Miramax // 2002 // 78 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // February 20th, 2003
Everyone says he should date girls his own age.
Oscar respectfully declines.
Tadpole tells the story of young Oscar "Tadpole" Grubman (Aaron Stanford, TV's Third Watch), a highly intellectual and sophisticated 15-year old boy who finds himself attracted to much older women. Oscar's biggest fixation is with Eve (Sigourney Weaver, Alien), who just happens to be married to Oscar's upper-class father (John Ritter, TV's Three's Company) and is, in effect, Oscar's stepmother. One day Oscar happens to end up at the home of chiropractic Diane (Bebe Neuwirth, Cheers), a 40-something friend of the family. Diane notices Oscar's infatuation with older women and proceeds to seduce the boy right into bed. The morning after, Oscar finds himself terrified that Eve may find out about his indecent affair with Diane, thus negating any chance of a romance with Eve. As Oscar attempts to cover up his sexual escapade with Diane and vie for Eve's affections, hilarity ensues in this naughty comedy of errors.
A little back history on Tadpole: the film was shot on digital video in the span of only 14 days on a budget of around $150,000 (which was most likely the cost of the catering for Armageddon). Needless to say, Tadpole sometimes feels like a rushed effort. The running time is a mere 78 minutes -- just barely clocking in as a feature length film. This does not bode well for the story, which as it stands is a pale imitation of the classic comedy The Graduate. Though the film is peppered with some funny bits and players (Bebe Neuwirth is great as Oscar's older one-night stand), a solid character arc for Oscar is never quite achieved. Even more baffling are the actions and careless abandonment for possible repercussions on the part of the adults -- I don't know about you, but I'd be just a little concerned about statutory rape charges with a fifteen year old boy (then again, if I was sleeping with fifteen year old boys, I'd be living a whole different lifestyle). Quasi-newcomer Aaron Stanford is likable and smart as the mature-beyond-his-years Oscar, but his character's change at the end of the film comes rather abruptly and without much credibility. Both John Ritter and Sigourney Weaver do a fine job as Oscar's respective parental units. Unfortunately, the good performances just don't outweight director/writer Gary Winick's lacking screenplay. This isn't a bad movie for a weekday rental, though there are better and funnier comedies out there.
Tadpole is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Since the film was shot on PAL digital video, and with such a shoestring budget in mere days, this doesn't end up being the best looking print around. There is a noticeable amount of grain and dirt in the image, as well as lots of imperfections like picture softness and edge enhancement along the way. There was a rumor that when Miramax picked up the film for distribution it was going to clean up the image and picture imperfections. No such luck -- while the film's transfer is watchable, it can't compare with other big name DVD titles. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. Much like the video portion of this disc, the audio also suffers from a limited budget -- hardly any surround sounds or directional effects are in this mix. The music, effects, and dialogue are mostly clear, and I guess that's what counts. Also included on this disc are English subtitles.
The extra features on Tadpole are fairly light. The meatiest extra on this disc is a commentary track by director Gary Winick. This track was very heavy on the technical aspects of the movie, discussing such topics as digital video and what it was like to shot on such a quick budget. Since the film is so short, this commentary track won't take interested viewers long to get through. Also included on the disc are a few theatrical trailers for four other Miramax films and DVDs.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 78 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Commentary Track by Director Gary Winick
* Theatrical Trailers