Roger Dodger

…Can’t Kill ‘Em
Film review by: Witney Seibold

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            Roger is a smart man. Erudite, educated, articulate. He has a firm belief system, and a profound self-understanding. He’s charming and handsome. He’s also the biggest creep you’ll ever meet. A misogynist. Belittling, immature, narcissistic, and maybe not understanding himself all that well after all. He’s like Bob Guccione with a sociology degree. It is with this man that we get to spend the film “Roger Dodger,” written and directed by Dylan Kidd, and starring the wonderfully smarmy Campbell Scott.
            Roger has just been dumped by his mistress (Isabella Rossellini), and spends his nights trying to seduce women in bars and clubs. Of course, the way he does it, with his insulting truths, we can’t be sure if he’s looking to score, or intentionally alienate people. A salvation enters his life in the form of his teenage nephew, Nick (Jesse Eisenburg). Nick wants to lose his virginity. What proceeds is a fast-talking battery of lessons, observations, and rigid rules for how to bed a woman swiftly and easily. The problem with this is that Roger is so used to lying, manipulating, and, well, being Roger, that he can’t see when women (Elizabeth Berkley and Jennifer Beals in particular) begin to react to Nick’s instinctual naïve honesty, and desire for love.
            If this synopsis makes the film sound sad and dreary, I apologize. The film is indeed a very funny film, full of buoyancy and beautiful banter. Roger may not be the most pleasant of men, but his brand of twisted logic make his a wonderful person to watch. “Sex is everywhere,” he intones, “just waiting for us to reach out and grab it.” His opening speech about the fate of males can rival anything thrown out by that obnoxious grad student who corners you at a party. Scott is perfect in the role.
            The camera work is kind of dizzying. While the hand-held work, and use of placing the action in the background make us feel as if we’re living listening in on other peoples’ tables, it’s unclear at times. Otherwise, this is a witty and energetic little film.

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Published in: on May 4, 2009 at 9:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

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