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Film / Roger Dodger

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"There are millions of women in this city, Nick. Millions."

"Sex is Everywhere."
Roger Swanson

A 2002 comedy-drama film written and directed by Dylan Kidd, starring Campbell Scott and Jesse Eisenberg.

Roger Swanson (Scott) is a smooth-talking Madison Avenue copywriter, with an uncanny ability to cold-read people. When he isn't applying his skill by reminding consumers that "they're missing something from their lives" and that his client's product is "the only thing that can fill the void", he will be applying it to women in bars. Despite his ability, Roger's cynicism and downright insulting characterizations of the women around him are a turn-off, such that he is Hoist by His Own Petard.

Roger's nephew, Nick (Eisenberg), is visiting New York scouting universities and pays his uncle a visit. While out to lunch, Nick confesses that he doesn't have a girlfriend and finds it difficult to talk to girls. Within the family, Roger is known as a ladies' man, so Nick asks his uncle for help. Roger's offer ("So, you need help with the ladies, Nick?") becomes the premise of the film.

Tropes featured include:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Discussed by the main characters, wherein Roger is able to extract a confession from Andrea that for her this principle is actually true.
    Roger: Ask any woman, "What's the single most attractive quality a man can possess?" And what do they invariably answer? "Sense of humor."... And yet, if two lean, mean, play-by-their-own-rules... motorcycle-riding men strolled up to this booth... and beat the shit out of us two humorous guys, right, and asked you out for a ride, you would be weak at the knees.
    Andrea: Well, actually, guys who ride cycles are pretty sexy.
    • Subverted with Roger, however; while he's unquestionably an asshole, he fails to get anywhere with her.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Prevented.
    Sophie: Don't spoil the wonderful time we had tonight.
  • Beneath the Mask: Roger deliberately presents himself as a smart, cool, cynically detached Handsome Lech. As the film progresses, he's shown to be lonely, insecure and emotionally unfulfilled. His tactics with women range from mildly unpleasant to downright creepy. Even his romantic success is clearly exaggerated.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: An unusual example, as Roger puts Nick in 'danger' in the first place..
  • Crazy-Prepared: Nick wears a medic alert bracelet with instructions to have him cryogenically frozen in case of premature death.
    Roger: All right. Leave it. It's spastic enough to be charming.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: Roger's message for Donovan.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The film opens with Roger and his colleagues eating lunch together, talking about gender, sex and natural selection. Roger argues that women in modern society have no need of men, and that men's only saving grace is that women haven't figured that out yet.
  • Female Gaze: Discussed (sarcastically) by the characters.
  • Gretzky Has the Ball: Played for laughs
    Roger: Why give in to a slump? Let's go down swinging.
    Nick: Yes. Like Michael Jordan.
    Roger: Right. That's the wrong sport, but I like your enthusiasm.
  • Handsome Lech: Roger, not that it gets him very far.
  • In Da Club: Subverted; the duo must sneak in and hide behind foliage.
  • Inherently Funny Words: Roger and his work colleagues muse over what might be the plural of "clitoris".
    Roger: Future generations of women will evolve clitorises... clitori... clitorati...?
    Joyce: Clitorissimo.
  • Jerkass: Roger. Turned up to 11 when he becomes jealous that Nick is more appealing to Andrea and Sophie than himself, and when he leaves Nick to sleep with his colleague so drunk she soon passes out and again when he leaves an intentionally crude message for Donovan on Joyce's mirror.
  • Male Gaze: Discussed by the characters
  • Motor Mouth: Roger
  • Sensei for Scoundrels: Roger. He may simply be an Evil Mentor.
  • Shy Bladder: Nick
  • Smoking Is Cool: Roger
  • Title Drop: By Nick.
    Nick: My mom says that when Roger was little, he could talk himself out of anything. He never got in trouble, even when he got caught. She called him "Roger Dodger".
  • Urban Legend Love Life: Roger
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Nick, as Roger does not hesitate to ruin the romance between Nick and Sophie when he finds Andrea has no interest in him, and his 'I'm secretly married' shtick falls flat.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Established as the premise of the film, but ultimately averted, as the Aesop becomes "family is paramount".