Reviewed by: Brad D. Francis
2 hr. 10 min.
Starring: Linda Fiorentino, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Alan Rickman, Chris Rock, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, George Carlin, Salma Hayek, Jason Lee, Bud Cort, Alanis Morissette | Director: Kevin Smith | Writer: Kevin Smith | Distributor: Lions Gate Films
First of all, I’ve gotta come right off the bat and say that I found the film “Dogma” to be entirely intriguing. The Catholic Church has, of course, come across with outrage at the portrayal of Catholics in the movie, and I saw a piece on NBC’s “Today” where they expressed outrage at the movie’s statement that Jesus had brothers and sisters, that Mary didn’t remain a virgin. Okay, that’s biblical—something which I actually found a surprisingly large amount of the movie to be.
The premise of the movie involves two angels, played by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Damon’s character used to be the angel of death but his friend convinced him to quit, thus going against God. Their punishment? Banishment to Wisconsin. They take human form, although still have many angelic qualities, such as retractable wings. All they want is to get back to heaven, and they think they’ve found a loophole to permit it… and that’s the movie. If they succeeded in such an endeavor, it would prove God wrong, which would prove reality to be non-reality… and everything ceases to exist! So a group of misfits works to prevent this from happening, including two misguided “prophets,” the thirteenth apostle (Chris Rock), a human innocent and others.
When a movie starts with a disclaimer that basically says, “Lighten up, God has a sense of humor,” you know you’re in for a ride. And many Christians would take offense to the very strong language (heavy use of the “F” word and about every other word you can probably think of) in “Dogma”. Although sex is referred to many times, and one character is clearly obsessed with it, it’s hardly a focus of the movie which goes much deeper into theology. Also, there is quite a bit of gore and violence in the movie. This is definitely not for kids.
You can’t expect Hollywood to make an entirely theologically accurate movie, can you? Well, this is first of all a non-Hollywood production, but we’ll suffice to throw it in with Hollywood and say no—it is not biblically accurate. But I think that the theological inaccuracies it presents are greatly outweighed by the very good questions they’re asking. Some of it goes back to the whole “Why do bad things happen to good people?” question. But many of the ideas presented in this movie, particularly by Chris Rock’s character, are things that Christians could really do well to think about. I think the best thing about “Dogma” (except for the fact that it is quite funny), is its theology—more intriguing than offensive.
Bottom line: If you are strong in your faith and don’t have a real problem with the profanity, crude references and violence, the content of this movie is worth seeing. However, most Christians should probably stay away for those reasons. But if you do see it, let it question your faith and make you think. You may find yourself coming away stronger for it.Related Questions from ChristianAnswers.Net:
Year of Release—1999