Release Date: November 12, 1999
Director: Kevin Smith
Starring: Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Salma Hayek, Jason Lee, Bud Cort, Jason Mewes, Alan Rickman, Chris Rock, George Carlin, Alanis Morissette.
Tag Lines: “Get ‘touched’ by an angel.”
“It Can Be Hell Getting Into Heaven.”
“Faith is a funny thing.”
“A New Comic Fantasy from the Director of ‘Clerks’ and ‘Chasing Amy.'”
“Look out Below.”
Relevance: I wouldn’t say that I was a huge fan of Kevin Smith’s movies. I saw them, thought they were okay, but never sought them out or waited impatiently for the next one to surface. However, I was a huge Alanis Morissette fan, something I addressed on this blog when writing about ‘City of Angels’ (see 210. City of Angels). Her first two albums were huge inspirations to me. I always felt she was living in my closet, observing my life and then writing songs about me. That is how personally connected I feel toward her and her art. When I noticed that she was not only going to be releasing a new song on a soundtrack but have a role in that film, my ears definitely perked up.
‘Dogma’ was released in the fall of 1999 to decent reviews and moderate box office success. It remains the highest grossing film in Kevin Smith’s “View Askewniverse” series. It had a pretty solid cast including Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Salma Hayek, Jason Lee, Alan Rickman, Chris Rock and George Carlin and was a satire on Catholicism. This irreverent treatment of that particular religion caused, of course, outrage within that church resulting in boycotts and protests. Being an ex-Catholic, my ears perked up even more.
Unfortunately I was not able to see the film when it was in theaters as I was living (and working) in a very remote (scary) part of upstate New York. Thus, none of the theaters were showing the film. I was going to have to wait until it was released on home media. I was however able to buy its soundtrack and listen to Alanis Morissette’s song “Still” over and over again. The rest of the soundtrack was Howard Shore’s score and got overlooked by me as only that song got my attention. It’s haunting melody and beautiful lyrics made me fall in love with Ms. Morissette all over again.
I finally saw ‘Dogma’ in the Spring of 2000 when it was released on home media. I am not sure if it was the story, the humor or the fact that Alanis Morissette played God, but I absolutely loved the film. Once again, the outrage from the Catholic Church was completely unnecessary. Do they even see these films they call blasphemous before sending their minions out to protest them? If they had actually seen ‘Dogma’ with an open mind, like Jesus would have, they would have found a very provocative, at times irreverent, but also thought-provoking, respectful film filled with true Christian morals. You just had to look past the gratuitous language, violence and Chris Rock’s naked butt to get there.
As anti-Catholic as I was at the time, I still had (and most likely always will) an affinity towards the stories, whether real or not, that were ingrained in my head for over eighteen years. I am able to remove the cynical portion of my brain and watch and appreciate art regarding religion. So as much as I loved the jabs made at all faiths, I also appreciated the heart that was at the center of the script. ‘Dogma’ remained one of my favorite films that year and one that I recommended to everyone, regardless of their religious views. I purchased the Special Edition DVD when it was released in 2001 and it is a movie I revisit often. Alanis Morissette’s “Still” remains on my iPhone and gets played loudly at least once a week.
Today’s Thoughts: “Leave it to the Catholics to destroy existence.”
‘Dogma’ is unavailable to stream or purchase digitally due to the film’s rights being owned personally by Bob and Harvey Weinstein (Satan himself) in a deal that predated streaming. It is also out of print on home media, so I am very grateful that I own that DVD, or I may not have been able to watch the film today.
Being a fantasy film, there are many aspects of ‘Dogma’ that seem silly or ridiculous. But if you buy into its premise and have an open mind, it is a very entertaining story with a very deep message about faith and humanity. I love it more and more every time that I watch it. The cast is perfect and couldn’t be any better. Of course, Alanis Morissette is my favorite despite her only real line being “Shhh.”
‘Dogma’ is probably a movie that will not show up on many people’s lists of films to see before they die. However, it does make my top 100 most influential films of all time for many reasons. It is fun, weird, spiritual, humorous and entertaining for any heathen or believer out there. Watch the film with an open mind and you might just realize that it is okay to have a sense of humor about God. After all, she has a terrific sense of humor.
Awards: Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay, Kevin Smith (nomination).
Ways to Watch: YouTube, DVD Availability.