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Roger Dodger (R)
Artisan Entertainment
Director: Dylan Kidd
Producers: Anne Chaisson, Dylan Kidd, George VanBuskirk
Written by: Dylan Kidd
Cast: Campbell Scott, Jesse Eisenberg, Isabella Rossellini, Jennifer Beals, Elizabeth Berkley

Rating: out of 5

Campbell Scott reaches deep down into his reliable bag of tricks and comes up with a winner in Roger Dodger, an entertaining look at the cynicism that envelops modern love.

Scott plays the titular character, a charming ad exec who is seemingly lucky in love—that is, until he meets Joyce (Rossellini), an older woman who breaks his heart (and his fragile male ego).

When Roger’s nephew Nick (Eisenberg) comes to New York, and asks his uncle for advice about the fairer sex, Roger seizes the opportunity to infuse Nick with the same cynicism he himself possesses. However, Nick proves that his idealistic outlook is far more successful with the ladies, and a much better way to approach life. By the end, Roger is the one who walks away with a lesson he will never forget.

Roger Dodger could simply have been a retread of In the Company of Men, but it is less about the competitiveness of the workplace, and more about the evolution of male attitudes toward love and sex. The film proves much more optimistic than Neil LaBute’s breakout modern-day masterpiece, which may not be true to life, but proves a charming cinematic experience nonetheless.

Much of the charm lies in the performances, especially by Scott’s and Eisenberg’s, whose polar-opposite characters form a combative, though loving, relationship. Scott is always a reliable performer, and here he outdoes himself, rattling off lines at breakneck speed, while occasionally stopping to give a mournful stare—he reminds us that words are often the only things we have to mask our pain.

Roger Dodger is writer/director Dylan Kidd’s debut film, and he proves that he has the potential to be a major talent. Like LaBute, he has his finger on the pulse of modern day corporate relationships, as well as retaining a childlike sense of wonder about the world. This translates into the film itself, forcing it to fall in a rather awkward, but interesting, genre: dystopian idealism.

—Erin Steele


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