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Roger Dodger

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Roger Dodger

Starring: Campbell Scott, Jesse Eisenberg
Director: Dylan Kidd
Rated: R
RunTime: 104 Minutes
Release Date: October 2002
Genres: Comedy, Drama

*Also starring: Elizabeth Berkley, Jennifer Beals, Isabella Rossellini, Mina Badie

Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

First-time writer/director Dylan Kydd tackles Sex, the City and Successful Seduction with this comic, acerbic portrait of a glib, arrogant Manhattan bachelor introducing his dorky 16 year-old nephew from Ohio to the intricacies of casual sexual conquest. Roger Swanson (Campbell Scott) is a sleazy, cocky, misogynistic advertising copywriter who believes he knows everything about manipulating women, bragging, "Words are my stock in trade." (He got his "dodger" nickname as a child who could talk his way out of sticky situations.) His impressionable nephew Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) is a novice at the seduction game and eager to lose his virginity. Yet as he escorts Nick on an enlightening, all-night excursion, Roger realizes he still has a lot to learn about what women really want. Campbell Scott ("Dying Young") deftly succeeds at humanizing a sad, sordid, repulsive fellow, while Jesse Eisenberg (brother of child actress Hallie) conveys an innocent honesty in his awkwardly relentless search for sex. As Roger's boss and soon-to-be ex-girlfriend, Isabella Rossellini is wisely restrained, while Jennifer Beals ("Flashdance") and Elizabeth Berkeley ("Showgirls"), as the female foils, offer some surprisingly candid sex talk. Notable for writing witty dialogue filled with trenchant, if perverse, psychological observations, Dylan Kydd juxtaposes photographer Joaquin Baca-Asay's frantic, fast-paced hand-held camera work with slow, verbose, intimate encounters, and the ending is artfully ambiguous. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Roger Dodger" is a scathing, disturbing 6. Along with Campbell Scott's memorable characterization, I suspect it will be remembered as Dylan Kydd's distinctive debut that will serve as a creditable calling-card for future ventures.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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