What a Friend He Has in Jesus

Kevin Smith's Dogma is a buddy movie by the Book

In that self-deprecating spirit, Dogma opens with a printed disclaimer that the film is "not to be taken seriously," and that "passing judgment is reserved for God and God alone (this goes for you film critics too...just kidding)." Be that as it may, this critic has got to hand it to Smith for converting a nonbeliever to his faith: Dogma is bold, smartly written, well-staged, and thoroughly entertaining--the auteur's holy cross between Last Temptation, his beloved Star Wars, and his own much-maligned Mallrats. To borrow a bit from the movie's vernacular, Dogma is up to its ass in Christian mythology, and yet Smith cleverly weaves his own revisionist material into the mix, allowing him to dis, among other things, the Good Book's blatant sexism (perhaps the kind of feminism that guys adopt in order to get laid?). Likewise, aside from one regrettable wet T-shirt scene, Fiorentino has the richest female role in any Amerindie this year--which for Smith represents a huge advance over the miraculously cured lesbian of Chasing Amy. And while the director humbly confessed at Cannes that, "visually, I don't think I have much going on," his latest palette often pops, particularly in the film's climactic action blowout involving splattered mortals and bloody angels' wings.

In the end, Dogma does find God, and she happens to be in the auteur's own image--or at least in the near-speechless tradition of his alter ego Silent Bob. But has Smith the practicing Catholic found peace? "I was telling my priest," he recalled, 'You know, I'm not sure where I am with this stuff anymore. I used to believe so much when I was a kid, and now it's so much more difficult.' And he said, 'Well, when you're a kid, you're kind of like a shot glass.' He was breaking it down in drinking terms for me. 'It's easy to fill a shot glass, but the older you get, the bigger the glass gets, and so the same amount of liquid that fills a shot glass can't fill a tumbler. So it's your job to fill it up. We [of the cloth] can only go so far; you have to bring something to the table.' So I did: I went out there and figured some things out for myself, and sort of came up with my own version of Catholicism: Catholicism plus Kev."

Here ends the reading.

 

Dogma starts Friday at area theaters.

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