Monday, March 08, 2010

"Roger Dodger" (2002) - Movie Review

Male ego has never felt better and has never felt so bad. That is “Roger Dodger”, a tutor, a jerk, a master, a Zen and a pathetic human being. Campbell Scott is Roger, an ad man with an expertise to word fence anyone, anytime, anywhere. He would take the pleasure in killing with his highly attuned verbal and social skills that he will make you appreciate while doing it. Men are scared of him, women are more scared of him though viciously attracted. He is the fantasy we want to be and the debacle we know it will be. He is THE man and he is damn good at it.

Writer/Director Dylan Kidd in his debut makes such a striking film that it is so sad this did not get the attention at its time of release. A character study which does not become this entertainment factor on the rather unflinching victory over the opposite sex comes to terms predictably but without bowing his head. He is among the smokes and liquids in a blue tinted bar and people to watch. He simply denigrates women and then does so beautifully that he makes it a fact. A fact in which the women become this subdued powerful beings and the male the high powered utility machine soon to be eliminated by the scientific advancement. This is fireworks.

Roger is living the city life and is sleeping with his boss Joyce (Isabella Rossellini). Joyce is done with her boy toy and Roger goes to office dejected yet high on cockiness. His way of dealing with this is ferocious, almost ready to be self destructing when his nephew Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) shows up unannounced at his office to slow down this process. Nick, a sixteen year old high school kid has learned a lot about his uncle through his mother whom Roger never speaks. Nick is sexually frustrated, curious, angered and what not one would see in a teenage boy and asks help. If these sequence of events does not make sense, you know what, forget about it. Go with the flow and you will be left with a ride and a night that cannot be forgotten.

In the city that seems to be glowing and dooming, New York is in scenes and the presence is the mood to this film. Roger begins this lesson in seduction to his nephew from Friday evening 7’o clock. There is a complete day’s work of time left to rumble in the jungle and get the hunt and make a man out of Nick as Roger would think. Nick is the sweet kid but has the gene. Much can be judged about Roger’s dad and Nick’s impulse in coming up with stuffs when the situation demands. These three men are gifted by this impulse while Roger has mastered it and Nick is ready to be groomed.

Roger takes on right away with two beautiful young woman Andrea (Elizabeth Berkley) and Sophie (Jennifer Beals) in a bar. Both are lured in and want to be lured into this known game of games. Nick is the naive kid aspiring to grow up before he wants to. They discuss the very same game of men with sense of humour and the need for the motorcycle guys. Both of these men the women drool on with a different sense of respect. It is funny to watch the irony as it gets proven and performed.

“Roger Dodger” does not make it a happy ride as this adrenaline control freak of a man tips over the cliff and takes his nephew along with it. As this teachings begin to appear fruitful, memorable and entertaining, it takes a deep dive into this merciless man and the situation goes far enough to be cruel and ugly. That is the boldness Dylan Kidd who takes on something daring and honest which begins as this satiric comedy.

It is a film on male’s quest to get a pass through the gate keepers of the sex, females. They need to be tricked, bullied, humiliated, sweetened, cuddled, cared, caressed and kissed. All this are known to them as they keep the cards close to their hearts. Why is this have to be such a riddle? Why cannot that simple communication be plain, upfront and right to the point? The clubs, pubs and bars are filled with land mines where a misstep results in an embarrassing, humiliating and failing moment in front of this whole world, or at least that is how the brain makes it think. Nobody is watching except themselves and the unabashed ego. Roger knows it and he uses it as a weapon than to be the wise man. It is success at its best and makes him the ultimate controller but failure is not an option. He hits that and thus propels “Roger Dodger”, a movie studying the psychology of the men, women and the chemistry between them but more than it is the man himself. Dodging is not an option for him this time around.

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