Roger Dodger (2002)


Damn…sex is everywhere.

Roger (Campbell Scott) is a hopelessly cynical advertising copywriter with a razor-sharp wit who believes he’s mastered the art of manipulating women. But Roger’s seemingly foolproof methods unravel when he tries to school his teenage nephew (Jesse Eisenberg) in his techniques. Smooth talk and casual sex used to work fine, but now it seems he’s got a lot to learn about women.

I’m always a fan of films that have a lot of insight on the world we live in, people, and how they all function. So with this film actually stinging around on my drawer for quite some time now, I thought what better way to see more insight.

The writing here is absolutely amazing which is a lot of thanks to first-time writer and director, Dylan Kidd. Kidd keeps this film moving with a lot of snappy dialogue that is sure to make you laugh and just thing some more about the relationship that men and women have between us, especially when it comes to sex.

Kidd brings a lot of actual frank conversations that have a certain bit of wit to it and keep us glued as every line pours out of these characters as if it were almost actual real-life conversations I was just hearing. You can almost start to feel like Kidd himself is channeling conversations that normal, every-day people have and with his constant smart witty banter that these two get involved with, you can only wish that you have conversations like these one of these days. It’s not as funny as it is smart and that is something that I can appreciate any day.

Kidd also gave me the real-life feeling with the way he films this all because he keeps the pace rapid and moving, while also keeping the camera following these two dudes wherever it is they go for the night. I actually felt like I was here with these guys of their night on the prowl.

However, my problem with this film is that I feel like Kidd gets a little bit lost with this material right around the last 20 minutes where he starts to aim for fluffy cheesiness rather than the actual grimness that this subject material may actually bring about. I don’t want to give away too much here but there was this one still shot that I think the film should have originally ended up with instead of just doing something else that I was not wanting at all, but instead, I got.

Campbell Scott has always been someone I have enjoyed no matter what he’s in but he finally lets all of those acting skills out in a total, tour-de-force performance here as the totally vain but sophisticated, Roger. This guy sees the world through his own two eye’s right through the lens of sex. Scott is nothing more than just electrifying, giving all of his might into every line of dialogue that comes out of his mouth, which is sometimes nasty, mean, strange, and sometimes just plain embarrassing. However, either way you look at it, this is a guy who knows what he’s talking about even if his ego does get a bit in the way of things. It’s still a surprise why this guy doesn’t have more roles.

Jesse Eisenberg came into the spot-light with this role at just age 19 playing Roger’s nephew, Nick. Eisenberg is the total opposite compared to Roger; he’s sweet, nice, eager to learn, and cares a lot, which provides some great scenes where these two just talk it out like men about what they know about women, and what they don’t. Eisenberg is still great in this role even though it’s the same one he has always been playing and it’s just great to see him play such a meaty role at such an early age. The gals in this cast are played Jennifer Beals, Elizabeth Berkley, and Isabella Rosselini, who are all good with their times on-screen.

Consensus: Although the direction from writer-director Dylan Kidd may get lost by about the last 15 to 20 minutes, Roger Dodger still has a totally hilarious, insightful, and altogether smart screenplay with great performances from the cast, especially Scott who is just mesmerizing, that makes this film a great commentary on the world we live in, which is basically all about sex.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

12 comments

  1. I love this film. It’s the film that introduced me to Jesse Eisenberg.

    I love the fact that it’s about a guy trying to teach some awkward kid how to score chicks. The last scene for me is awesome including that ending. It’s just a great debut film. I wonder what happened to Dylan Kidd. He made a good follow called P.S. with Laura Linney and Topher Grace and then… nothing happened.

    • I don’t know where he went but if he could do something else a long the lines of this one, he would make a total killing. Thanks Steve! Nice layout btw.

  2. Love everything about this movie. If it had gotten the proper, larger audience it deserved, Campbell Scott would’ve been a serious contender for Oscar consideration.

    Funny anecdote about how this flick got made: a millionaire called Scott and said he loved his work and would produce whatever script he wanted to make next. Glad this was the result. One of the best, most sardonic contemporary films I’ve seen.

  3. Colin is right, I love Roger Dodger, and I do my best to spread the word. Since you enjoyed it, I’d recommend The Vicious Kind (2009)
    I haven’t seen a bad review of Roger Dodger in the blogosphere so far. As you say, the dialogue was very well-written, performances great, the opening scene round-table reminds me of Reservoir Dogs.

  4. I saw this in a theater during college with a couple of my roommates. The most neurotic of them leaned over about fifteen minutes in and whispered in my ear, harshly, “I THOUGHT YOU SAID THIS WAS A COMEDY.”

    Roger Dodger since that moment has been a punchline over here. Not that it’s not a great flick.

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