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    Stars:Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Linda Fiorentino, George Carlin, Alan Rickman, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes (Jay), and Kevin Smith (Silent Bob)
    Okay, I admit it. I'm a big fan Kevin Smith movies. Somewhere between the oddball plots, side-splitting humor, and profound vulgarity can be found true-to-life morals and actual heart. It's a safe bet that people who hate his movies can't see past all the blatant offensiveness to discover what Smith is really trying to say. Which in itself is odd because the character Smith plays in his movies, the enigmatic Silent Bob, rarely says anything at all. It is my opinion that the people who don't understand Smith's movies are the very people he derides. He takes jabs at the "establishment" and in particular, people who take themselves way too seriously.

    I've seen all four Kevin Smith films, which are (in order) Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and now, Dogma. Each one has an entirely different feel and purpose, yet is tied together through a few common elements. The most profound of these elements is Smith's intelligent writing, replete with his own unique brand of humor. So, to which subject does the pen get applied this time? The most sensitive, un-attackable subject of them all: religion.

    I have heard of scores of zealots attacking Dogma for what they see is heresy. How many of those zealots have actually seen this movie? A show of hands, please. Nobody? What a surprise. Those zealots were probably given a list of all the heretical and iconoclastic things about Dogma, but such a list would undoubtedly be way out of context. You see, Dogma is one of the most faith-affirming movies I've seen. Smith kicks sand in the face of those who try to turn religion into what it is not while simultaneously applying a very sensible and logical philosophy that makes quite a bit of sense. How he goes about sending this message is perhaps the best part of the movie.

    The drudgery that comes out of Hollywood sometimes is truly baffling. Rehashed plots and tired actors can certainly turn one off of movies forever. That would be unwise, though, because every once in a while, something truly fresh and remarkable comes along. Take for example, oh, I don't know, Dogma. This movie is a joy to behold, both in its message and (particularly) rolling-in-the-aisles delivery. Sure, it's violent. Sure, it's vulgar. Sure, it pushes the envelope in terms of what is tolerable. But damn, is it fun.

    One of the interesting things about Kevin Smith films is his reference to other movies. In Dogma, we see references to Star Wars (of course), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, every Bond movie known to man, the Karate Kid, the Six Million Dollar Man, and probably a few more I forgot about. Another interesting thing is the cast roster. Smith movies seem to draw a lot of big stars, Dogma especially, but the film isn't over-hyped like such a cast list would presume to indicate. Indeed, Dogma opened on a limited number of screens in the nation, and then only limited showtimes. It is almost difficult to find a convenient showtime, but let me tell you (in big bold letters), it's worth it. Read the disclaimers at the beginning of the movie, turn off your offensiveometer, and enjoy one of the absolute best movies of the year.

    Comments? E-mail movies@aldebaran.net