There's a loophole in this whole God business, and two fallen angels, Bartleby (Ben Affleck) and Loki (Matt Damon) have noticed it and plan to use it to get back into heaven as they think they should, having spent too long in the mortal world for their own good, or so they believe. The trouble is, should they succeed there will be a catastrophe on Planet Earth which will see the whole of creation wiped out in a blink of the eye, and it's all the fault of a progressive priest (George Carlin) who wants to revamp Christianity. If those two angels make it through the doors of his cathedral, it's curtains for us all.
So began director Kevin Smith's most controversial film, seeing as how it was apparently fine to make lots of dirty jokes in his previous works and nobody who could possibly be offended felt the need to seek them out, yet once he tackled his religious faith all sorts began to protest, though they still didn't seek out the film, simply deriding it on its reputation. When it made it to cinemas after an attack of cold feet by the original studio, it was even picketted, and ever the prankster Smith even joined one of the lines, interviewed on television under an alias. All of which did nothing to dent the admiration of his fans.
As it stood, perhaps not so much being offensive Smith was biting off more than he could chew; when the film opens with captions asking you to relax and enjoy and please not protest the movie, there are alarm bells ringing, as if he didn't have the courage of his convictions, but once the premise is set up, which took a good half hour of the story, it began to find its groove. Nevertheless, Smith was perfectly sincere about approaching the subject of his faith, and because he dressed it up with his usual off-colour humour did not indicate he didn't mean to explore every aspect of the religion he was a part of.
Indeed, he appeared to have done his homework, as the lengthy lessons on theological details proved, rendering this less a sober discourse on Catholicism and more treating all those heavenly and not-so-heavenly entities in the same way George Lucas did with his Star Wars franchise, complete with complex relationships and references only the fans would get. The actual plot took the form of a road movie where abortion clinic worker Bethany (Linda Fiorentino, who didn't get on with her director which he was happy to admit) and the night when she wakes up in bed to find Metatron (the drily amusing Alan Rickman) in the room and informing her she must embark on a journey.
To New Jersey, to stop the fallen angels from getting to that doorway, and she has to be accompanied by two slackers not unlike the enduring Smith characters Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (our writer and director) - that's because it's precisely who they are. As if keen to pack in as many celebs as possible, also showing up were Chris Rock as the thirteenth apostle, Salma Hayek as a Muse, Jason Lee as chief antagonist Asrael, and many more, all relating acres of dialogue. That was a problem: despite dealing with the approaching apocalypse, you never had a sense of the truly epic taking place, largely down to how much of this seemed like a lark. Also the deeply held beliefs did not make quite as easy a marriage with the crudity as their creator might have hoped, so while there were funny lines it was too forced to look like more than a few rewrites away from anything really slick. Then again, that ramshackle nature could be part its charm. Music by Howard Shore.
American writer-director, by turns self-indulgent and hilarious. His first film Clerks brought him cult success, but he followed it with the big studio flop Mallrats. Chasing Amy was a return to form, and Dogma courted religious controversy. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was a tribute to the double act who appeared in every one of his films up until then (Silent Bob was played by Smith himself). Jersey Girl was a conventional romantic comedy that disappointed most of his fans.
Smith is also a writer of comic books, both established characters (Daredevil, Green Arrow) and his own creations. An attempt to turn Clerks into a cartoon series was a failure - but it was damn funny all the same. Fans of the characters could console themselves with the sequel Clerks II. He then offered sex comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno to mixed reviews, and Cop Out to downright terrible ones which led him to much public complaining. Self-proclaimed horror movie Red State, however, won him some of the best reactions of his career, though audiences were fewer in number.