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.

Film Trailer

Tadpole (15)
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Content updated: 20/09/2018 18:13

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