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:: Roger Dodger

The thing that is immediately noticeable upon reflecting on this film is the amount of dialogue contained. It’s a case of almost all talk and no action. There are fascinating philosophies spoken of and the content pertains to sex and gender differences. The interest is in the characters and the observations, making Roger Dodger one of the most unusual, yet charming, movies I’ve seen in a while.

The film introduces roger (Campbell Scott) as a fast-talking, somewhat charming and witty man, who talks to co-workers of the dynamics between males and females as he has learned through his life. This includes the fact that man’s sexual purpose will be instantly obsolete the day science takes the sperm out of reproduction. The delivery of his information is so compelling that one can’t help but be convinced. The guys around Roger look at him and wish that they could be like him. Roger doesn’t take well the news that his boss Joyce (Isabella Rossellini) is ending their affair.

Roger then discovers that his eighteen year-old nephew Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) is in town and Nick has heard from his mother – Roger’s sister – that Roger is a ladies’ man. Nick is keen to have a girlfriend and would like some tips from Roger. Therefore, we enter Roger’s world, where women are prey and the object of the exercise is built around imagination and psychology.

The lecturing by Roger to Nick is fascinating. Nick is too decent for Roger’s influence and the situations force Roger to re-evaluate his own life. This frenzied night in Manhattan is cleverly scripted and most humorous. When Roger and Nick meet two happy-hour babes Andrea (Elizabeth Berkley) and Sophie (Jennifer Beals), the banter is comical. Then it’s time to crash a party hosted by Roger’s boss Joyce and then it’s on to an underground sex club.

Campbell Scott gives an excellent performance. He handles the role of Roger with cocky aplomb. He is well balanced by Jesse Eisenberg as Nick. He holds his own as a naïve young man who grows thoughtfully. The three women of the film: Isabella Rossellini, Elizabeth Berkley, and Jennifer Beals offer strong foils for Roger’s verbal jousting.

Director Dylan Kidd deserves credit for a dynamic feature film debut. He shot the film with a handheld camera that gives a unique feel to the film. It’s as if he is spying on the characters in getting them to be themselves. Yet, shooting on film actually allows for a truly independent result. It derives great energy, through the rapid-fire dialogue and the bar-room-lit cinematography adds further realism. Perhaps the only thing that let the film down was that it didn’t know when to end. However, it’s wickedly funny and Kidd pulls off one of the better films seen this year.