Main cast: Sigourney Weaver (Eve Grubman), Aaron Stanford (Oscar Grubman), Kate Mara (Miranda Spear), John Ritter (Stanley Grubman), Bebe Neuwirth (Diane Lodder), Peter Appel (Jimmy), Robert Iler (Charlie), Ron Rifkin (Prof Tisch), Alicia Van Couvering (Daphne Tisch), and Paul Butler (Professor Sherman)
Director: Gary Winick
It’s been awhile since I’ve been charmed by a comedy, especially when it comes to a comedy where a fifteen-year old boy sleeps with his stepmother’s friend while mistaking her for his stepmother whom he’s madly infatuated with. Gary Winick however uses the script by Heather McGowan and Niels Mueller to create a whimsical, enjoyable movie about a young boy who’s way older than his age instead of turning it into a Larry “I Make Kiddie Porn and Call It Art” Clark piece of crap.
Oh, and you may recognize Aaron Stanford as Pyro from X2. This movie is made when he slouches and has a bad haircut. He looks too old to play a fifteen-year old, but that’s okay. Oscar Grubman is a forty-year old man trapped in a boy’s body. He dislikes the antics of kids his own age. He yearns to be in the company of esteemed academia. He is infatuated with his stepmother Eve, played by Sigourney Weaver the way every boy’s Oedipal complex should be – alluring, sexy, but ostensibly maternal and oblivious to Oscar’s less than pure feelings about her. Trouble comes when he gets drunk after a fight with his father and ends up sleeping with his stepmother’s best friend (she is wearing Eve’s scarf, and Oscar imagines her to be Eve as a result). The movie culminates in a dinner scene that is just delicious to watch as every player in this mess sits together and try to hold a conversation together.
If I want to, I can make a case of statutory rape, but this movie is more about a young man’s trying to fit into the world of the adults he wants so badly to be in, not knowing just how unprepared he is to make that leap. Oscar is an amusing and symphathetic character all at once, and the nerd in me relates to how he often has no patience for fools.
The movie’s major weakness is its pacing. There are scenes in this movie that feels random. Also, the movie relies too much on its penultimate dinner scene. Most of the movie feels like a half-hearted build-up to that scene. In fact, one can easily build a case that it tries too hard to emulate The Graduate but falls short from coming close. Except, I’d like to think that The Graduate is The Graduate while Tadpole is… well, a cute movie about a teenager who learns ultimately that he isn’t as smart as he believes himself to be.