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15 year old Oscar Grubman (Aaron Stanford) is different; unlike his fellow students, he loves (and quotes) Voltaire, speaks French and can tell a lot about a woman by her hands. As he returns from boarding school to his parentsí New York City apartment for Thanksgiving, Oscar has one thing on his mind: his stepmother, Eve (Sigourney Weaver). But itís a beautiful 40-something friend of the family (Bebe Neuwirth) who seduces Oscar, creating enormous complications even before he can reveal his romantic feelings for Eve.

Review by Louise Keller:
A delicious 21st century twist on The Graduate, Tadpole is a surprise package of wit, laughs and rib-tickling situations. But while the theme may echo with Mrs Robinsonís 1967 seduction of Dustin Hoffmanís gawky Benjamin, in fact Tadpoleís 15 year old protagonist is quite a different kettle of fish. Or tadpole, if you like: his childhood nickname. After all, he is a 15 year old who is sensitive, intelligent, poetic and converses with the stylishness and world-weariness of someone twice his age. A comedy of manners with a script that zings and a score than sings, the humour unravels like a ball of wool that comes to the attention of a playful kitten. The situations are beautifully set up and played out to perfection. The first time we see Eve, the object of Oscarís affection, we see her through Oscarís rose-tinted gaze. There she is - statuesque, beautiful and composed, adjusting her scarf in slow motion, as strains of Charles Aznavourís haunting song ĎSheí echoes alluringly. She is a goddess, beyond perfection and as ethereal as his love for Voltaire. Using Voltaire quotation on cards between some of the scenes is a lovely touch, with erudite pearls of wisdom such as ĎLove shows signs that cannot be mistaken,í and ĎCommon sense is not so commoní. When Eveís best friend Diane takes Oscar home for coffee and starts to give him a massage, we know exactly where things are leadingÖ. Then thereís that cute scene when Oscar meets Diane at coffee with the girls, and it is painfully clear to Oscar, that Diane has told them all about him. They even want his phone number for themselves! But the piece de resistance is that wonderful restaurant scene with Oscar, his father, Eve and Diane, when the comedy of errors reaches its peak as all is revealed with the help of mirrors, Elvis sideburns and the help of a small dog. Our anticipation is engaged as Oscar frantically tries to stop Diane from drinking too much and blabbing about their affair, which of course goes from bad to worse. Itís quite a scene, and I am not going to spoil it for you by telling you any more Ė you will need to discover it for yourself. In his first leading role, 23 year old Aaron Stanford is perfectly convincing as the teen whose hormones are raging and Bebe Neuwirth is divine as the masseuse who likes working on knotted muscle. Sigourney Weaver is suitably enticing as Eve, and her response when confronted by the reality of the situation is filled with nuance and gentleness. John Ritter gives a strong performance as the blissfully unaware father. There are some terrific one-liners Ė my favourite is when Oscar asks Diane what itís like to be 40. ĎNot so bad,í she retorts, ĎExcept all your friends seem kinda tired.í Shot in 14 days with a hand-held digital camera, Tadpole bubbles with energy and charm.†

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Hereís a weird little fish: an indie film made with the stamp of approval (in dollars) of Miramax and distributed alongside the big budget Hollywood studio pictures. The producers managed to snare a couple of big names (Sigourney Weaver, Bebe Neuwirth), and shot an underground movie with a subversive theme, then made it look like a seasonal romantic comedy aimed at teens as well as mums (or at least stepmums). Kidding aside, Tadpole may not be a masterpiece but itís much better than some (some US critics, that is) would have us believe. It may be that they donít get it; the film pokes fun at its own pretensions and posits its young man/older woman romance in an audacious fashion. Itís not a straight story, guys and gals. Thereís mischief in director Gary Winickís heart as he sets us up with what at first looks like a new take on The Graduate. It isnít. After all, there is more to younger menís attraction to older women than one film can deal with. Inside the mischief, Winick hides a genuine understanding of the characters, and nurtures them through a complicated journey with wit and (thank goodness) good taste. And maybe thatís why it isnít going to hit commercial gold: thereís nothing at which you can take offense. The filmís greatest strength is how both Weaver and Neuwirth handle their different relationships with Aaron Stanfordís Oscar; they are truthful and controlled performances that give the film the lift it needs to rise above the predictable. Tadpole is interesting Ė and economical.

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TADPOLE (MA - Adult Themes)

CAST: Aaron Stanford, Sigourney Weaver, John Ritter, Bebe Neuwirth, Robert Iler, Peter Appel

PRODUCER: Alexis Alexanian, Dolly Hall, Gary Winick

DIRECTOR: Gary Winick

SCRIPT: Heather McGowan, Niels Mueller

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Hubert Taczanowski

EDITOR: Susan Littenberg

MUSIC: Renaud Pion


RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes




VIDEO RELEASE: May 14, 2003 (Also on DVD)

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