WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
An inexperienced teenager asks his extremely experienced uncle to teach him the ways of "making it" with the ladies. As the boys begin their prowl in a New York hot spot, the night takes a turn for the interesting when two sexy women join them for drinks. The guys up their ante by taking the next step outside the bar, as the uncle continues to pepper his willing pupil about what a man should be doing in order to entice the fairer sex. Sexual reparte ensues.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
A pretty solid character driven movie featuring two excellent lead performances, one showcasing the arrogant cockiness of one wonderful Campbell Scott, and another displaying the nervous, pimpled-faced teen skills of Jesse Eisenberg. In what can be easily be re-titled A PLAYER'S HANDBOOK TO SCORING WITH THE CHICKS, this flick puts you in the passenger's seat as the self-proclaimed grand-daddy of picking up women teaches his naive nephew about how to approach, entrance and ultimately, score with the ladies. But wait, you say that the film isn't as one-dimensional as one might suspect? That's right, there's a lot more here than meets the eye and if a handful of hilarious one-liners from Mr. Confidence don't raise your torpedoes, maybe the obvious subtext dealing with emotional detachment in the big city might do it. Either way, if an original piece with a number of memorable scenes, lines and characters is what you enjoy in your "movies of the week", be sure to pick up (hehehe...I crack myself up) the very independent ROGER DODGER, especially if you're a man or woman who is entertained by the sexual politics which underlie many of our day-to-day interactions.
On the downside, the film actually starts a little slowly and features a very annoying handheld camera, which despite offering a somewhat more "voyeuristic" feel to it all, ultimately distracts and makes you more conscious of the camera than you need to be. Considering that this is Mr. Dylan Kidd's first picture, this is forgivable, especially with what is easily one of the better dialogue-driven scripts of 2002. Another tiny plot device which bothered me was the fact that this 16-year old kid who had never drank before slammed 'em back like a champ during the whole evening, yet didn't seem all too drunk most of the time (not very realistic) Points should also go out to all the lovely ladies in the film, particularly Jennifer Beals, who instilled a level of depth into her character as well. But the greater kudos go out to Scott who takes Kidd's biting lines and turns his egotistical character into an oddly charming individual who ultimately learns his own lessons, but also keeps us entertained throughout. And oh yeah, the final shot of the film is priceless.
This disc features 2 different commentary tracks, one with the director Dylan Kidd and the director of photography Joaquin Baca-Asay, which is more technical and information-oriented and a second one with the director once more, but this time with actors Campbell Scott and Jesse Eisenberg. Kidd says that anyone listening to the tracks is likely to be a film "geek" right off the top, which immediately put the man into my good books. He's also a motormouth, an obvious film enthusiast and likes to give out a lot of information, so if you like the movie...you'll surely enjoy the tracks. The 2nd track with the stars is obviously less technical, with more jokes being tossed around among the gents (Scott is particularly funny with his dry wit). He apparently insisted on smoking in every scene (which the director didn't want), but I'm not sure if he was being serious or not when he said that. Great man. It's also to note that director Kidd apparently "stalked" actor Scott to get him to read his script. Fun times.
We also get a pretty cool Preface by the Director who gives us a quick two minutes about how he wanted to turn the extras section on his dvd into a little "film school in a box". If the filmmaking process interests you, this should as well. The Composer and the Mixer is a 7-minute "interview" (the director sits with them) with the two dudes who handled the music in this show. It's not your typical studio garbage and provides some background on how they came up with their musical inspirations, etc...The Producer is a 4-minute sitdown with the director and his producing partner who both provide some background on how they got together on this film. Being quite interested in this topic, I wanted even more information from them (how they got their financiers, what was their lucky break, etc...)
The Executive Producer and the Director is a 5-minute back-and-forth with the two men discussing what goes into the financial aspect of making an independent film. This was more interesting than the previous featurette, especially when the director explained the reasonings behind his "shaky cam" effect (although I still don't think it was the right decision). Examination of a Scene: Opaline is an 11-minute look at one specific scene in which all of the "little people" from the production join in with a few words including the casting agent, the costume directors, the art designer, etc.... No real "behind the scenes" shots from the actual production, but a lot of convos about the sequence. A decent extra. The "New York at Night: Walking Tour" with star Jesse Eisenberg was pretty lame though. I was actually looking forward to seeing some of these spots and their backgrounds, but all I got instead was 7 minutes of Eisenberg and his buddy making stupid jokes and passing by some of the spots. A bad extra. The trailer is also tossed in for fun. Incidentally, what was especially cool about all these interviews was that they took place in a bar. Mmmmmmm, baaaaaar....
A solid independent movie featuring an awesome performance by Campbell Scott, along with a solid turn by the kid, as well as interesting secondary characters. The film is not for everyone with very little plot and more dialogue and character moments than anything, but I had a fun time with this guy. If you like the idea behind SWINGERS, you will surely enjoy this piece as well. The extras are also quite loaded for a "smaller" film as such, and props go out to the filmmakers for sharing some of their own movie process moments with us. For anyone who is interested in the film, the extras should also provide you with even more insight. A solid rental and a buy from anyone who digs it.