Dogma - D+
Viewed November 13, 1999 at Lincoln Square

I like the basic idea behind Dogma, making a comic book movie out of the arcania of Catholic doctrine. The problem is that it requires a director with awesome visual imagination, and instead it's made by Kevin "Point and Shoot" Smith[1]. To make matters worse, Smith has also misplaced his talent for writing; Dogma consists of nothing more of long and extraordinarily dull expository monologues that ramble on about minutae of faith. Naturally, with dialogue that putrid, the acting suffers. With the exception of Alanis Morrisette, Chris Rock and Janeane Garofalo[2], the actors struggle to inject any feeling into any of Smith's arid discurses. The significant presence of Jason Mewes' Jay[3] and Kevin Smith's mugathon turn as Silent Bob does not help. The Catholic League is protesting the film for all the wrong reasons; they should be protesting because Dogma will bore the faith out of Catholics, not because of its irreverence toward Catholic traditions.

[1]For someone who claims to be such a giant fan of comic books, Smith's total lack of visual imagination is astounding. It makes you wonder if his true love is old-time radio.
[2]I don't care for Morrisette's music, but her work here as an eccentric child-woman God shows she has promise as an actress. She does have the unfair advantage of not having to say any of Smith's undeliverable dialogue. Rock and Garofalo (who has a very short cameo at the beginning) fare better than costars Alan Rickman, whose dyspeptic demeanor has never seemed so unintentionally approriate, and Linda Fiorentino since Rock and Garofalo have such distinctive delivery that even the Deadly Prose (sounds like a good supervillain, doesn't it?) can't defeat them.
[3]Can anyone think of a more irritating character in recent American movies not played by Pauly Shore than Jay?