Think of Roger Dodger as a less mean-spirited version of Your Friends and Neighbors. Roger Swanson (Campbell Scott) discusses evolution, male utilities and sexual Darwinism at the dinner table. He’s irritating because he loves to hear himself talk yet sad in that he allows himself to be victimized by the genuine power of his shit. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Roger Dodger is director Dylan Kidd’s suggestion that men and women understand each other more than they think but that they are truly incapable of applying this knowledge to real-life models without losing themselves in excess thought. Roger writes copy for an ad agency, crippling the consumer with guilt before enticing them with his products. When his 16-year-old nephew comes to town, Roger goes on a mission of mercy to help the young kid lose his virginity. Kidd has a particularly genuine ear for dialogue and while he’s mindful of the many rifts that separate genders, Roger Dodger fails to live up to the promise of the film’s first scene. Though Roger knows what he’s talking about, he comes to resemble a test case for Lamarkian evolution. Since Roger fails to change by film’s end, Roger Dodger is a whole lot of diarrhea of the mouth to go through for so little. If you can ignore Kidd’s woman’s study discourse there is still one mitigating factor. Standing on a city street, Roger gives the young Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) the low-down on ways to check out women. Kidd shoots them from across the street, forcing the spectator to make out pupil and teacher amid passing traffic. Curiously then, the film’s biggest asset is not Kidd’s caterwauling dialogue but his formal compositions. Jennifer Beals and Elizabeth Berkley come charging into the picture like bulls out of the Pamplona gates. While they’re deconstructing the male gaze at an upscale bar, Kidd makes sure to keep his frame constantly obscured by ferns and Berkley’s arm akimbo. Beals and Berkley even the stakes, leaving Nick tendered but Roger none the wiser. The film never really recovers from their sudden absence.
- Artisan Entertainment
- 104 min
- Dylan Kidd
- Dylan Kidd
- Campbell Scott, Jesse Eisenberg, Isabella Rossellini, Elizabeth Berkley, Jennifer Beals, Ben Shenkman, Mina Badie, Chris Stack
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