Monday, March 25, 2013

A Week of Kevin Smith, Part Three - "Dogma"



Day three should obviously have some controversy. Not real controversy, but some, as many will disagree with the placement of this movie. But I have my reasons, which I will discuss.

Dogma is one of Smith's more popular films. I know a lot of people who put this as his best. Many of my friends do. And I get it. I have a lot of friends who are in the anti-theist side of things. Of course, I think they miss the point of the movie in that case.

Others like the general riffing on Catholicism, though they understand that it is actually a pretty devout movie if you really take a look at the film. It's just that it's devout in a non-denominational sense.

But whatever makes you enjoy this movie, it doesn't matter. If you love it, that should be enough for you. It's not that your interpretation is wrong. Interpretations don't have to be wrong, no matter how odd, as long as you can find reasons. So, I get why you love this movie. Seriously.

I'm an atheist, but it's not my atheism that knocks this movie down. People might find that hard to believe, but I can enjoy religion in movies. I'm not one of those prickish atheists who has this need to constantly belittle people's beliefs. Yeah, I don't agree, but as long as you're not using your beliefs to hurt myself or my own, than I don't care what you think.

So, what is it about this movie that makes it not one of my favorite Smith films? Well, let me set things straight by saying I actually like this film quite a bit. You're entering the zone where I really just love Smith films, no matter what.

"But, Brit! You haven't talked about Mallrats or Zack and Miri, yet! Are you saying that you like those better than Dogma?!"

Yup.

"Heresy!"

I'm sorry I'm not sorry. Yeah, I like those better than Dogma. The fact is, that in spite of the good things about Dogma, I have some issues. But we'll get to those. Let's talk about the good things first.

First off, the whole concept is a lot of fun.Taking a religious journey/mission/pilgrimage/quest thing and spinning it with many Smithian foul-mouthed ideas is unique and something not many people would have done. I think Smith is oddly innocent in his crass ideas, and it was his innocent approach with inappropriate material that led to a movie like this.

In most cases, people would have made a film that either was patently anti-religion, or was pro-religion, but lacked the crass things that are so much fun. Smith traversed territory that I don't think anyone else thought to. And I'm thankful he did. Whatever my reservations about religion on a personal level, I enjoy that he goes against type.

Not to get into sensitive topics here, but I hate when people say things like, "The majority of Christians are bad people." These same people get mad when they here things like, "Muslims are all terrorists." And there is a lot of vice versa on that as well.Generalizations, as a rule, are bull and I EFFING HATE people, on either side of the issue, who say patently stupid generalizations and then complain about generalizations.

Anyway, no more angry stuff. Let's review some more.


Aside from the awesome tone of the film, I rather enjoy Alan Rickman (How can you not?) and George Carlin (Again, how can you not?) I think Matt Damon and Ben Affleck own this film. I like them as the villainous, angelic duo. As well, I like the device of a universe ending paradox brought on by the contradicting of God's infallibility. Just fun stuff.

So, the problems? Well, the biggest one-- It doesn't fit in with the rest of the Askewniverse. I seriously don't like it set against the rest of the movies. For me, it feels almost like putting From Dusk Till Dawn and Kill Bill in the same universe. I hate that idea. It's like the Nolan Batman hanging out with the Justice League. It clashes.

You're telling me that Dante and Randall are in the same universe as this story? I hate that so much. It's always rubbed the wrong way, and I've really forced myself to separate this movie from the rest. I just have to.

And yes, I know that there are fantastical elements in other Smith films, but many of them work in the context of the universe. Let's take a film like Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Yeah, there are some crazy moment in that movie. But it's a movie about Jay and Silent Bob. I've always just accepted the fact that this journey actually happened more or less for real, but some things were exaggerated in the minds of the heroes given their usual inebriated manner.

The other problem with this movie is... Well, I hate to say this, but Smith himself. I'm a big defender of his as a director. People complain about his lack of "moving camera." Well, I've said it before on this blog, but seriously people, how many comedies do you watch where you think, "Wow, they moved that camera lot."? Honestly, it's a tired complaint and one inconsistently laid on Smith. Just watch a Judd Apatow movie. Wait, don't. Apatow sucks. (Yeah, I said it.)

In this movie, however, I feel like the norm for Smith didn't work. And I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that he was still early in his career, and this was a bigger movie than he'd ever taken on. I'm not saying he was overwhelmed, but maybe not used to this style of film.

My big complaints aside, it's still a good movie! It's hilarious, entertaining, and has some surprisingly poignant sentiments. I just kind of wish Jay and Silent Bob didn't make an appearance here.

But there you go. Dogma is great, but not high on my list of the Smith films. Tune in tomorrow!

3/5

Brit W.

10. Jersey Girl
9. Cop Out
8. Dogma
7. ?
6. ?
5. ?
4. ?
3. ?
2. ?
1. ?

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