Tadpole

"Good"

Tadpole Review


Home from boarding school for Thanksgiving holiday with unruly hormones and a festering Oedipal jones for his 40-something stepmom, idiosyncratic 15-year-old Manhattan sophisticate Oscar Grubman is having a hard time coping with life.

Versed in the classics, a voracious reader of Voltaire, fluent in French and tortured by his own high expectations, he doesn't have much use for girls his own age -- even the ones that like him. But as he waits impatiently for some elusive perfect moment to reveal his desires to Dad's wife (Sigounrey Weaver), Oscar gets a little drunk one night and goes to bed with her lusty best friend (Bebe Neuwirth) instead.

Such is the framework for "Tadpole," the enticingly tart, oddball coming-of-age comedy that won helmer Gary Winick the Director's Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

In a sympathetically sullen performance, newcomer Aaron Stanford perfectly personifies Oscar's weary disposition and eccentric, worldly intellect that mask -- albeit not very well -- his lack of life experience and social polish. Oscar's confidence wavers wildly, as does his imitation suave (an episode involving fake sideburns is overly broad and out of character). But he's wise enough to know, somewhere deep down inside, that his determined infatuation is foolish, and it frustrates him no end -- especially since landing in the sack with Neuwirth was so easy it could even be called accidental.

Neuwirth is a hoot as the shameless, mischievous cradle-robber, whose lack of decorum soon complicates Oscar's plans immensely. Weaver lends the attractive stepmother a tangible but subtle, affectionate awkwardness around Oscar that stems from her focus on trying to find the right balance between mom, mentor and friend. Needless to say, she's blindsided by Oscar's desire for something considerably more. John Ritter is also terrific as Oscar's warm but sometimes-distant, history prof pop, who has taken an interest in his son's love life (asking about girls at school, etc.) at exactly the wrong time.

Combining elements of "The Graduate," Voltaire's "Candide," Woody Allen, Whit Stillman's "Metropolitan," Holden Caulfield and Oedipus Rex, this film is ripe with New York atmosphere and understated, indelibly human comedic tension, amplified by its low-budget but very intimate digital video style.

Yet it's the casting of Stanford that gives "Tadpole" its soul. Because of him, Oscar's interest in women almost three times his age feels more like a rationalized inclination than a fetish or a childish preoccupation -- even though we're privy to the kid's laughably quaint romantic daydreams about flying kites and riding in horse-drawn carriages curled up with his stepmom's head on his shoulder.

Curiously, "Tadpole" is one of four movies out this year in which teenage boys copulate with much older women. I wonder what's in the air that "Lovely and Amazing," "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and the upcoming Jennifer Aniston indie project "The Good Girl" all include variations on this theme.

Just as curious is the fact that none of these films frown on these couplings with any seriousness. Imagine the uproar if a film casually depicted a sexual relationship between a 40-year-old man and a teenage girl. I wonder if this double standard stems from over-estimating the capacity for sexual self-awareness in modern young men or under-estimating that capacity in modern young women.



Tadpole

Facts and Figures

Run time: 78 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 7th November 2002

Box Office USA: $2.9M

Box Office Worldwide: 2

Budget: 150

Distributed by: Miramax Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Fresh: 83 Rotten: 24

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Oscar Grubman, as Miranda Spear, as Diane Lodder, as Stanley Grubman, as Eve Grubman

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Alice Through the Looking Glass Movie Review

Alice Through the Looking Glass Movie Review

This much more light-hearted sequel reinvigorates the franchise after Disney's quirky but murky 2010 reboot...

Love & Friendship Movie Review

Love & Friendship Movie Review

Acclaimed filmmaker Whit Stillman reunites the stars of his 1998 drama The Last Days of...

Money Monster Movie Review

Money Monster Movie Review

A sleekly made thriller with a sparky sense of humour, this is also a rare...

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

This closing chapter of the First Class trilogy falls into the same trap as The...

Sing Street Movie Review

Sing Street Movie Review

A buoyant celebration of the power of music, this is the third blissfully entertaining musical...

Departure Movie Review

Departure Movie Review

Complex, dark and very moving, this British drama never makes things easy for the audience,...

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Richard Linklater loosely follows on from two of his most acclaimed films with this lively...

Advertisement
Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

John le Carre's novel is adapted with plenty of inventive style into a remarkably personal...

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

There's nothing particularly memorable about this frantic animated romp, which adapts the iconic phone-app game...

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

While it's amusing and sometimes very funny, there's an air of desperation about this sequel...

Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Although this comedy-drama seems to have been written specifically to give Meryl Streep a chance...

I Saw the Light Movie Review

I Saw the Light Movie Review

Writer-director Marc Abraham gets ambitious with this biopic about iconic country music star Hank Williams,...

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

After the formulaic thrills of The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron, Marvel's Avengers were...

Son of Saul Movie Review

Son of Saul Movie Review

From Hungary, this year's Oscar-winning foreign film is a remarkably fresh take on the Holocaust...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.