Tadpole (15)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner17/06/2003

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 78 mins

Well-written, well-acted coming-of-age comedy with a dash of Woody Allen about it.

Writer-director Winick shot his debut feature Tadpole in 14 days on digital video for a mere $150,000. It was rewarded with the Director’s Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and subsequently picked up by Miramax. It was also something of a hit at the Edinburgh Film Festival last year, so it’s pleasing to see it finally get a release.

Voltaire-reading Prep School Ponce

Aaron Stanford (if he looks familiar it’s because he plays ‘Pyro’ in X-Men 2) stars as Oscar Grubman, a pretentious, Voltaire-reading prep school boy who falls for his stepmother (Sigourney Weaver) and distances himself emotionally from his father (John Ritter) as a result.

However, his plans don’t quite work out and he finds himself seduced by his mother’s friend Diana (Bebe Neuwirth) instead. And then there’s a small matter of an awkward Thanksgiving dinner to worry about…

There’s no doubt that Winick has spent a lot of time reading the Woody Allen Guide To Angst-Ridden New York Comedy and his film also owes something to Whit Stillman’s films about equally pretentious prep school types (Metropolitan, The Last Days of Disco). However, as a nakedly low-budget feature debut, it’s impressively assured, with some terrific laugh-out-loud gags and lines.

Gloriously Amoral

The performances are excellent, though Neuwirth is unquestionably the stand-out with her lusty, gloriously amoral turn as Diana – the restaurant scene is hilarious.

Ritter and Weaver provide solid, if unshowy support, and Robert Iler (Anthony Soprano from The Sopranos) has a small role as Oscar’s best friend.

As for Stanford, he’s excellent in his debut (despite playing a good six years younger than his age) and his performances here and in X-Men 2 suggest imminent Next Big Thing status.

To sum up, Tadpole is an enjoyable, frequently hilarious comedy and there’s enough here to warrant the eager anticipation of Winick’s next project. Recommended.

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Tadpole (15)
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Content updated: 11/12/2017 00:23

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