Rodger Dodger

March 6th, 2003 Film, Film Reviews, Xpress

Starring: Campbell Scott, Jesse Eisenberg, Isabella Rosselini, Jennifer Beals, Elizabeth Berkley

Directed & Written by Dylan Kidd

A note to film makers and TV producers everywhere — there is nothing new you can bring to the battle of the sexes ‘debate’.

From Friends and Men Behaving Badly to most Hollywood love stories, the message we get about men and women is the same. Men are immature, single-minded sexual predators not the least interested in anything but getting laid — by shrewd deceit if necessary. And women are the responsible, intellectually superior, long suffering creatures who have to put up with them.

Sadly, Roger Dodger is no different. You can see the cliched characters (and their various fates) a mile away.

Advertising copywriter Roger (Scott) is smart, quick witted and manipulative, fancying himself a modern stud in his ability to con chicks into bed.

When being dumped by his boss and lover Joyce (Rosselini) coincides with his 16 year old nephew Nick (Eisenberg) arriving for an overnight visit asking to be schooled in the ways of seduction, Roger’s shattered ego can’t help but accept.

What follows is a triad of increasingly desperate acts as Roger tries to pull on Nick’s behalf to show him how it’s done. First they pick up two friends, Andrea and Sophie (played by a still gorgeous Jennifer Beals and Elizabeth Showgirls Berkley). Then they crash an exclusive party given by Joyce — and ruin it, because of Roger’s jealousy and bitterness.

Finally, they end up in a seedy brothel which is literally in the gutter, until both men come to realise the truths that would have been as plain as the noses on their faces if they’d been in the real world.

The whole thing is a string of convoluted happenstance that is clever and funny in parts but worlds away from how people really act and how men and women really are.

A feelgood ending doesn’t rescue characters you’ve found a hard time caring for in the first place and you wonder what ‘moral of the story’ (all of which are obvious in reality) we’re being preached to about.

The film has some great talent, both performing and filmmaking. The shoot is almost a documentary style, giving it an arthouse edge that helps, and Scott has a charisma that commands attention in every scene. TV star and newcomer Eisenberg also holds his own against some great actors, but when all’s said and done, a lot of ability is wasted on Men are From Mars, Women and From Venus tosh.

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