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'Dogma' pokes fun at Catholic views

Nov. 19, 1999

By DAVID IRVIN

Entertainment Writer

Kevin Smith did it this time. He managed to make a movie so vulgar, so irreverent, so strange that it will permanently put his name on more than a few black lists.

His newest movie, Dogma, mixes more sex and religion than Madonna, and tends to get quite violent in the segues.

Set within the old battle between good and evil, the movie is about a couple of fallen angels, played by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who are trying to return to heaven through an ancient loophole in Catholic church dogma. They consider the end of total existence a small price to pay for escape from Hell (portrayed as Wisconsin in the movie).

Meanwhile, a Catholic slacker named Bethany, played by Linda Fiorentino, is commissioned to stop the angels and save humanity in the process. The movie shot more than a few arrows at the Catholic church. It repeatedly used language like 'indulgences' and 'belief systems' to put the church in an unfavorable light.

You have to believe the movie is a total farce when George Carlin shows up as Cardinal Glick. Glick is head of the 'Wow' religious movement in New Jersey where his church is located.

He also blesses his golf clubs, and turns a deaf ear to Bethany's apocalyptic prophecy. Carlin as a priest --that's funny.

There is nothing funnier in the movie than Chris Rock showing up naked, lying face down in the road.

Claiming to be the thirteenth apostle, left out of the Good Book because he was a 'brother,' Rock does a good job of raising the vulgarity level.

In all of his buffoonery, he reveals that Jesus was also black, and that God is a woman. The actress who plays God will surprise you.

Strangely, the movie takes a very straight approach to describing God's love for humans.

It also references Jesus as God's son and makes some interesting points about the changing role of religion in today's society.

The movie suffered when it came to acting. Fiorentino's role did not give her much room for creativity. What she did with what she had was not good either.

Much of the other acting was type-role oriented. Matt Damon played the fast-talking street guy still reminiscent of Good Will Hunting, for example.

All in all it isn't a bad movie. I would not look for it on an American Film Institute list anytime soon, or anytime ever, but you will enjoy the movie if you like the crassest nature of humor.