Unlike his breakthrough Clerks, Kevin Smith's 1999 Dogma actually has a plot, and a good thing, too. Because without it Dogma would quickly grind to a halt, sunk to its wheelwells in sinuous, interminable talk. That talk ranges to subjects including the ultimate meaning of life, the nature of God, and immanentizing the eschaton. More crucial in keeping the film from falling into self-reflexive monologue are Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as the two exiled angels whose longing for heaven leads them into contact with Alan Rickman (as the Angel of the Annunciation), Linda Fiorentino (as the reluctant abortion-clinic-volunteer recipient of his message from above), and Chris Rock (as a 13th apostle). As always, Smith himself is on hand as Silent Bob—who fortunately doesn't live up to his name. His dogma amounts to: "This is the universe. We're all stuck here. Nobody gets a break, not even God. Get used to it. Go, thou, and party." Call for showtimes. (R) ROGER DOWNEY

June 8-13, 2012

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