Self-proclaimed ladies man Roger Swanson (Scott) thinks that he can charm
any woman into bed. When his teenage nephew Nick (Eisenberg) comes to New
York to learn the art of seduction from his worldly Uncle, Roger takes him
under his wing and the two hit Manhattan in pursuit of the fairer sex.
Once in a while a movie comes out of nowhere and ends up becoming
a cult classic. Roger Dodger is one of those movies.
Like Swingers, Clerks and Ferris Bueller's Day Off before it,
this movie is destined to become a must for anyone's collection. With instantly
quotable lines, hilariously funny set pieces and an underlying message that
is touching and poignant, Roger Dodger is a movie that will stick in the mind
for a long time.
The performances are superb. The very underestimated Campbell
Scott delivers a performance that will elate fans of this earlier work in
Singles, Dying Young and The Spanish Prisoner, as he lives up to the potential
he once showed. His Roger character commands your attention with his bullish,
cocky attitude but underneath he is passionately flawed and desperate for
love. This is what makes the character so intriguing, as his slightly schizophrenic
personality switches from this overly confident rogue when he is with protégé
Nick to an emotional train wreak when he is in the presence of his ex-lover
and boss. Scott conveys this emotional roller coaster ride with exceptional
skill in what could be a career-defining role and a tour-de-force.
There is also fantastic support from Jesse Eisenberg as Nick.
He plays the naïve nephew marvellously, whose journey of sexual discovery
and ultimately conquest is both funny and touching. He has a real look of
innocence and dependence, relying totally on his mentor uncle for advice,
never realising that his own teacher is in fact more flawed and vulnerable
than he could ever be.
Jennifer Beals and Elizabeth Berkley are also good as the first
women to be pursued by the rampaging Romeo's. Their reaction to Nick's innocence
and Roger's overbearing, insistent come-ons is exactly how you'd expect women
to react to the mismatched pair. Isabella Rossellini is also good as Joyce,
Roger's boss and suspect of his obsession. She is exactly what Roger thinks
he has become, but where she can move onto the next conquest, Roger becomes
the infatuated, clingy ex-lover you normally expect the woman to be.
These fantastic performances would be nothing without a great
script and first time writer/director Dylan Kidd provides just that. Filled
with extremely quotable dialogue, laugh-out-loud comedic set pieces but riddled
with emotion, Dylan does an immense job of capturing the confidence and vulnerability
of both Nick and Roger. His direction complements this by allowing the excellent
dialogue to flow and the hand-held camera approach gives you the impression
of been in the conversional circle that the characters inhabit.
While the movie does lose a certain amount of its edge in the
final third, this is more than made up for in Roger's realisation and redemption
in the finale. Roger Dodger is destined for cult recognition and is a must
for anyone who loves well written, character driven comedy drama. Now just
don't forget to take your opportunities where you can get them and that sex
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