Tadpole
4 out of 5 stars
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With an intelligent script and a terrific ensemble cast, this small comedy gets deep under the skin to be funny, sexy and surprisingly thoughtful. Oscar (Stanford) is an unusually well-read 15-year-old, quoting Voltaire and thinking far too seriously about life and love. As one person observes, he's more like 15 going on 40. Home in Manhattan for the Thanksgiving weekend with his father (Ritter), Oscar indulges in romantic fantasies about his stepmother (Weaver), his idea of the perfect older woman. But he may have to settle for her best friend (Neuwirth). Whatever he does, two things are clear to us: He's not remotely interested in girls his own age and with his courteous, caring manner he can get just about any older woman he wants.

The title is a nickname used by the apartment building's doorman (Appel), to which Oscar keeps replying, "Nobody calls me that anymore." Yes, he feels fully grown and ready to face the world and all it has to offer. But first he needs a lesson in maturity to put him on the right track. Winick shot the film in just 14 days using a handheld digital video camera, but the quality of the direction and screenplay are so high that you never notice the microproduction. These are fascinating characters, each caught in a dilemma they will resolve using wisdom and experience, and they're played with raw authenticity by a seriously good cast. Perfect timing, understated delivery and telling little touches fill each performance. And while the film as a whole is perhaps a bit too smart for its own good (and for most cinemagoers), it's also a refreshingly intelligent and emotionally resonant work that has something important to say about love ... and growing up.

cert 15 themes, language, innuendo 28.May.03

dir Gary Winick
scr Heather McGowan, Niels Mueller
with Aaron Stanford, Sigourney Weaver, John Ritter, Bebe Neuwirth, Robert Iler, Kate Mara, Peter Appel, Ron Rifkin, Adam LeFevre, Alicia Van, Paul Butler, Hope Chernov
release US 2.Aug.02 UK 20.Jun.03
Miramax
02/US 1h19

Serving 15-40. Stanford and Weaver

sanford weaver neuwirth
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... tadpole "It's easy to see why this film resonates with the pulsating stride of a wicked coming-of-age tale. Maybe that's because it has the pedigree of an instant classic such as The Graduate and the resounding reminiscence of Wes Anderson's 1998 charmer Rushmore. Whatever the sentiment, it's a winning light-hearted romantic comedy with an appealing, mature edginess. Granted, the notion of hormonal young men lusting after their older female targets has been explored in the movies countless times before. And the Oedipus complex theme, despite its tabooish subject matter, has also been vastly portrayed on the big screen. The familiar premise withstanding, Winick does an exceptional job in the way he takes his youthful 15-year-old protagonist Oscar Grubman (Aaron Stanford) and tangles him in an awkward web of wayward passion for his kind-hearted and shapely stepmother Eve (Sigourney Weaver) only to hook him into the arms of his stepmom's flirtatious single best friend Diane (Bebe Neuwirth). Although "Tadpole" won't make anyone forget the previously off-kilter exploration of wild May-December romances through quirky films of the past, this vehicle is still a worthy component that delightfully captures the warped woes of growing pains within everybody's needy soul. *** (out of 4)." --Frank Ochieng, Massachusetts 22.Aug.02
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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