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Director Kevin Smith relies heavily on his belief that God has a sense of humor to justify the film's blatant disrespect and blasphemy. The platypus is proffered as proof. That's the kind of leap in logic that fills over two hours of screen time. Two angels (Loki and Bartleby) have been banished from heaven and forced to live in Wisconsin. Desperate to return home, the pair discovers a "loophole" in Catholic dogma which allows them to receive forgiveness by walking through an archway in a New Jersey cathedral. They must first become human (a feat accomplished by hacking off their wings), then be killed to go to heaven. Meanwhile, another angel, Metatron (known as "the voice of God"), appears to Bethany (the great, great, great, great ... niece of Jesus) and instructs her to stop the two angels from carrying out their plan. He tells her that, if the angels succeed in exploiting the loophole, all existence will be terminated.
Spiritual Content: Everything has spiritual overtones in Dogma. All of it is rooted in biblical truth, then twisted beyond recognition. Hollywood has never done well in its representation of angels and Dogma inherits the award from Michael for "most perverse." These angels drink, smoke, curse, kill and fantasize about sex (they are incapable of having sex as they have no genitals, a "limitation" shown in detail). A "13th apostle" named Rufus falls from the sky complaining that he was edited from the Bible because he was black. He also insists that Jesus was black as well, and campaigns for the Bible to be rewritten to reflect that. When asked if he knew Jesus, Rufus responds, "Know him, that n----r owes me 12 bucks." The "loophole theology" uses Matthew 16:19 (where Jesus states that whatever is bound on earth must be bound in heaven) to try to prove that humans can exercise mastery over God if they just "beat the system." God turns out to be a woman, but even the angels consistently refer to God as a "He" in their conversations. Oddly enough, despite all the bizarre twists and turns, the film never doubts the existence of God, Jesus, angels, demons, heaven or hell. It does however, trivialize Scripture, dabble in the "many ways to God" theology and mock God (He is referred to as being a "b--ch," called "lonely and funny," and gets kidnapped and beaten up by three demon-boys).
Sexual Content: A "prophet" talks incessantly about having sex with Bethany, using the most vulgar terms available. At one point, when it seems obvious that the world is going to end, he takes off his pants in preparation for the act, but Bethany rebuffs him. An angel drops his pants to show Bethany that he is not designed to be "anatomically correct." His crotch is covered with a skin-tone shell that looks like a Ken-doll. An "angelic muse" works as a stripper (she is shown doing her routine clad in lingerie). Repeated discussions of unconventional sex are heavy-handed and vulgar. Rufus falls from the sky naked (prolonged full rear nudity is shown).
Violent Content: As Bartleby and Loki travel to New Jersey, they go on a killing spree, hoping to "gain God's favor" by bringing justice to the wicked. Loki shoots an adulterer in the head. They kill a board room full of executives for being "idolaters" and massacre everyone who attends a Catholic ceremony, including the Cardinal (his body is dropped from the sky by the flying Bartleby). "Demon-boys" race around on rollerblades using hockey sticks to kill people. A demon machine-guns a bartender. Bethany is mortally wounded when she "rescues" God. An angel is stabbed in the chest. Another's head explodes.
Crude or Profane Language: Nearly 100 f-words and 50 s-words pollute the dialogue. God's name is vulgarized and abused repeatedly, angels and prophets being the worst offenders.
Drug and Alcohol Content: Angels drink and smoke constantly. God changes the rules and forbids the angels to get drunk, so they sip alcohol, then spit it out again.
Other Negative Elements: Bethany works at an abortion clinic. "Choice" is lauded while pro-life picketers are disdained. A demon called the "s--- demon" flows out of a toilet, congeals into monster form and terrorizes the angels.
Summary: If Kevin Smith hopes to provoke religious discussion by creating a film that lambastes the Catholic Church specifically and organized religion in general, he's sadly misguided. His use of vulgarity, violence and blasphemy is inexcusable. Families don't need the kind of "discussions" likely to be prompted by Dogma.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Ben Affleck as Bartleby; Matt Damon as Loki; Linda Fiorentino as Bethany; George Carlin as Cardinal Glick; Salma Hayek as Serendipity; Alan Rickman as Metatron; Chris Rock as Rufus; Jason Mewes as Jay; Alanis Morissette as God