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Set against the bright lights of Manhattan, a tale which takes a comic, urbane look at the modern male ego at war in the singles scene trenches. Roger Swanson is a hopelessly cynical advertising copywriter with a razor-sharp wit who believes he has mastered the art of manipulating women. But Roger's seemingly foolproof world of smooth talk and casual sex begins to unravel when he is paid a surprise visit by his teenager nephew, Nick. Hoping to settle, once and for all, the issue of his virginity, Nick begs Roger to school him in the art of seducing women. Welcoming the challenge, Roger guides Nick through the city's wild nightlife for an all-night crash course, only to realize that he--the adult--still has something to learn about what women, and men, really want. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Roger Swanson (Campbell Scott) scores every night, he likes to say. However, he has a breakup with his boss and lover (well, duh ) Joyce (Isabella Rossellini), and his 16-year-old nephew Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) shows up, saying that he was looking at colleges in the New York area and decided to give his favorite Uncle Roger a visit. Roger talks a mile a minute, very suave like, and decides to take Nick out on the town in search of sex, which, he claims, is `everywhere'.
A fine, inventive movie, with good acting by the leads. Not many movies would dare to go out on a limb, and this isn't a Hollywood movie (it's distributed by Artisan), but those who have seen it have enjoyed it. Its script, by director Dylan Kidd, is often funny, and could go as Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask Part 2, since Nick is basically naïve and oblivious. However, the script leads into the first problem I would like to talk about.
Although funny at many times, during the many lulls, the drama, which is supposed to ensue, doesn't ensue. I didn't feel touched or sympathetic or anything during the `dramatic' sequences, especially during the end, but at least it goes back to comedy, with the fate of Roger and Nick. The script has many laugh-out-loud moments, however. I love the first scene, where Roger is talking to Joyce, Donovan (Ben Shenkman), and Donna (Mina Badie) at the restaurant, and he's going on all about Darwin and evolution, and the eventual fate of the genders. This is a good introduction to Roger: lots of talk, but he can't back it up, and you can tell he has now idea what in the world he is actually saying.
Scott won a few awards for his performance in Roger Dodger, which I can understand. He totally got into his role, and at times it didn't seem like he was acting, everything was coming naturally to him. An example of that is when he's talking to Nick about different ways to look at women (which is about a 10 minute take), he just keeps on talking and talking like it wasn't scripted. I could almost hear the director laughing in the background. I hope that this bounces his career more, because he is a great actor. Eisenberg was also very good as the nervous teen, he also seemed to know what he was doing.
Another point I really liked was the music. It was crystalline, and it sounded solid, which is probably symbolism for Roger: he thinks he's solid with the women, but he really has as much to learn as the student. He thinks that he knows everything that's there, but he doesn't really, and he figures that out throughout the movie. To be forewarned is to be forearmed, so here I go: if you're a feminist or against sexism, this isn't really your movie. Roger's view of women won't appeal to those, but he does talk about that the female sex will eventually rule the earth and men will be their slave (aren't they already?). If you don't mind, though, it's a very good movie that may not deserve all of the acclaim it's getting but is still better than most of the Hollywood drek that's out now.
My rating: 7/10
Rated R for sexuality and language.
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