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This is the fourth movie in the View Askewniverse. It came out in 1999, and it's the only one of the movies in this franchise that I saw in a theater. And then I didn't see it again until 2017, which is when I'm writing this review. By this time, I remember very little specifically about the movie (basically just that Alanis Morissette had an important role at the end of the movie). But I did remember thinking it was a very good movie, and watching it now I enjoyed it even more than I remembered. In fact it's probably my favorite View Askew movie of all.
It begins in New Jersey, with an old man being attacked by a trio of rollerblading hockey stick-wielding punks (who are actually demons). Then there's a couple of fallen angels, Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartleby (Ben Affleck), who are living in Wisconsin. Loki is the former Angel of Death (and I have no idea whether he was ever a Norse trickster god, but I wouldn't be surprised). When we first meet him, he's convincing a nun (played by Betty Aberlin, though I never would have recognized her) that she's been wasting her life. When he's done with his fun, Bartleby shows him a newspaper clipping sent to him anonymously about a Catholic church that's trying to remake its image for the modern era. This program is apparently spearheaded by Cardinal Glick (George Carlin), to attract potential new members. The upshot is, there's now a loophole that would allow Bartleby and Loki to return to Heaven, after having been cast out long ago.
Then there's a woman named Bethany Sloane (Linda Fiorentino), a Catholic who works at a Planned Parenthood clinic and has lost her faith since she lost her ability to bear children and her husband left her. One night, she's visited by an angel named Metatron (Alan Rickman), the voice of God, who gives her a mission to stop Bartleby and Loki from entering Cardinal Glick's church in New Jersey. I don't even want to get into how high the stakes are for this. Nor will I reveal the reason that Bethany has to be the one to do this. But I will say she gets some help from a couple of prophets (or profiteers), Jay and Silent Bob, as well as a dead former apostle named Rufus (Chris Rock), and eventually, a former Muse named Serendipity (Salma Hayek). Meanwhile, there's a wild card in the form of a demon named Azrael (Jason Lee), whose motives I don't want to spoil.
And I guess that's all I want to reveal of the plot. There were, of course, religious protests against the movie, calling it blasphemous, but that's kind of ridiculous, and I think most Christians should be able to just take the movie as a harmless comedy. I do think it's fairly amusing, as View Askew movie always are. But also I really like the perspective of religion that's presented in the film, which is actually kind of similar to my own take on such matters. If I overthink it, I can find some flaws with the internal logic of the story, but I'm always willing to set such concerns aside, if the story is entertaining. And this one definitely is. As a bonus, there's also some indictment of both racism and sexism in the Bible. And for my money, it's hard to beat a combination of quality humor, drama, social commentary, philosophy, adventure, and whatever other crap I may have forgotten about between watching the movie and writing the review.
Also, possibly best line ever written: "This is not a drill. This is the apocalypse."