One You Might've Missed #10: Roger Dodger


by: Nathan Swank

Finding diamonds in the rough is a wonderful feeling, but in order to do so, you usually have to watch a lot of bad movies. takes the pain away by recommending a movie that you may have never heard of, or missed when it first came out.

Roger Dodger speaks to the heart of any single male. For the most part, it’s a little eye opener or education of just what is deep inside all of us males, some just let our raw jerkiness shine a little more than others to get that girl. You might call it a How To Hunt Women Survival Book.

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Roger Swanson (Campbell Scott) is an advertising copywriter but he would describe himself as someone who reminds consumers how fat and unattractive they are, so they feel bad enough to buy unnecessary stupid looking crap in order to fill the void in their lives. His singlehood and womanizing appearance prompts his teenage nephew, Nick (Jesse Eisenberg), to show up at his work asking for woman help. Roger reluctantly accepts the challenge, teaching him how to speak, spy on and approach women. He pin points insecurities on all people and hones in on them, all while masking his own vulnerability and weaknesses. Our characters do grow, learning more about themselves and our lead really isn’t as bad as you may think. There are redeeming qualities underneath this conceited macho exterior.

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Campbell Scott has always been an under-appreciated favorite of mine in SINGLES, DYING YOUNG, THE SECRET LIVES OF DENTIST and THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE. Scott tends to gravitate to smaller independent films and ROGER DODGER is my favorite performance of his to date. He embodies the cocky coolness that all males wish to emulate and all females say they hate. I use the word “say” because even though they may hate the guy they are usually attracted to him. Don’t get me wrong I hate cocky jerks but when they are exploiting cocky stupid people, then I somehow find a soft spot for them. Wow, I probably need to back pedal because I may not be coming off too well in this review. But that is the affect Roger has on people. I assure you, you will be laughing at his antics and wishing you could handle situations the way he does rather than judging him. Scott has made this detestable character actually likable with his quick wit and verbally crushing truths. Jesse Eisenberg also performs his best work in his film-acting debut as the horny nervous nephew. He gives the perfect tone as the sweet awkward teenager to contrast Rogers’s egocentric confidence.

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The direction from Dylan Kidd is pretty impressive for a newcomer, specifically, inside a club where Nick is obviously too young to be in. The filming is very voyeuristic as our leads hide out in a booth and strike a very naturally yet completely interesting and funny conversation with a couple of beautiful women (Jennifer Beals, Elizabeth Berkley). The shots are hand held and stay close to our subjects but keep you fully aware of the atmosphere. It’s like the audience is sitting near the table eaves dropping and it’s a far more interesting conversation at their table than at yours.

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Ultimately, the film does expose the holes in the bad guy attitude and for the record, I consider myself a good guy, but the idea of being Roger does seem like a fun time. The city is the jungle. The women are the game. The hunt is on.

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