|Directed by||Dylan Kidd|
|Produced by||Campbell Scott|
|Written by||Dylan Kidd|
|Music by||Craig Wedren|
|Editing by||Andy Keir|
|Distributed by||Artisan Entertainment|
|Release date(s)||May 9, 2002 (Tribeca Film Festival)
October 25, 2002
|Running time||106 minutes|
|Gross revenue||$1.9 million|
Roger Dodger is a 2002 comedy noir that explores the relationship between men, women, and sex. Directed by Dylan Kidd and starring Campbell Scott and Jesse Eisenberg, the film follows Roger Swanson (Scott) and his nephew (Eisenberg) during a night on the town in search of sex.
After cynical New York advertising copywriter Roger Swanson (Campbell Scott) is dumped by his on-again/off-again girlfriend, Joyce (Isabella Rossellini) — who is also his boss — his painful workday is further complicated by the unexpected arrival of his 16-year-old nephew, Nick (Jesse Eisenberg). After asking to spend the night at Roger's, Nick reveals that he has come to ask for help—in hopes of ditching his virginal status, Nick begs Roger for a lesson in the art of seduction. Embittered Roger then takes on the role of a nocturnal drill sergeant in an imaginary war between the sexes, starting Nick's training at an upscale singles bar. There they meet two beautiful women (Jennifer Beals and Elizabeth Berkley) who turn out to be less malleable than Roger expects.
Although this first attempt to seduce women is unsuccessful, Nick chooses to continue the quest, which takes them to a party at Joyce's. There they find Joyce's secretary drunk and attempt to capitalize. Once in the bedroom Nick's conscience gets the better of him and he allows her to fall asleep untouched.
With Roger spinning out of control and Nick's window of opportunity closing rapidly, they agree to go with the "Fail Safe" plan. This turns out to be an underground brothel. At the underground location Roger finds he cannot let Nick lose his virginity in such an emotionally barren atmosphere, and drags him back to his apartment to sleep things off. Roger has failed to introduce his nephew to the mysteries of the world, but has perhaps gained a glimmer of a conscience. Nick travels back to Ohio but Roger shows up unexpectedly to tutor Nick and his classmates on their home turf, bonding with the younger man in a more potent way in an atmosphere populated by adolescent peers.
At the closing, it is left open which way Roger will go. The dialogue at the end of the film is a delicious tease; has he changed, or merely become a better manipulator?
The film was not a major commercial success, but was critically well-received, winning multiple awards in 2002 and 2003. It also served as the coming-out for Jesse Eisenberg, who was widely acclaimed for his conflicted performance.
On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 88% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 122 reviews. On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 75 out of 100, based on 33 reviews.