Dogma (1999) - DVD Review
By ScottC - posted 02.06.02 @ 5:12 pm
Written by: Kevin Smith
Released by: Sony Pictures
My Advice: Buy it.
Dogma is an interesting mix of the sacred and the profane. In between his trademark "dick and fart jokes", Smith places dialogues on faith, religion, and God. Heavy stuff, but Smith's strength is in writing smart and funny language for his characters to say. Smith uses his characters to express his own belief that religions (especially Catholicism) are run by imperfect people who have taken God's message and screwed it up royally. A good example of this is when the muse Serendipity (Salma Hayek) says, "I have issues with anyone who treats faith as a burden instead of a blessing. You people don't celebrate your faith; you mourn it." The criticisms may have some merit, but the movie dwells on it too much. Still the Catholicism Wow! Campaign with the Buddy Christ is too funny.
Smith uses more visual techniques and action in Dogma, but at heart it's still people talking to each other. The twitchier members of the audience will find the movie a little slow, but most people know not to go to a Kevin Smith film for an explode-a-rama. All of the actors give great performances. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have their usual buddy routine going strong. Fiorentino gives the right amount of sardonic disbelief and cautious hope for her character. Even Chris Rock manages to deliver serious lines without going into stand-up mode. Hollywood, when it deals with religion, either goes for silly (Sister Act, Heaven Can Wait) or serious (The Last Temptation of Christ, The Exorcist), but Dogma walks the middle road and does a good job of it.
The DVD for Dogma is chock full of stuff. The first disc has the movie and two commentary tracks. The Cast and Crew track has the guys from the movie cracking jokes off each other and sharing some behind the screen stories. One thing we learn is the nun at the beginning of the movie is actually Lady (Betty) Aberlin from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. The track's funny, but not very informative. It doesn't give the filmmaking details some would want. For them there is the Technical Commentary that deals with the business of making the movie. One problem with the disc is that when you make a selection, a little old lady comes up and gives you grief about viewing "this blasphemous film". It's funny the first few times, but it gets old fast. And there's no way to turn her off.
The second disc has all the special goodies. There's the usual theatrical trailer and a "commercial" for Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash in New Jersey. You can also view the storyboards for three major action scenes drawn out on legal pad paper. Outtakes from the film feature the cast cracking up and flubbing their lines, typical stuff. But one good outtake has Matt Damon making obscene suggestions about Star Wars characters.
The best feature is the deleted scenes. They give extra back story of characters or show fuller versions of parts already in the film. Kevin Smith and View Askew historian Vincent Pereira introduce each piece and usually explain why the piece was cut. A plus is you get to see Smith's baby daughter Harley Quinn (definite proof Kevin Smith is a total fanboy). You also get the legendary "Fat Albert" cut scene where Jay and Silent Bob save their sorry butts by charming a street gang with a performance of the Fat Albert theme.
The movie and the DVD is most worthy, buy it.