Dogma, like Chasing Amy before it, expands upon the basic framework that Kevin Smith's first film, Clerks laid out with such perverted glee.  Dogma is, without a doubt, Smith's most ambitious film, to date.  Unfortunately, with so many characters, subplots and philosophies all crammed into one script, it actually becomes too ambitious. 

Dogma plays more like a book, rather than a movie.  Before being allowed to figure out what's going on in the film on our own, some cast member explains it to us through simplistic dialogue that always seems vaguely out of place.  Not only are we denied watching the plot unfold without being told that the plot is unfolding; we're never given a chance to learn who a character is, before that character, and his or her entire life history (being eternal, some of these characters have long stories to tell), is spelled out for us.  This film would have benefited greatly by cutting its characters in half and eliminating a few of the more inane subplots, so it could concentrate on being a film; not a two hour description of a film.

All that being said and done; there is a lot to like in Dogma.  The cast obviously had a great time working with the (mostly) hilarious dialogue, and there are great performances all around.  The script hits on a lot of sensitive topics without being grossly offensive (although I wish it would have been a more equal-opportunity offender, spreading its satirical comedic attacks over a larger playing field; possibly picking on a few other religions, in addition to Catholicism).  There are some serious moments that actually border on sophisticated, and should get the audience thinking about more than where they're gonna get stoned after the movie's out.  There's a wildly funny tribute to Indiana Jones, and a thinly-disguised slam on Disney World that should have you anti-corporate types cheering wildly. 

I'd give it 7 Juicy squirts out of a possible 10

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Copyright 2001 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved]