Roger Dodger

Dir: Dylan Kidd
Starring: Campbell Scott, Jesse Eisenberg, Isabella Rossellini, Elizabeth Berkley

I usually have a low tolerance for movies in which characters sit around and pontificate about life, but there is something oddly engaging at work here. Roger (Scott) is an ad executive who likes to think he is god's gift to the female race; enter 16-year old nephew Nick (Eisenberg), who begs into his uncle's life for a night of lessons in love. Big mistake; Nick would probably be far better off reading Hustler, since Roger's worldview is simultaneously misogynist and misanthropic - "that's just spastic enough to be charming," mutters Roger about one facet of Nick's appearance. His techniques echo his opinion that advertising is all about making consumers feel miserable, then selling them something to fix that shortcoming. Ergo, make women feel lousy, and they'll leap into your arms.

Reality, of course, begs to differ, even when it comes in the shape of Berkley and Jennifer Beals, where Roger ends up as more a help than a hindrance [and he didn't even mention Showgirls...] With the hand-held camera, it feels almost like a documentary, although an obviously staged one, and director Kidd should have reined in some of writer Kidd's bigger excesses. Luckily, Scott turns what could have been an unpleasant central character into more of a brutally honest anti-hero. Roger's failures and faults may be plentiful, but are perhaps mostly a reflection of the daily lies and deceit to which we condition ourselves.


Sex and the city
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