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Roger Dodger is an entertaining little Indie film written and directed by first-timer Dylan Kidd. It tells the story of the title character (Campbell Scott) who got his nickname as a kid because he could talk himself out of any trouble. Now he is a fortyish Ad-man in New York who frequents the singles bars. He still has the gift of the gab but he has become cynical and bitter about his lonely life. The first scene of the movie shows Scott regaling a group of friends in a bar with a monologue about relationships. Roger Dodger is worth seeing just for this scene. Scott has just been dumped by his boss (Isabella Rossellini) with whom he was having an affair. He is about to head for the nearest single's bar when his 16-year-old nephew (Jesse Eisenberg) shows up wanting to learn at the feet of the master. They go out on the town with Scott showing his nephew the ropes at first reluctantly and then with vigor. They meet two women (Jennifer Beals & Elizabeth Berkley) and try to pick them up using the ploy that Scott and Eisenberg have a bet that Eisenberg will fall in love before the night is out.
The casting and the script of Roger Dodger are very interesting but the camera work will remind you of The Blair Witch Project or Dancer in the Dark. I was feeling a little nauseous by the end. The jiggling camera a la Dogme is meant to convey the unsettled psyche of Scott but I could get that without the upset stomach. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this film. The main two characters are both great. Scott, unlike his flashier parents (George C. Scott & Colleen Dewhurst), is a veteran Indie actor. I've liked him ever since I saw him in Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle. Newcomer Eisenberg is perfect as the naive but eager nephew. His sister in real life is the annoying singing kid from the Pepsi commercials. It was nice to see Jennifer Beals in a meatier role for a change. It's hard to believe that it's been almost 20 years since Flashdance came out. Elizabeth Berkley shows here that Showgirls was a bit of an aberration.
Scott's character in Roger Dodger has been in a death spiral for sometime but we get to see him hit bottom. His downward slide is shown in counterpoint to Eisenberg's climb upward. However, the script nicely avoids a typical Hollywood-style reformation and reclamation, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to Eisenberg's timely visit to see his Uncle. There is a very cute scene at the end of the film where Scott visits Eisenberg and his geek friends at high school back in Ohio. This is a four and a half bottle film but it lost half a bottle for the camerawork. But take some Dramamine and go see it. Roger Dodger is worth the bumpy ride.