April 25, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Condemned by the ”faithful,” then commended by critics with retaliatory zeal, Kevin Smith’s biblical burlesque now seems a sanctimonious trifle. The story (banished angels Affleck and Damon try to reenter heaven via a doctrinal loophole) is charming nonsense, but behind the laughs lurks a dour passion play, complete with fake blood and vacuous sermonizing. Thank God (Alanis Morissette) for Smith’s slacker-sage patois, which keeps Dogma enjoyable between the spurious epiphanies.

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