Dogma (1999)
October 6, 2022 9:33 AM - Subscribe

The latest battle in the eternal war between Good and Evil has come to New Jersey in the late, late 20th Century. Angels, demons, apostles and prophets (of a sort) walk among the cynics and innocents of America and duke it out for the fate of humankind.

Two fallen angels who were ejected from paradise find themselves banned in Wisconsin. They are now headed for New Jersey where they find a loophole that can get them back into heaven. The only catch is that it will destroy humanity. A group bands together to stop them.

Written and Directed by Kevin Smith.

Starring Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Chris Rock, Alan Rickman.

67% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently not available on streaming or DVD. Check the local library?
posted by Marky (28 comments total)
It's a shame that this movie is so hard to find.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:24 AM on October 6, 2022 [3 favorites]

It's kind of weird that this movie is so hard to find, as it's apparently the top-grossing movie in the "View Askewniverse." The theology may be a little wobbly (pretty sure that that's not how plenary indulgences work), but otherwise it's pretty tight, and besides it gave the world Buddy Christ, whom I have a little statuette of around somewhere. I am also amused to realize that Matt Damon's fallen angel character is named Loki; Damon has twice now played an Asgardian actor playing Loki in Taika Waititi's Thor movies.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:38 AM on October 6, 2022 [7 favorites]

According to Wikipedia, one of the reasons why this is so hard to find is because of a rights/ownership war between Kevin Smith and Harvey Weinstein:
While promoting Clerks III, Smith reiterated that Weinstein still owned Dogma, and tried to buy the film's rights back once he was assured the money would not go directly to Weinstein, who is currently imprisoned. Despite increasingly larger offers from Smith's camp and a letter sharing how personal Dogma was for him, their offers were denied by Weinstein's lawyer. Smith described the film as a movie that is "held hostage" and shared his wish to both tour the film as a re-release and to produce a sequel if he would get the rights back.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:10 AM on October 6, 2022 [18 favorites]

Definitely the most accessible (and least problematic) of the View Askew flicks. I think I got my dad to watch it with me once! What a bummer that it's not available right now, I'd love to watch it again.
posted by radioamy at 11:22 AM on October 6, 2022

This played in the movie theater I worked at as a teenager. I tried to time my cleanup rotation so that I could listen to all of the Alanis Morissette song that played over the closing credits (Still), which I still love. I bought the soundtrack for it, and I have no earthly idea what the rest of the tracks are.

I really liked the movie the first time I saw it, and it didn't hold up as well for me when I saw it again a few years later, but I'd give it another shot if it was handy. It was really trying to say something, and if it didn't quite get there consistently, I respect the effort. (Also, it's got Alan Rickman, who is always a great deal of fun.)
posted by restless_nomad at 11:40 AM on October 6, 2022 [3 favorites]

As a 15 year old who was really trying to figure shit out at this time, and frustrated by how little anyone around me wanted to engage with any of the shit I was being asked to profess that I believed, this movie was a revelation to me (heh heh). It really opened my mind. It held up okay when I watched it again recently, but I can't fault it for being a product of its time, it's a very good product. One of the best things Kevin Smith ever did. Hopefully Weinstein dies soon.
posted by bleep at 12:14 PM on October 6, 2022 [7 favorites]

Oh and shoutout to George Carlin's extremely excellent crooked bishop. It's almost quaint to think anyone would try to talk about Jesus more at this point.
posted by bleep at 12:24 PM on October 6, 2022 [6 favorites]

One of my first dates with my now-wife was coming over the her place to watch this because she had the DVD. That would have been in early 2016. I was shocked by how well it held up (I was expecting "not at all.") It's an absolute shaggy dog story but it's enjoyable for that.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:15 PM on October 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

I thought that, among many other things, the movie was a sincere look at faith. I've always remembered Serendipity's line (played by Salma Hayek): "You people don't celebrate your faith; you mourn it."
posted by kirkaracha at 2:34 PM on October 6, 2022 [5 favorites]

It's almost quaint to think anyone would try to talk about Jesus more at this point.

You said it, man. Nobody fucks with the Jesus.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:35 PM on October 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

Wow, I hate this movie, ha ha. This was the beginning of my disenchantment with the films of Kevin Smith, which to this point I felt were kind of amiable good times. There's just so much about it I don't like. For one thing, Smith for the first time had money, and somehow still wound up with a movie that looked like it cost two fucking dollars. For another, I was blown away by how shallow and moronic the treatment of Christianity was. I don't know, maybe you can't make Meatballs and Wings of Desire at the same time.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:26 PM on October 6, 2022 [6 favorites]

“Shit, no! Me and Silent Bob are pro-choice. A woman’s body is her own fucking business.”

This is the movie the world needs right now.
posted by wabbittwax at 5:11 PM on October 6, 2022 [11 favorites]

When Kevin Smith first wrote this, I'm pretty sure he wanted Robert Rodriguez to direct it. I actually read the screenplay before I saw the film and I think it's a solid script. And I really wish Rodriguez or any other director had directed it - because Smith has some great ideas here but isn't a good enough director to realise them. This absolutely was the film where I knew I didn't need any more Kevin Smith movies in my life, even though I still think the script is great and the film is a kind of bonkers that I love.
posted by crossoverman at 5:50 PM on October 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

I think this was the best Kevin Smith movie (for what that's worth), this was his apex. I'm sad to see that he went downhill after that--after he discovered the joys of weed, his taste/plots/etc. went waaaaaaaaaay down the (shit monster) crapper. It's kinda like Fifty First Dates: overall it's good and the plot works, but then there's random doofy shit like the shit monster, which I tend to ignore when I think about it. Like yeah, if someone else had directed it could have been better, but I enjoyed that it was a stretch for him, and I'm disappointed he never did anything more complicated than this and then just did porn and Tusk and Cop Out and Yoga Hosers and BLECH.

I was reminded of Kevin's difficulties with Linda when I was reading about her in the Alan Rickman diaries.

I do appreciate that Kevin Smith, a guy who owned his career to Harvey Weinstein, didn't support Weinstein's shitty behavior--and now he's paying the price for it with this movie. Then again, maybe given how Kevin's moviemaking is going, maybe it's all for the best he can't make Dogma 2: The Shit Monster Stars or whatever.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:58 PM on October 6, 2022

Somebody mentioned Dogma to me a few years ago so I set out to rewatch it. Turned out I was remembering some other film I still can't identify. Luckily, I enjoyed Dogma, though I didn't think it was great or anything. It was more like a collection of interesting and fun moments than a whole movie. It seemed more like a sketch comedy show, just with a little more to tie the sketches together than is typical.
posted by wierdo at 6:47 PM on October 6, 2022 [3 favorites]

I just keep remembering the commentary where Kevin Smith complained about how "difficult" Linda Fiorentino was, and this was just before her career went from rising star (she was very, very clearly set up to co-star in Men in Black 2 with Will Smith after the first one made ridiculous bank!) to absolutely nothing about a year later. I am... suspicious.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:42 PM on October 6, 2022 [7 favorites]

It's easy to find on Youtube, as is the Director Commentary.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 8:45 PM on October 6, 2022

but I enjoyed that it was a stretch for him, and I'm disappointed he never did anything more complicated than this

I think that he has it in him to make really good movies but he seems to lack the desire (or the confidence) to go too far out of his wheelhouse.
Maybe if he hadn't hit it out of the park on his first movie, he'd be more willing to stretch for something.
posted by madajb at 9:04 PM on October 6, 2022

I haven't seen this movie in a long time.

Honestly, I don't even remember the plot, just flashes.

George Carlin being George Carlin, Rickman as a put-upon angel.
"No ticket".

I guess that says a lot about how much I liked it.

I do remember the story he tells about the protests when it debuted and going out to protest his own movie.
posted by madajb at 9:10 PM on October 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

I remember the incredible instantaneous blessing Morissette as God changes someone with, transforming their affect and leaving them tearful with gratitude instantly. So otherworldly and one of the cinematic expressions of "this is what is appealing about the idea of religion" that sticks with me, along with the bedside story about heaven in "The Invention of Lying".
posted by brainwane at 2:06 AM on October 7, 2022

And I really wish Rodriguez or any other director had directed it - because Smith has some great ideas here but isn't a good enough director to realise them.

That’s a pretty fair assessment of Smith, I think. Like most of his movies, Dogma has a lot of really good/funny set-pieces that stand out, kind of like the one or two amazingly-drawn panels in an otherwise merely-passable comic book. But, he doesn’t seem to be able to string it all together very well. I wouldn’t say he has a “director’s eye” either, when it comes to staging, movement, etc. His level of direction works really well for something like Clerks, but isn’t up to the challenge of something like Dogma.

Having been raised catholic, I have a soft spot for Dogma. The cast is great and they all do their best with what they’ve been given. I think it’s a bit too long, and the ending is a big mess. I kind of wish it wasn’t a Jay & Silent Bob movie, but I also can’t quite imagine it working without them.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:38 AM on October 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

Thorazad, I was just about to say that I had the feeling that growing up Catholic made this funny on a slightly different level for me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:50 AM on October 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

I'll third that statement, which is why the line "you don't celebrate your faith, you mourn" resonated with me.
posted by Gelatin at 5:07 AM on October 7, 2022 [6 favorites]

Once in a while I think about… I think it was Patrick H. Willems who described Smith’s directorial style as “pointing the camera at the actors and making sure they’re all in the frame”
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:15 AM on October 7, 2022 [9 favorites]

to absolutely nothing about a year later. I am... suspicious.

Rumours are something something Harvey Weinstein.
posted by porpoise at 10:24 AM on October 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

Not discounting the Weinstein effect or the impacts of radioactive background sexism in the industry - I know two people who worked on a set with her who've swore they'd never work on a project with her again.

And I've always felt that Kevin Smith is a much better writer/storyteller than a film director. (I rabidly followed his material up until Jersey Girl)
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:25 AM on October 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Just missed adding to my comment - I realize I can't speak to whether or not her attitude/behavior that my friends reported was just her native way or being or responding to sexism/Weinsteinism.
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:32 AM on October 7, 2022

I haven't seen this since I saw it in the theater and do wonder if it's held up at all. I think about it fairly often just because I end up driving past that church which is still sitting vacant all these years later. I also used to have classes in the Software Engineering conference room that he filmed the Mooby boardroom/massacre in.
posted by octothorpe at 6:37 PM on October 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

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