Dogma (1999)

A review by Shlomoh Sherman
September 20, 2016

Dogma (1999)
Director: Kevin Smith
Writer: Kevin Smith
Stars: Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino
Plot Summary: An abortion clinic worker with a special heritage is called upon to save the existence of humanity from being negated by two renegade angels trying to exploit a loop-hole and reenter Heaven.
Plot Keywords: angel - clinic - abortion clinic - abortion - church
Taglines: Faith is a funny thing.
Genres: Adventure - Comedy - Drama - Fantasy
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): Rated R for strong language including sex-related dialogue, violence, crude humor and some drug content
Country: USA
Language: English
Release Date: November 12, 1999 (USA)
Filming Locations: New Jersey, USA, St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church - Larimer Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, Pittsburgh International Airport, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, 600 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, Carnegie Mellon University - 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, Grand Concourse Restaurant - 100 W. Station Square Drive, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, Highlands, New Jersey, USA, Pinnacle Studios, Trafford, Pennsylvania, USA, New Kensington, Pennsylvania, USA, Asbury Park, New Jersey, USA, Los Angeles, California, USA, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, Red Bank, New Jersey, USA
Box Office:
Budget: $10,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $8,669,945 (USA) (November 12, 1999)
Gross: $30,651,422 (USA) (March 24, 2000)
Company Credits:
Production Co: View Askew Productions
Runtime: 130 min
8 nominations:
Golden Schmoes Best DVD of the Year
Independent Spirit Award Best Screenplay Kevin Smith
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards 2000 Sierra Award Best Screenplay Kevin Smith
Razzie Award Worst Supporting Actress Salma Hayek
Golden Satellite Award Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Comedy or Musical Alan Rickman
Best Original Song Song: "Still"
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America 2001 Nebula Award Best Script Kevin Smith
The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards 1999 Stinker Award Musicians Who Shouldn't Be Acting Alanis Morissette


Well I watched CLERKS about a million years after it came out and I completely forgot how funny it is; I mean, bellyache funny. Kevin Smith [Silemt Bpb] knows how to create absurdly hillarious situations and dialog.

While I relate my appreciation for Clerks, my daughter aksed me if I had seen DOGMA. NO! I had never even heard of it. Well, she says, you have to see it. It's Bob and Jay at their best.

OK, So I get a copy of DOGMA and watch.

First of all, I can't believe the fantastic cast Kevin has assembled. All top notch stars. Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck, George Carlin, Linda Fiorentino, just to mention a few! AND Alanis Morissette as God!

Then, of course, just as in Clerks, the dialog is fast moving and utterly insanely funny. Of course, if you are sensitive to a movie which lampoons religion, you may have a problem with the humor. And by the way, the film's producers preface the film with zn apology to those whose religious sensitivities may be offended. My own take - it's better for you folks not to see the film.

Bethany, an abortion clinic worker, supposedly descended from Jesus, is called upon by Heavan to stop two angels who have been cast out of Heaven from reentering, and thereby obliterating all of reality. The thing is that once God casts you out of Heaven, He doesn't want you to ever return. If these two fallen ones can force their way back into the celestial realm, they will prove God wrong. If God is proven wrong, then all that He has created [all of reality] will become null and void [as it was before He said, "Let there be light!"

On their way to the New Jersey church [where George Carlin is cardinal], Bethany meets up with and is helped by two prophets, Jay and Silent Bob, and Rufus, Jesus' 13th [black] apostle, they encounter one after another almost disasterous adventure by the forces allied agianst the Almighty who attempt to stand in their way to prevent them from stopping the angels from entering the church and hence, reentering Heaven.

Unlike his role in CHASING AMY, in which he has a whole sililoquy, Silent Bob stays true to form here with two words spoken to a passenger, after tossing the two angels off a moving train: "No ticket!", and "Thanks" spoken to Rufus before he goes back to heaven.

Of course, all dialog that Kevin writes for Jay is over the top funny in spite of, or because of, Jay's over-use of the Eff Bomb. Of course, Silent Bob is the perfecvt straight man for Jay. These guys are dynamic although I am afraid that their humor will not appeal to everyone. I can only say, Why the heck have I been blissfully unaware of these two guys? Once again, I have to thank my daughter for raising my movie consciousness.

Now I guess that sooner or later, I'll have to check out Mallrats [1995], Chasing Amy [1997], Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back [2001], Jersey Girl [2004], Clerks II [2006], Tusk [2014], Holidays Segment: "Halloween" [2016], Jay & Silent Bob's Super Groovy Cartoon Movie [2013], and Yoga Hosers [2016]

Speaking of other movies, 30 minutes into the film, Jay and Bob are discussing [mostly Jay] John Hughes' movies which take place in the town of Shermer, Il. These are also movies, many of which, my daughter has inspired me to review: Weird Science, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Jay remarks about Sixteen Candles: "There's tits but no bush. All the honeys are top shelf but the dudes are whiney bitches - except Judd Nelson - he's harsh."

Jay and Silent Bob get the idea that if they go to the town of Shermer, Illinois, where most of John Hughes' movies take place, they could get chicks and be the "blunt connection". However, Jay is pissed off when he discovers that Shermer is a completely fictional town.

This movie appeals to me, not only due to Kevin Smith's brilliant dialog but for it's humorously religious theme. The film appears to poke fun at the Catholic Church, especially in the scenes during which George Carlin, an admitted militant atheist, speaks his lines as the pompous Cardinal Glick. Did Kevin purpously give him a name that sounds suspiciously Jewish? And by the way, 45 minutes into the film, Cardinal Glick delivers a speech in which he appears to make a Jewish deicide remark to the effect that Christ was killed by the very people he came to deliver. However it is also possible that the remark refers to the human race. Perhaps the remark is offset by Glick's announcement that the Church is abandoning the brutal image of the Crucifix as the supreme religious icon of Catholicism, replacing it with a much friendlier image of a "Buddy Christ".

We are also informed that God is really a female, played subtlely by Alanis Morissette

I will not reveal the denoument of the film but only to say that the ending fits the plot.

I quote from Movie_Muse' February, 2008 Review: [at IMDB website]: ""Dogma" isn't the kind of comedy that most people will find themselves holding onto their guts during ... Kevin Smith's writing is clever enough to the point where you will be pleasantly shocked by some of the conversations and events of the film ... It's not hilarious, it's just clever and a bit funny ... The physical events that take place are ultimately boring and unexciting. It's the moments along the way, the conversations and the philosophy that come about, that make it successful. Affleck's character raises a lot of interesting religious questions about humanity and his conversation with the protagonist on the train is rather insightful. In general, Smith has used Bethany as a way to keep the viewers skepticism of the plot active in the film. She keeps it from getting preposterous. In general, the whole cast is very talented and their characters well written, which keeps the film interesting ... DOGMA is a smart concept that ultimately results in a sharp satire and some great thoughts that scrutinize religion in a way that never seems too out of line."

KUDOS to the late, great George Carlin as Cardinal Glick. Carlin's outrageous, politically incorrect brand of comedy has always made me laugh. Carlin was a true iconoclast in every sense of the word, lampooning the political and religious hypocrisies of our age. RIP.

KUDOS to Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as the two destructive angels. I sometimes think these two are rather puffed up about themselves, and Affleck has shown himself to be a self-righteous blowhard on Bill Maher's show. Nevertheless, they are very talented actors in a variety of genres.

KUDOS to Linda Fiorentino as Bethany. I have not seen much of Ms Fiorentino but the few of her films that I have seen have had me appreciate her talent and beauty.

KUDOS to Salma Hayek as the Muse. Ms Hayek is so pretty that I can overlook any problem with her acting. Perhaps her best remembered role is that of Frida Kahlo in the 2002 production of FRIDA

KUDOS to Alan Rickman, everyone's favorite British badguy, as Metatron, voice of the Lord. Some people report that Rickman was anti-Israel but an article in the Times of Israel denied this allegation. Jewish communities reacted negatively to Rickman's work as director of the 2005 play “MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE,” which is about an American student killed by an Israeli army bulldozer while she was acting as a human shield, protesting the Israeli military presence in the Gaza Strip.
According to the Jewish daily, FORWARD, Rickman did not feel the play should’ve caused such a controversy. In a 2007 interview, he told the Israeli newspaper, HAARETZ: "Many Jews supported it. The New York producer was Jewish." I have scoured GOOGLE to find any outwardly anti-Israel statements that Rickman may have made but have found none. It is natural to find that Jews are sensitive about any controversy regarding the Jewish State but I am not surprised that gentiles don't always support Jewish political views which doesn't necessarily make them bad people. Rickman was, after all, in show business. Some of his best friends may have been Jews.

KUDOS to Chris Rock as Jesus' 13th Apostle. Rock is superbly cast as the one apostle who remained unknown simply because he was black. This apostle informs us that not only was Jesus black but that God is actually a woman.

KUDOS to Alanis Morissette as God. Ms Morissette has a sweet voice but as mentioned above, she was nominated in the category of Musicians Who Shouldn't Be Acting by The Stinkers 1999 Bad Movie Awards. She has no speaking role and many other actresses could have been cast in the role. Her performance is adequate.  

Did You Know?

According to Kevin Smith on his DVD commentary, Linda Fiorentino was very difficult to work with and on some days in fact wasn't even speaking to him. In retrospect Smith says he wishes he offered the role to Janeane Garofalo instead.
Jason Mewes had the entire script memorized before rehearsals. When asked why, he said it was because he didn't want to anger Alan Rickman, and because Kevin Smith took him aside before rehearsals began and said he needed to be on his best behavior and bring his A game to the set, which Mewes did.
William Donohue of the Catholic League lambasted the film and publicly protested against it for months without actually seeing the film, after which his office called View Askew offices and said "Dr. Donohue requests a special screening of Dogma (1999) so that he can speak about it intelligently." Kevin Smith's response was: "So what has he been doing the past six months?"
When they heard Alan Rickman was a Chasing Amy (1997) fan, Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier felt confident enough to ask him to play Metatron. He read the script and came back with only two questions: 1) would we stay faithful to the script, and 2) are the wings real or CGI?
Alanis Morissette was originally meant to play the leading role of Bethany Sloan, but was unable to because of her 1998-99 world tour. By the time she was able to work on the film, the role had been cast so she was offered the chance to play God as compensation.
Kevin Smith wrote this screenplay before he wrote Clerks (1994), but shelved it because he wanted to do it with proper special effects.
Unbeknown to protesters, Kevin Smith joined one of the Catholic groups that protested his film.
George Carlin agreed to take the role of Cardinal Glick, but didn't want to remove his wedding band (he had recently lost his wife), so he wore a Band-Aid to hide it. This was actually unnecessary as Catholic clergy wear wedding bands to signify their "marriage" to the church.
The role of Loki was written for Jason Lee, but scheduling conflicts forced him to take on the smaller role of Azrael and Matt Damon took over as Loki.
Rufus's reply, "Know him? Nigga owes me twelve bucks!" when asked if he knows Christ was one of the few lines ad-libbed by Chris Rock. Another ad-lib is when Rock calls Silent Bob "Biggie." It was originally written as "tubby."
This is the fourth film in Kevin Smith's intricately interconnected View Askewniverse series.The movies are all linked by characters, themes and events and each contains numerous references to the others. They are Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Clerks II.
The irony about Catholics and the Catholic League protesting against this movie is that Kevin Smith was raised Roman Catholic, and still considers himself a Catholic. He thanks God in the end credits and mentions that he is raising another little Catholic (his daughter).
According to Kevin Smith, his first choice for the role of Bethany was Gillian Anderson.
Due to the controversy of the film, Disney was having doubts about releasing the film, at which point Miramax's Harvey Weinstein personally brought the project from Miramax and sent it to Lions Gate Films.
Kevin Smith had Samuel L. Jackson and Will Smith in mind to play Rufus.
Shannen Doherty, who played Renee in Mallrats (1995), wanted the role of Bethany.
Bill Murray, John Travolta and Adam Sandler were all considered for the role of Azrael. Adam Sandler turned down the role to work on Big Daddy (1999).
Several versions of the script had much less couth dialogue for the conversation between Loki and the nun.
Albert Brooks was offered the role of Cardinal Glick.
Dogma is the most violent of any of Kevin Smith's comedies.
When they are in the bar watching the reign of terror at the church on the news, the newscaster is Brian O'Hallorahan (Dante Hicks from Clerks) making his fourth appearance in a Kevin Smith film. Also making a cameo is Jeff Anderson (Randal from Clerks) as the gun salesman. Several other Clerks minor characters also appear as well, as they do in all Kevin Smith's films.
Silent Bob speaks a total of three words in the movie: "No ticket" on the train; and "Thanks" after Rufus (Chris Rock) was talking to Jay before going back to heaven.
When Silent Bob tosses Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's characters off the train, he says one of the only lines he has in the movie, "No ticket" when he is caught by a passenger. "No ticket" is a line that Harrison Ford delivers in "Indian Jones And The Last Crusade" when he tosses a character out the window and is caught off guard by the passengers.

After Rufus falls to earth, when he is reading the Aramaic to Bethany, he concludes by pointing out Jesus' name Left-to-Right while Aramaic is read Right-to-Left.
Rufus says to Bethany, "You are the great great great GREAT great grand-niece of Jesus Christ." If he were actually trying to be accurate, there would be around eighty "greats."
While eating outside of Mooby, Rufus refers to Mary Magdalene as "Mary Magladin".
The Catholic concept of a Plenary Indulgence is incorrectly described. When Bartleby describes the Plenary Indulgence offered upon passing through the doorway of the Cathedral during Cardinal Glick's rededication ceremony, he states that by passing through the doorway "all their sins will be forgiven." Additionally, Grant Hicks describes plenary indulgence as a "clean slate." However, an indulgence is not the forgiveness of sins, it is the removal of the need for temporal punishment for sins that have already been forgiven through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, i.e. confession and absolution by a priest. The indulgence allows the removal of the need for punishment through penance in the current life, or through Purgatory in the world to come.
Protestants usually acknowledge that Mary was a virgin only until after Jesus' birth. Four brothers of Jesus are named in the Bible: James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. However, Catholic tradition insists that these four (and some sisters also mentioned in the text) were cousins of Jesus and not siblings, thus maintaining the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. Since Bethany only knows Catholic doctrine, the news that Mary had other children comes as a surprise to her.


Bethany: What's he like?
Metatron: God? Lonely. But funny. He's got a great sense of humor. Take sex for example. There's nothing funnier than the ridiculous faces you people make mid-coitus.
Bethany: Sex is a joke in heaven?
Metatron: The way I understand it, it's mostly a joke down here, too.

Jay: Yo man, tell me something about me.
Rufus: You masturbate more than anyone on the planet.
Jay: Aw fuck, everyone knows that. Tell me something nobody knows.
Rufus: When you do it, you're thinking about guys.
[a shocked Silent Bob stares at Jay]
Jay: Dude, not all the time.

Metatron: Metatron acts as the voice of God. Any documented occasion when some yahoo claims God has spoken to them, they're speaking to me. Or they're talking to themselves.

Bethany: Wait a minute. Christ. You know Christ?
Rufus: Knew him? Shit, nigga owes me 12 bucks!

Metatron: You people. If there isn't a movie about it, it's not worth knowing, is it?

Gun Salesman: We call this piece the Fecalator. One look at it and the target shits him or herself. Try it on.
Loki: Well, it's a lot more compact than the flaming sword, but it's not nearly as impressive. Just doesn't have that Wrath-of-the-Almighty edge to it. I mean, come on, how am I supposed to strike fear into the hearts of the wicked with this thing?

Bethany: I don't mean to sound ungrateful... but what are you doing hanging around?
Jay: We're here to pick up chicks.
Bethany: Excuse me?
Jay: We figure an abortion clinic is a good place to meet loose women. Why else would they be there unless they like to fuck?

Metatron: I am to charge you with a holy crusade.
Bethany: For the record, I work in an abortion clinic.
Metatron: Noah was a drunk. Look what he accomplished. And no one's even asking you to build an ark. All you have to do is go to New Jersey, and visit a small church on a very important day.

Jay: Guys like us just don't fall out of the fucking sky, you know.
[Rufus falls out of the sky]
Jay: Beautiful, naked, big-titted women just don't fall out of the sky, you know.

Cardinal Glick: The Catholic Church does not make mistakes.
Rufus: Please. What about the Church's silent consent to the slave trade?
Bethany: And its platform of noninvolvement during the Holocaust?
Cardinal Glick: All right, mistakes were made.

Serendipity: Read the Bible again sometime. Women are painted as bigger antagonists than the Egyptians and Romans combined.

[about the protesters outside the Abortion Clinic]
Liz: You're Catholic, can't you talk to them?
Bethany: They hate me more than you. At least you have an excuse, you're Jewish, you don't know any better.
Liz: I don't think they'd accept that one, we used that one already when we killed Christ.

Crazy Credits:
Opening text: Disclaimer: 1) a renunciation of any claim to or connection with; 2) disavowal; 3) a statement made to save one's own ass. Though it'll go without saying ten minutes or so into these proceedings, View Askew would like to state that this film is - from start to finish - a work of comedic fantasy, not to be taken seriously. To insist that any of what follows is incendiary or inflammatory is to miss our intention and pass undue judgment; and passing judgment is reserved for God and God alone (this goes for you film critics too...just kidding). So please - before you think about hurting someone over this trifle of a film, remember: even God has a sense of humor. Just look at the Platypus. Thank you and enjoy the show. P.S. We sincerely apologize to all Platypus enthusiasts out there who are offended by that thoughtless comment about the Platypi. We at View Askew respect the noble Platypus, and it is not our intention to slight these stupid creatures in any way. Thank you again and enjoy the show.
"DOGMA" is the culmination of a lifetime's worth of disparate spiritual and satirical influences, which owes a debt to sundry storytellers and word-smiths: in no particular order: Saint Matthew, Saint Mark, Saint Luke, Saint John, Sam Kinison, George Carlin, Elaine Pagels, John Milton, Cervantes, Martin Scorsese, Alan Moore, Thomas Moore, Spike Lee, Douglas Adams, Robert Bolt, Quentin Tarantino, Nikos Kazantzakis, Denys Arcand, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Matt Wagner, Howard, Robin, Jackie, Fred, Gary, and Everyone at The Howard Stern Show and Sister Theresa from 8th grade.
Read the further adventure of Jay and Silent Bob in Oni Press Comics. Find Jay and Silent Bob whoring their image on t-shirts, action figures, and other fine products produced exclusively by Graphitti Designs. And when you're in Red Bank, drop a few bucks on comics, toys, and cool "Dogma" swag (all featuring Jay and Silent Bob) at Jay & Silent Bob's Secret Stash, 35 Broad St. Hey, man - I've got a kid I'm going to have to put through college one day, alright?

Still Written and Performed by Alanis Morissette Published by MCA Music, a division of Universal Studios, Inc./1974 Music (ASCAP) Courtesy of Maverick Recording Company
Never on Sunday Written by Manos Hatzidakis (as Manos Hadjidakis) & Billy Towne Performed by The Chordettes Used by permission of EMI Unart Catalog Inc. (BMI) Courtesy of Barnaby Record, Inc. By Arrangement with Celebrity Licensing Inc.
Skokiaan Written by August Msarurgwa Performed by Dámaso Pérez Prado (as Perez Prado) Used by permission of Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., Inc. sub-publisher for English speaking countries on behalf of Gallo (Africa) Ltd. Courtesy of The RCA Records Label of BMG Entertainment Mi Unico Camino Written by Rubén Méndez (as Ruben Mendez) Performed by El Conjunto Bernal Used by permission of Peer International Corporation (BMI) Courtesy of Arhoolie Records
Magic Moments Written by Hal David & Burt Bacharach Performed by Perry Como Used by permission of Casa David (ASCAP) & Famous Music Corp. (ASCAP) Courtesy of The RCA Records Label of BMG Entertainment
Love Is Strange Written by Sylvia Robinson & Mickey Baker (as M. Black) Performed by Mickey & Sylvia Used by permission of Ben Ghazi Inc. (BMI) & Twenty-Nine Black Music Inc. (BMI) Courtesy of The RCA Records Label of BMG Entertainment
Alabamy Bound Written by Buddy G. DeSylva (as B.G. DeSylva), Bud Green & Ray Henderson Performed by Ray Charles Used by permission of Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., Inc.; Stephen Ballentine Pub. Co. & Holiday Publications c/o The Songwriter's Guild of America, Bienstock publishing Co. o/b/o Redwood Music Ltd. c/o Carlin Music; & Henderson Music Courtesy of Ray Charles Enterprises, Inc.
Run's House Written by Darryl McDaniels (as D. McDaniels), Jason Mizell (as J. Mizell), David Reeves (as D. Reeves) & Joseph Simmons (as J. Simmons) Used by permission of Protoons, Inc. (ASCAP)/Rush-Groove Music (ASCAP)
Candy Girl Written by Maurice Starr & Michael Johnson (as Michael Jonzun) Performed by New Edition Used by permission of EMI April Music Inc., Colgems-EMI Music Inc. (ASCAP) & ARL Music, Inc. (ASCAP) Courtesy of Warlock Records, Inc.
Saturday Night Written by Schooly-D (as Jesse Bonds Weaver, Jr.) Courtesy of Schoolly Dee Music (admin. by Zomba Songs Inc.) (BMI) Performed by Schooly-D (as Schoolly D) Courtesy of Jive Records
Aloha Los Pescadores Written and Performed by Jack Nitzsche (as Jack Nitzche) Published by Cuckoo's Nest Music (BMI) Courtesy of Fantasy, Inc.
It's Like That Written by Larry K. Smith (as L. Smith), Joseph Simmons (as J. Simmons) & Darryl McDaniels (as D. McDaniels) Performed by Run-D.M.C. (as RUN-DMC) Used by permission of Protoons, Inc. (ASCAP)/Rush-Groove Music (ASCAP) Courtesy of Arista/Profile Records
Blue Danube Waltz Opus 314 Johann Strauss (as Strauss) Courtesy of FirstCom & Chappell Recorded Music Library
Just Heard The News Written by: Scott Nickoley and Jamie Dunlap
The High Cost of Low Living Written by: Scott Nickoley and Jamie Dunlap

Discuss Dogma (1999) on the IMDb message boards at

Read Germain Lussier's 1/28/16 review of Dogma, KEVIN SMITH'S DOGMA HASN'T AGED WELL, BUT IT'S STILL A MINOR MIRACLE, at in which he declares:

Dogma will forever stand as a monument to a filmmaker finding his voice, and a bygone studio system willing to champion off-the-wall, original ideas. If you think about it, this movie probably shouldn’t even exist. Can you even imagine Dogma being made now, with all its controversy and vulgarity, wrapped in religiously-charged story that’s not based on a prior property? No way. Never. But it does exist and the world is better for it, even if it doesn’t totally work.

Read about DOGMA on the Internet Movie Data Base at

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bud Cort ... John Doe Jersey
Barret Hackney ... Stygian Triplet
Jared Pfennigwerth ... Stygian Triplet
Kitao Sakurai ... Stygian Triplet
George Carlin ... Cardinal Glick
Brian O'Halloran ... Grant Hicks
Betty Aberlin ... Nun
Matt Damon ... Loki
Ben Affleck ... Bartleby
Chris Rock ... Jesus' 13th Apostle
Dan Etheridge ... Priest at St. Stephen's
Linda Fiorentino ... Bethany
Derek Milosavljevic ... Kissing Couple
Lesley Braden ... Kissing Couple
Janeane Garofalo ... Liz
Salma Hayek ... Muse
Alan Rickman ... Metatron
Alanis Morissette ... God

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