Life, the universe, and everything
William Sommerwerck | Renton, WA USA | 10/10/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's difficult to write a perceptive review when you're not sure what the film maker's intentions are. It's self-evident that the script is (as Kevin Smith says) "the product of 28 years of religious and spiritual meditation". You don't knock out such a complex piece of writing in a couple of weekends. But as for the why...
Smith has multiple targets, one of which is the "cutesying" of religion, as shown in the "Catholicism WOW!" campaign and the "Buddy Jesus" statue. (Not to mention the idea that the church has to adjust to human needs, rather than human beings doing what God requires of them.) He's also poking fun at religious dogma, which can include ridiculous and self-contradictory beliefs (such as those that drive "Dogma"s plot).
The issue that Smith only briefly addresses, and skips over the answer to, but which is at the heart of all arguments over God and His/Her/Its relationship to mankind is... Why would infinite eternal Spirit create a finite temporal universe, subject to change and corruption? It is the patently self-contradictory belief that the material universe is God's creation that leads to the mental and moral confusion about why we're here (we aren't) and what we're supposed to do about it (grow out it). The simple answer to The Problem of Being is that, if God is infinite, then there is no room for anything unlike God.
There's no question that "Dogma" is a broad attack on organized -- and therefore materialistic -- religion, so no sincerely spiritual person could -- or should -- be offended by it. Organized religion doesn't need Kevin Smith to attack it -- to any reasonably thoughtful person, it's its own worst enemy. I am, however, offended by the almost-continual flow of vulgar language. Less -- much less -- would be more, and more-effective.
Smith has done a good job of converting a philosophical essay into a watchable film. It sags at spots (particularly at the end), and Smith's direction could be a bit more focused and "stylish", but it's great that a film actually has something to say -- even if it isn't always clear what that something is."