Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Oscar Grubman (Aaron Stanford) is 15 years old and not into "regular stuff", like pop music and girls his own age. What he is into is speaking French - his unseen mother apparently ran off to Paris - reading Voltaire and fancying the pants off his stepmother Eve (Sigourney Weaver). He thinks Dad (John Ritter) doesn't listen to her enough and tries to fill the gap. Then his life takes a farcical turn when, after drinking in a bar on Thanksgiving, he is escorted home by Eve's pal Diane (Bebe Neuwirth, with a screen-stealing performance), seduced and bedded - a fact she brags about to her friends.

Tadpole definitely has comic moments, but let's take a closer look at the premise. Oscar is supposed to be a boy of 15. As his father succinctly puts it in one of the funniest scenes, "We aren't talking The Graduate, here". What happens is illegal and, no matter how high the comedy, it is difficult to believe that a fortysomething would find him desirable bed material - regardless of how much French he speaks - and that her friends would accept it as some kind of rites-of-passage.

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At what audience is the film aimed? It has little teen humour, with the majority of the cast unlikely to see 40 again, and there is not enough plot substance to constitute an incentive for the older crowd.

Director Gary Winick's problems don't stop there. Despite an uptight and serious nature, it is impossible to believe that Stanford, a 25-year-old actor, is really 15. I wonder if this casting was deliberate, in order to take your mind off the subject matter. Had they cast a younger actor in the role, would the joke be so funny, or the direction so carefree?

If you can divorce yourself from the morality issue, this is a lightweight comedy that will pass an hour - it's very short at 78 minutes - but there are no insights, no questioning the morals of those involved and little resolution, just one "little boy" in New York growing up too fast.

Reviewed on: 19 Aug 2002
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A boy falls for his stepmother in this coming of age comedy.
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Angus Wolfe Murray **1/2

Director: Gary Winick

Writer: Heather McGowan, Niels Mueller, Gary Winick

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Aaron Stanford, John Ritter, Bebe Neuwirth, Robert Iler, Adam Lefevre, Peter Appel, Alicia van Couvering, Kate Mara, Hope Chernov

Year: 2002

Runtime: 78 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


EIFF 2002

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If you like this, try:

The Graduate