Tadpole (2002) / Comedy-Drama
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexual content, mature themes, and language
Running Time: 78 min.
Cast: Aaron Stanford, Sigourney Weaver, John Ritter, Bebe Neuwirth, Robert Iler, Ron Rifkin
Director: Gary Winick
Screenplay: Heather McGowan, Niels Mueller
Review published November 8, 2002
Oscar Grubman (Stanford, X2) is a smart, bookish 15-year-old boy that has a knack for drawing in the ladies with his passion for French and Voltaire. He comes home to his father's (Ritter, Sling Blade) New York apartment from his academy with zeal, as he has a crush on his step-mother, Eve (Weaver, Heartbreakers). He doesn't know how he will do it, but he thinks he must try to make her his, but slips in his endeavor when he spends the night with Eve's best friend, Diane (Neuwirth, Liberty Heights), falling to a momentary lapse of passion. Oscar tries to keep a lid on the incident so he can keep all options open, but Diane has loose lips, which is quite a bad thing now that they have all been invited to a night on the town by his father, including Diane.
Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize and winner of the Director's Award at Sundance 2002, Tadpole is a short, incredulous, but entertaining film that some will see as another form of The Graduate or Rushmore, except without some of the artistic aspirations. With some of the news stories involving older women becoming sexually active with teenage boys of late, Tadpole may seem like a distasteful film to some, and certainly, if the genders had been swapped, this film would have been met with outrage. Yet, the fact that Stanford looks like what he is, a man in his early 20s, in addition to the fact that he probably could never woo the pants off of any self-respecting woman with Voltaire quotes alone, makes Tadpole seem a little too fantastic to be taken overly seriously.
At around 75 minutes, Tadpole isn't quite meaty enough to be completely memorable, but it is still an interesting film to watch, and even if the character of Oscar is drawn out of fantasyland, his observations on life and women make for some witty moments. Winick (13 Going on 30) proves to be a director to watch, while good roles are given to fine actors that haven't had much going for them in that department lately. If you are one that enjoys small, quirky comedies you might want to give Tadpole a try.
©2002 Vince Leo