Favorite Fictional Characters, #334: Cardinal Ignatius Glick
Kevin Smith's comedic treatise on Catholicism tends to be divisive. Some love it, some hate it, and some are - appropriately enough - agnostic. There's a lot going on in this movie, some of which is fantastic. I particularly enjoy Chris Rock's second-class apostle, Salma Hayeck's sultry muse, and Alan Rickman's Voice of God (who else?). Damon and Affleck are even early enough in their stardom to retain some humility and appeal. Some of the material, from Lee's demon to the hockey triplets to the always-forgettable conceit of Jay and Silent Bob do very little for me. But the overall story is well-crafted and even thought-provoking, so I'm willing to forgive some of Smith's more self-indulgent junior high humor.
The best part of the film for me has always been George Carlin's misguided visionary, Cardinal Glick. Desperate to restore the popularity of the Catholic Church, Glick engages in a marketing campaign (Catholicism Wow!) that tries to modernize and sanitize the intimidating archaic bulkiness of organized religion, selling a strip-mall McFaith for the huddled masses. He envies the tobacco industry's ability, once the centerpiece of Catholic strategy, of hooking adherents while too young to know better. He recasts the Savior from crucified sufferer to winking buddy, and throws open the doors of Heaven with an invitation to plenary indulgence. Of course that threatens the existence of the universe when two fallen angels seek to take advantage of the loophole, and hilarity ensues.
Hey, mistakes were made. But casting Carlin as Glick, making use of his trademark irreverence and nonchalant subversiveness was not one of them.