Dogma Movie Poster Image

Dogma

(i)

 

Controversial comedy is irreverent and bloody.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: July 6, 2007
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 128 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Strong female characters -- God is a "she," and so is the film's heroine. A woman with a crisis of faith learns to believe again and to accept a mission from God.

Violence

Heads explode, characters get their necks broken, stabbed, thrown to the ground from high altitude, beat up, and held at gun/knife-point. However, the most violent scenes seem over-the-top and cartoonish for "comedic" effect.

Sex

Jay keeps crudely propositioning Bethany with sex and explicitly discusses sex; an adulterous couple makes out on a bus; Bethany gives Jay a brief kiss; Muse is shown dancing in bra and panties at a strip club. An angel says sex (and how people look during it) is considered a joke in heaven.

Language

There's not a scene without an F-word or worse, if not more like three. Other frequently spoken obscenities include: "bitch," "s--t," "assh--e," "bulls--t," and many euphemisms for genitals and sex.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Bethany gets drunk; Stoners Jay and Silent Bob smoke marijuana in a few scenes; An angel drinks after turning into a human as do customers at a strip club. The cardinal smokes a cigarette.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although this is a Kevin Smith comedy, it's controversial for its religious theme and elements. Although the Catholic League condemned the film, Smith maintains its message regarding the Christian faith is actually positive. Like most of Smith's comedies, this movie contains explicit conversations about sex, marijuana use, and a lot of strong language (they love the "f" word especially and you'll notice that quite a bit of dialogue is dubbed over when this plays on Comedy Central). There are also several violent scenes involving two renegade angels and a few demons, but the blood is over-the-top and almost cartoonish in nature.

What's the story?

Bethany (Linda Fiorentino) is a Planned Parenthood employee who also goes to church every Sunday. She's visited by an angel (Alan Rickman) and commanded to stop the renegade angels Loki and Bartleby from entering a particular Catholic church in New Jersey. If the angels succeed, they will undo existence. The 13th apostle Rufus (Rock), two earthly "prophets" -- Jay and Silent Bob, and the heavenly muse Serendipity (Hayek) all help Bethany on her divine mission. While Bethany struggles to make it to Jersey with her merry band of holy and very unholy characters, she slowly learns more and more hidden truths about God (he's a she) and Jesus (he hates it when hypocrites and televangelists pretend to do his bidding). As she reaches enlightenment, Loki and Bartleby go on an Old Testament-style killing spree, murdering the unfaithful, ungrateful unbelievers.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Kevin Smith is not a subtle writer-director, and this crude comedy is signature Smith. His films, with the exception of the watered-down romantic comedy Jersey Girl, rival Tarantino and Mamet for their talky, explicit dialogue and Allen and Guest for their troupe-like use of the same actors (Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes). DOGMA, which is Smith's most controversial film (and he's had plenty), is exactly what a moviegoer should expect from a Smith fantasy, except with a higher-minded theme (Christianity) and a few more A-listers (Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, and Alanis Morissette -- as God -- all joined his regular crew). It's got a lot of sex talk (characters Jay and Silent Bob, played by Mewes and Smith, rarely discuss anything but sex unless it's drugs) and Catholic jokes.

But it also pokes fun at New Jersey (its residents and the state itself), skeeball, pro-choice AND pro-life activists, African Americans, strippers, churchgoers, atheists, homosexuals… and the list goes on. Call it equal-opportunity mockery (think South Park), but not blasphemous, as the Catholic League contended. Without spoiling the ending, it's safe to say that Smith lets good triumph over evil. Women -- in the form of an incarnate God and "her" chosen one Bethany -- save humanity, and Smith allows for a message that's downright inspirational. Despite the controversy, Dogma seems directed by a former altar boy, which Smith is, believe it or not.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether Kevin Smith went too far by lampooning Christianity and the Catholic Church in particular. Is there a redeeming message about faith at the end or is it just offensive from start to finish? Do you think this fantasy comedy merited all of the controversy it stirred up or not?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 6, 1999
DVD release date:June 26, 2001
Cast:Ben Affleck, Linda Fiorentino, Matt Damon
Director:Kevin Smith
Studio:Lionsgate
Genre:Comedy
Run time:128 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong language including sex-related dialogue, violence, crude humor and some drug content

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written byKayKayD September 21, 2009

Not For Younger Kids

Good role models = they all come out good in the end, While I'm not religious, this movie still attracted me, and I loved it. There's a lot of blood and violence....and LITERALLY feces (big poop monster demon), lots of mentioning of the devil and God and weighs heavily on the Christian religion, a stripper scene, and people doing crazy things like falling from the sky. Something good about it is that some of the strongest characters (i.e. Bethany, the muse, God) were all women.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great role models
Parent Written byPlague December 17, 2009

Buddy Christ!

George Carlin was hilarious in this movie, as was the whole cast. Awesome movie.
Adult Written byJohnny J August 6, 2011

Full of emotion, full of laughs. Great film.

Ok, first off, I think this is a great movie & personally feel it's Kevin Smith's best work. Second, this is not for kids. My understanding of the US rating system isn't as full as my understanding of the UK rating system, but I grew up in the UK...my point is for example, in the UK this was rated 15 - I believe this was a mistake by the BBFC however. It should have been rated 18 (the next rating up) or somewhere between preferably (I reeeeally think it's time for the UK system to undergo a total overhaul. Cause hardly any movies are given an approriate rating there anymore). I really don't like all this passing off the harshness of something (be it language, sex or violence) in a movie "because it was done for comedic affect/in a comical way"...afterall there's comical and "comical". I see what some people who use these phrases mean - but lots of people who use them are just copying what they've heard somebody else say (that old chestnut), so have not really considered the full implications! Imo a movie like this or, for example, a movie like 40 Year Old Virgin (that has nearly 300 F words I believe - plus the other words) should be rated more harshly on the frequency of the swearing and receive an 18 not a 15 (if indeed, language is an issue as we're constantly taught it is). ...Anyyyway, this movie has no sex, but there is quite a bit of talk of it (tho NOTHING like the level in 40 Year Old Virgin) and many many uses of sexual swear words. There is also a fair amount of bloody violence. There is some drinking and mention of smoking herb, but nothing is really seen well on that score - this isn't a Cheech and Chong movie lol! It is a very funny movie though. And being somebody who's parents tried to raise Catholic but is actually an Athiest, I found the whole crisis of faith plot points of Bethany but particularly Bartleby & Loki really well done (you really feel Bartleby's frustration)! Ben Affleck gets a raw deal imo next to Matt Damon, imo they are both EQUALLY good actors. And Affleck is the bomb in Dogma, yo! There is a little toilet humour...lol literally!..But ultimately nothing of that type of really cringy "humour" that grosses you out. There's also a few great nods to the world of Star Wars and Indiana Jones among others too. My advice is to sit back ready to chill, switch your brain off, and let this movie draw you in...you won't regret it :)
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing

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