Dogma: God speaks through an interpreter
I watched Dogma because of Alan Rickman. Heck, I didn’t even know there were other big-name stars in the film until I saw Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in the opening scene. And George Carlin too.
I like Alan Rickman. I first saw him in Die Hard and I was impressed with his Hans Gruber portrayal (I also found his speaking voice and British accent very sexy). Then, I saw him and Sense and Sensibility and I was doubly impressed. Any actor who can be convincing as a bad guy and a good guy is a real actor. And then he was Snape, the hatable Portions teacher in the Harry Potter movies, and that’s the role that most people remember him for.
But before he was Snape, Alan Rickman was an archangel. The Metatron. Yes, a he-angel with wings but without balls, like a eunuch, in a film called Dogma.
Dogma is a comedy. It is about two fallen angels, Bartleby (Affleck) and Loki (Damon) who saw a chance to re-enter heaven by entering a church celebrating its centennial with plenary indulgence. The problem is that by re-entering heaven, they would be defying God, disproving that He is all-powerful and, as a result, negate creation and the existence of mankind.
Enter The Metatron who appears to abortion clinic enployee Bethany Sloane (Linda Fiorentino) and tells her that she had been chosen for the mission to stop the two fallen angels from crossing the church portal. She is reluctant, having lost her faith, but goes on with the mission anyway in the company of two marijuana-smoking prophets (one of whom holds the world record for the most number of masturbation) and the 13th Apostle, Rufus (Chris Rock), who claims he was taken out of the New Testament because he was black. They are later joined by Serendipity (Salma Hayek), a Muse suffering from writer’s block. The mission is thwarted by the demon Azrael (Jason Lee) and his Stygian Triplets.
Although it may seem as though Dogma were making fun of Catholicism, in reality, it crosses over religious boundaries. The names of the characters are from various religions and mythologies. Loki is a Norse god. The Metatron is an archangel in Judaism. There are references to Azrael in Judaism, Islam and Hebrew. “Stygian” is derived from the river Styx which, in Greek mythology, separated the Earth from the Underworld. The Muses were goddesses of literary and artistic inspiration in Greek mythology.
Is Dogma funny? Yes, it is. But you won’t find yourself guffawing while watching it. The humor is so tongue-in-cheek and the barbs, hardly subtle, are so hilariously irreverent yet strangely provocative. You can’t watch this film and object all the way that God is not such, angels don’t do that and that’s not what the Bible says. You just have to set faith and belief aside, and enjoy the ride.