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

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

Advertisement
The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

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.