Urban Cinefile
"Apart from male arrogance, Mr Brown is such a handsome bugger, which is another reason they wanted me"  -Billy Connolly on being cast in Mrs Brown.
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Saturday March 17, 2018 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



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 parents’ New York City apartment for Thanksgiving, Oscar has one thing on his mind: his stepmother, Eve (Sigourney Weaver). But it’s 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 Robinson’s 1967 seduction of Dustin Hoffman’s gawky Benjamin, in fact Tadpole’s 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 Oscar’s affection, we see her through Oscar’s rose-tinted gaze. There she is - statuesque, beautiful and composed, adjusting her scarf in slow motion, as strains of Charles Aznavour’s haunting song ‘She’ 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 ‘Love shows signs that cannot be mistaken,’ and ‘Common sense is not so common’. When Eve’s best friend Diane takes Oscar home for coffee and starts to give him a massage, we know exactly where things are leading…. Then there’s 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. It’s quite a scene, and I am not going to spoil it for you by telling you any more – 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 – my favourite is when Oscar asks Diane what it’s like to be 40. ‘Not so bad,’ she retorts, ‘Except all your friends seem kinda tired.’ Shot in 14 days with a hand-held digital camera, Tadpole bubbles with energy and charm. 

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Here’s 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 it’s much better than some (some US critics, that is) would have us believe. It may be that they don’t get it; the film pokes fun at its own pretensions and posits its young man/older woman romance in an audacious fashion. It’s not a straight story, guys and gals. There’s mischief in director Gary Winick’s heart as he sets us up with what at first looks like a new take on The Graduate. It isn’t. After all, there is more to younger men’s 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 that’s why it isn’t going to hit commercial gold: there’s nothing at which you can take offense. The film’s greatest strength is how both Weaver and Neuwirth handle their different relationships with Aaron Stanford’s Oscar; they are truthful and controlled performances that give the film the lift it needs to rise above the predictable. Tadpole is interesting – and economical.

Email this article

Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

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)

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2018