You can laugh at religion and theology, as we happily discovered while watching Dogma, a 1999 movie directed by the hilarious Kevin Smith.
Kicking off the chain of comic/catastrophic events are two former angels, Loki and Bartleby, seeking to return to Heaven after centuries of exile by exploiting a flaw in Catholic dogma.
They are angry at God, considering him ungrateful and too lenient toward humanity, as they judge it to be corrupt beyond salvation.
However, in their vengeful fury, they ignore the last descendant of Jesus, Bethany, a most lonely and sad girl, even though she is initially unaware of her divine role.
A sudden visit from the angel Metatron changes everything, instructing the astonished girl to stop the fallen rebels and join a pair of supposed prophets, Jay and Silent Bob.
Those two are just dumb kids obsessed with drugs and sex, oblivious to anything that doesn’t involve their basic instincts.
Fortunately, Rufus, a black apostle officially cast out of the gospel for racism, arrives and joins the group by falling from the sky and instructs young Bethany, as his dear friend Jesus once was, how to be a leader.
But not everyone they meet is a friend, such as the evil Azrael, also punished by God for refusing to participate in the holy war and later mutated into a demon with evil sidekicks in his corner.
Azrael was once a muse to inspire humans, just like the beautiful Serendipity, who instead help them reveal that if the angels could return to Heaven, they would contradict God’s will, causing existence to be nullified.
With no other choice left for anyone, all these characters are destined to clash in a demented final duel before a God who, instead, seems to have disappeared into thin air.
Divine myth brought back to human scale
Dogma is an irreverent road comedy that was briefly a cult movie in 1999, although today, I don’t know how many of the younger generation know it.
Kevin Smith writes and directs an absurd metaphor about human nature versus divine kind, rich in gags and charming characters derived from myths and sacred scriptures.
The director also appears with trusted Jason Mewes, forming the usual Jay and Bob pair who, dumb and innocent, understand nothing of what goes on from beginning to end.
Obviously, given the story’s subject matter, we could not avoid the usual criticism from some overly sensitive religious people; However, I am a secular guy, but I did not see any particular offense to the core of the Christian message for peace and harmony.
There is certainly no shortage of hot material, such as the protagonist working in an abortion clinic or the mentioned black apostle raising controversy among those wishing to avoid the racism topic at all costs.
However, none of these plots or characters aim to give a moral lesson to anyone; each one harmoniously joins the main plot with its slice of unfettered comedy.
Even the most over-the-top monsters, such as the stinking Golgothian, a walking pile of human excrement, despite its repulsive appearance, are not at all vulgar but, on the contrary, offer a funny mythological background about it.
Kevin Smith combines sacred and profane with great simplicity and immediacy, forging an adorable blasphemy of almost two hours, giving us his unfiltered opinion about what he thinks about every religion, not only Christianity.
As far as I am concerned, it is this director’s best movie, even better than the famous Clerks, because it dares to go against a wall that we know is quite hard to break.
Divine actors and actresses
Besides the movie’s formidable direction and script, Dogma charm lies in a group of talented and daring young actors who shine among the rising stars of 1999 like a supernova of acting prowess.
In contrast, Linda Fiorentino represents the unwitting weapon of divine justice, a lonely, disgruntled woman who, only by her harmless (more or less) presence, will restore harmony between the dark and light forces.
As mentioned, Jason Mewes and director Kevin Smith play these two unlikable sidekicks who are brash, obtuse, and funny, an unparalleled duo of merry traveling friends who simultaneously irritate and support the group.
Chris Rock is equally frank and relentless as the black apostle descends straight from heaven, crashing violently face-first into the ground.
With his attitude and wise counsel, the comic actor can elicit hilarity in even the most unthinkable situations, paving the way like a modern-day comic Virgil.
We mention the late Alan Rickman, a famous antagonist in the 1980s movies, here as the angel Metatron, with a touch of irony worthy of a rehabilitated villain.
Finally, although she appears for only a few minutes, we mention the charming singer Alanis Morissette who plays none other than God, without uttering a word but with great self-deprecation and charisma.
These are just a few characters in a story with dozens of situations you will remember, each a memorable moment as only in the best movies remain imprinted. You will joke about it many months after seeing it.
If you have already seen it, watch it again because you will surely have missed something, just as I always discover something new every time I see it again.