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Roger Dodger
Wrt. /Dir: Dylan Kidd
Starring: Campbell Scott, Jesse Eisenberg, Jennifer Beals,
Elizabeth Berkley, Isabella Rossellini
Opens October 25th

Critic in Exile Finds Solace in Sex

Who knew that George Lucas had so much sway in Hollywood? Sure, he directed a couple of movies that did reasonably well, but that was way back in the eighties for chrsitsakes! And who would have thought that he would take my demand that he be summarily executed so seriously. I mean where's the sense of humor and forgiving love that Hollywood is so famous for? Did he really have to get me axed from every major studio's press screening distribution list? And who would have thought that my raging addiction to heroine would have gotten so out of hand that I'm completely out of money to pay for movies myself these days? Life sure is funny, huh?

The only PR companies still letting me come to their movies are promoting those tiny little indie flicks. The ones that generally involve a heavy dose of Parker Posey and some vague story about an art school student trying to find meaning to his angsty, pathetic (but well-to-do) NYU existence. Don't get me wrong Parker Posey is awesome, but I've seen so many of these movies, I'm actually starting to enjoy black coffee and poetry readings. I'm physically worried that my mother is going to buy me a beret for Christmas.

That's why I'm starting the National Association for Reckless Critics (NARC). A not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing those critics idiotic enough to get hooked on drugs and piss of everyone in Hollywood with funding so that they can continue to see the Tom Cruises and Gwyneth Paltrows in all of their stadium seated splendor.

I swear that no more than 85 cents out of each dollar contributed will go towards sweet, sweet heroine. The rest will be used solely and exclusively to help the needy get back to the movies you all are so desperate for them to review. Ten cents of the remaining Fifteen will be placed in an aggressive mutual fund with which shall be used to bribe our way back into the hearts of Lucas and other victims of the criticatorial arts. The remaining five cents will go into my personal bank account and I swear I'll start buying movie tickets with it once I get out of debt.

Think of it! For every two hundred dollars you give to the NARC fund, you'll get one more fascinating review to peruse and enjoy. It's exactly like giving to your local NPR station, but with much less radio, and tons more drugs.

In the mean time you'll all have to just deal with reviews of movies that will only be out for a week or so. For Example, Campbell Scott's latest: Roger Dodger.


The Pros

This is a very simple, very intelligent movie. Roger (Scott) is waylaid by his 16-year-old Nephew (Eisenberg) who is desperate to lose is virginity.

HEY! Get your mind out of that there gutter!

Roger, well known as a sexist but sly hot chick electro-magnet, endeavors to show the adorable peach fuzzed lad the in's and out's of the art of seduction. It's a movie that could easily dip into something far too raucous and Porky's-esque, or fall as flat as… say Molly Ringwald's breasts in Sixteen Candles. But it is neither a cheesy diatribe on love nor an idiotic teenage sex romp. It is, instead, witty and cavalier, being truly clever while never taking itself too seriously.

The acting is fabulous. Scott as always disappears into his role and delivers magic. Eisenberg is the perfectly nervous sixteen-year-old-- shy and clever in equal proportions. Elizabeth Berkley and Jennifer Beals defied all odds and blow their roles out of the water. Isabella Rossellini is, of course, still stunningly beautiful and she delivers Joyce as wonderfully sharp as ever. Nearly everyone is this movie delivers a perfect performance. Scott and Eisenberg, both as actors and as their characters, interact well. They speak as though they are actually related, having the same sharp fast clip to their voices.

The Music, by Craig Wedren, stands out well, sets the mood of every scene, and moves the movie along with a perfect pace. The humor of the movie is almost exactly the same as the humor of Scott's character. It is very dry, and very biting; this works better for the movie than it does for the character and it shows a slight lack of inspiration on the part of the writing. But that's a minor offense. The humor is clever and well timed and far out shines it's shortcomings.

One of the most amazing aspects of this movie is just how desperately you want Nick to score. Not because you feel bad for the 'poor little virgin' or anything, more because Nick acts almost like an Everyman. Likewise it's amazing how unsure you are that he actually will succeed. One doesn't usually find tension in a movie like this, but it's peppered deliciously throughout.

The Cons

This is a talking head movie. And there's really only one head that's talking most of the time. Roger. While Scott does a phenomenal job with the sexist outdated playboy, the character steps too far outside of believability. It's simply impossible for one man to say so many clever biting and borderline insulting comments to so many women without getting at least a little mace. Also, as the movie progresses, Roger begins to lose his suavity a little too quickly. This character, who is supposed to be perfect at enticing women, only ever seems to fall on his ass while trying. If there had been an ounce of charisma to Roger, and something of an effect on the ladies, then there would have been much less to balk at.

On a slightly more terrifying note, Jesse Eisenberg is the brother of Hallie Eisenberg.... That dreaded Pepsi Girl. I'm just not sure that family deserves any accolades or attention after what she has subjected us to.


The Ratings

Sexism: Two barefoot housewives cooking my dinner
While Isabella Rossellini shines, Roger doesn't hold any punched when it comes to how he feels about women. But if you want to see some real sexist language, watch the beginning of Below and count the number of derogatory phrases they have for women (may favorite was Brillo Pad!)

Acting: Four Dames Judi Dench
The entire cast is wonderful. Despite the focus on Nick and Roger's characters, all of the actors give it everything they have. It's truly an ensemble performance of the highest caliber.

Bringing the Dead Back To Life: Two Zombies
Berkley and Beals both give very solid performances after years and years of anonymity. You don't get to see Berkeley's coochie, however, and Beals, unfortunately, doesn't dance, or weld anything together.

Overall: Three glorious weeks
That's about how long it should run. I doubt it will get a very wide release, but while it's in the city, go see it. This is an excellent movie, definitely worth the time. And who knows you might just pick up a few pointers on scoring with women.

 



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