Perhaps if only I were as suave and witty as Roger Swanson (played by the impeccable Campbell Scott) when it comes to interacting with the ladies, my non-existent love-life could invariably take a turn for the better. He’s a smooth talker who is exceptionally gifted when it comes to understanding the female psyche which has obviously allowed for him much success in bedding women on a regular basis. His intellectual charm and good looks come off may come off as a bit smug but that doesn’t stop women from falling for him. Roger has even managed to start a sexual fling with his boss (Isabella Rossellini) except when she decides to call it off to avoid any future interference with their work; he doesn’t take the break-up all too well. Enter nephew Nick (Jesse Eisenberg), a 16 year old who shows up at his office and is interested in learning from his uncle the tricks of the trade when it comes to dating.
Roger agrees to help Nick with his women problems and propels him into a crash collision course of dating. First time director Dylan Kidd who also wrote the script isn’t interested so much in whether his two protagonist’s get the girl in the end but is more intent on exploring the battle of the sexes and the difficulties of dating in a chaotic urban society. Kidd doesn’t paint Roger as a saint like-figure. He is a pompous jerk and his motives are a tad bit sketchy. Spending time with his nephew allows him to realize the error of his ways and that there’s more to relationships than just getting a good screw off.
For a film that is very dialogue heavy, the actors involved need to compliment the sharp and clever script which they do so in spades. Campbell Scott personally gives one of my favorite performances of 2002 through his outstanding delivery of speech and his uncanny ability to dominate each and every scene. His character may be a selfish and deceiving individual but Scott is able to portray him in such sympathetic light (not an easy task). Sure, he may bed a different woman every other night but deep down, Roger is a miserable lonely person who is sick of the dating game. Scott does such an excellent job of subtly depicting his character’s self-loathing for his lifestyle and the contradictions that arise in his attempt to help Nick become even more poignant. Eisenberg and the rest of the supporting cast are solid but this is primarily Campbell Scott’s film and he makes sure that his presence is known.