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Roger Dodger
Alex Grant Review

Starring Campbell Scott, Jesse Eisenberg, Isabella Rossellini, Elizabeth Berkley, Jennifer Beals, Mina Badie
Director(s) Dylan Kidd
Screenwriter(s) Dylan Kidd
Studio Artisan Entertainment Production Company Holedigger Films

There are few more alarming or unprepossessing sights than that of an adult male predator at bay. On the vegetarian front countless Scottish oil paintings have captured the distressed Monarch of the Glen on his last legs his mouth blood-flecked at the mercy of a back of baying hounds, his trembling flanks and hind-quarters up against the wall of a precipitous cliff, his antlers proudly aloft and erect. Hot-shot urbane advertising copy-writer and cynical boulevardier Roger Swanson (Campbell Scott ) has been dumped by his ageing lover Joyce ( Isabella Rossellini ) also his boss at the ad-agency. She no longer can withstand the ambiguous hectoring of her "boy-toy", having committed the cardinal sin of finding intra-office romance.Totally unprepared, as the arrogant trespasser upon her cabbage patch, to take NO for an answer – ‘ no ‘ has never ever before meant "no" to our over-confident Lothario/Casanova – Roger sinks into a deep-dish hissy-fit.

Fittingly Roger finds on his loft’s doorstep his lovelorn 16-year-old nephew from Ohio Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) eager to have his cool-guy ladies’ man uncle lead him swiftly to every teenager’s Holy Grail – the loss of his virginity preferably to an older, experienced woman. In a perfect world, and in a far less troubling film than Dylan Kidd’s writer-director debut ROGER DODGER, the kid would teach Roger to ratchet down his narcissistic nastiness and Nick would bask in the benefits of life-enhancing lessons from dear Uncle Rog. NOT!! Roger instinctually humiliates Nick at every turn of their nocturnal procession in quest of s-e-x….

Roger earned his nickname "Dodger" due to his smooth skills at entirely eluding the moral consequences of his naughty shenanigans by sweet-talking his elders. Such skin-deep surface charm and ingenuous ingratiation have become compulsive. They are Roger’s 'Achilles’ Heel(s)'
Now the ‘adult’ Roger talks himself into trouble, not out of it, non-stop. Entirely impervious to the hostility his extravagant self-promotion incites in others Roger is almost on the cusp of being crippled by his tragic pursuit of ‘playboy’ perfection. But he swiftly recovers his poisonous poseur poise.

Briefly suffering a sort of shallow chagrin after he totally bungles and botches his acid-etched ‘sentimental education’ of his naïve, nervous nephew Roger emerges from his unaccustomed introspection no less full of himself than he was when we first met him pontificating to his colleagues about the inevitable inutility of males per se once they’re replaced by a biologically enhanced "clitoral" mistress-race hegemony. Males reduced to being hewers of wood and carriers of water – heavy-lifting.
Like Wayne Wang’s THE CENTER OF THE WORLD ( 2001 ) and Peter Haenke’s THE PIANO TEACHER ( 2001 ) Dylan Kidd’s devastating debut ROGER DODGER disconcerts and entertains wildly in rapid-fire succession. It pinpoints the tawdry tactics of a front-line warrior run amok in The Battle of the Sexes.

© Alex Grant
November 2002

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