for which her husband divorced her. Bethany is attacked by the Stygian Triplets, but is saved by Jay and Silent Bob (Mewes and Smith), two prophets whom Metatron said would appear. She is also aided by Rufus (Rock), the thirteenth apostle who was left out of the Bible for being black, and Serendipity (Hayek), a Muse with writer's block.

The demon Azrael (Lee), a former Muse, warns Bartleby and Loki that the forces of Heaven and Hell are attempting to kill them, as Satan will not let them succeed where he has failed. Bethany's party unwittingly meet the angels on a train, where a drunk Bethany reveals her mission to Bartleby. Bartleby threatens to kill Bethany before a melee ensues, in which Silent Bob throws Bartleby and Loki off the train.

Once Bartleby and Loki realize that their plan will destroy all existence, they are divided: Loki wants to back out, while Bartleby is intent on striking back at God for giving humans free will while demanding servitude from angels. Horrified, Loki tells Bartleby that he sounds like Lucifer and refuses to help him any further, but Bartleby strong-arms him into going forward with their plan.

Bethany learns she was chosen for the mission because she is the last relative of Jesus Christ. The group ponders who orchestrated the angels' plan, and Metatron explains that God goes to Earth in human form every now and again to play skee ball, and has gone missing; someone knew enough to incapacitate God but leave Him alive in a mortal form, and thus unable to return to Heaven. The group deduces that Lucifer has as much to lose if Bartleby and Loki succeed as anyone else. Arriving at the church, they fail to persuade Cardinal Glick (Carlin) to cancel the celebration. As revenge, Jay steals Glick's golf club.

When Bartleby and Loki reach the church, Bartleby kills everyone attending the celebration. At a nearby bar, Azrael captures the heroes and explains that he is the mastermind behind the angels' plan; he wants to destroy existence rather than spend eternity in Hell, but he needed to manipulate Bartleby and Loki, as demons cannot become human. Silent Bob kills Azrael with Glick's blessed golf club. Serendipity tells Bethany to bless the sink, making the water in the sink holy; Jay, Rufus and Serendipity kill the Stygian Triplets by dunking their heads into the water.

The heroes reach the church before Bartleby and Loki enter. Loki's wings have been torn off by Bartleby; he is now human and decides to help them. Bartleby kills Loki and fights off Rufus, Serendipity and Bob. During an attempt to seduce Bethany, Jay mentions John Doe Jersey; hoping this is God, Bethany and Bob race to the hospital. Jay shoots off Bartleby's wings with a submachine gun, turning him human.

Bethany removes John Doe Jersey's life support, allowing God to escape while inadvertently killing herself. In the form of a woman, God (Morissette) manifests at the church before a remorseful Bartleby, and kills him with the power of Her voice. Silent Bob shows up with Bethany's corpse. God resurrects Bethany and conceives a child inside her. God, Rufus, Metatron, and Serendipity return to Heaven, leaving Bethany, Jay and Bob to reflect on what has happened.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

The film was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay as well as a Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America honor for Best Screenplay.[citation needed]

The film opened at #3 in its opening weekend with approximately $8,669,945, behind The Bone Collector (the previous week's champion) and the newly released Pokémon: The First Movie.[5] The film would eventually gross a domestic total of $30,652,890 from a modest $10 million budget.[1]

Critics were mostly positive about the film; it has a 67% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus "Provocative and audacious, Dogma entertains without overtly offending"; it fared much better with fans, ranking 84% by the community.[6] On Metacritic, the film received a rating of 62 percent based on 36 reviews, with an 7.7/10 by fans based on 35 votes.[7]

The film was screened out of competition at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.[8]

Production[edit]

The fictional "Mooby's" restaurant, as depicted in the film.

Before shooting, Kevin Smith warned Jason Mewes that he needed to be on point due to the involvement of "real actors," such as Alan Rickman. As a result, Mewes memorized not only his dialogue, but the dialogue for every character in the entire screenplay, much to Smith's surprise. Mewes stated that his primary motivation for doing this was because he "didn't want to piss off that Rickman dude." [9]

According to Smith's comments on the Dogma publicity stills on the film's official website, there was going to be a final face-off between Silent Bob on one side and the redhead Triplet and the Golgothan on the other side in the hospital. The Triplet would come back with a burned-out face, and at the end of the battle, God would turn the Golgothan into flowers. The scene was dropped from the final cut of the film.[10]

Soundtrack[edit]

Sequel[edit]

In late November 2005, Smith was asked about a possible Dogma sequel on the ViewAskew.com message boards. His response:

So weird you should ask this, because ever since 9/11, I have been thinking about a sequel of sorts. I mean, the worst terrorist attack on American soil was religiously bent. In the wake of said attack, the leader of the "Free World" outed himself as pretty damned Christian. In the last election, rather than a quagmire war abroad, the big issue was whether or not gay marriage was moral. Back when I made 'Dogma', I always maintained that another movie about religion wouldn't be forthcoming, as 'Dogma' was the product of 28 years of religious and spiritual meditation, and I'd kinda shot my wad on the subject. Now? I think I might have more to say. And, yes — the Last Scion would be at the epicenter of it. And She'd have to be played by Alanis. And we'd need a bigger budget — because the entire third act would be the Apocalypse. Scary thing is this: the film would have to touch on Islam. And unlike the Catholic League, when those cats don't like what you do, they issue a death warrant on yer ass. And now that I've got a family, I'm not as free to stir the shit-pot as I was when I was single, back when I made 'Dogma'. I mean, now I've gotta think about more than my own safety and well-being. But regardless — yeah, a 'Dogma' followup's been swimming around in my head for some time now."[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Dogma at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Kimberley Jones (August 10, 2001). "Mr. Smith Goes to Austin". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  3. ^ Andy Seiler (October 24, 2001). "Kevin Smith is seldom Silent". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  4. ^ Note that in real Catholic theology, plenary indulgence doesn't mean forgiveness of sins. Moreover, Bartleby and Loki would not be in an appropriate condition to lawfully receive one. See Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 4, subarticle X "Catechism article on Indulgences". Catechism of the Catholic Church. Retrieved 2013-07-30. 
  5. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for November 12-14, 1999". Amazon.com. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-10-18. 
  6. ^ Dogma at Rotten Tomatoes
  7. ^ Dogma at Metacritic
  8. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Dogma". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  9. ^ "My Boring-Ass Life". March 29, 2006. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  10. ^ "Dogma - Through the eyes of the director - The Scenes That Never Were". Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  11. ^ Kevin Smith (November 27, 2005). "The View Askewniverse Message Board". Retrieved 2009-06-18. 

External links[edit]