Meet Oscar Grubman. He's 15, speaks fluent French and has a passion for Voltaire. Unfortunately, that's not the only thing he's passionate about. Oscar's crush on his fortysomething stepmother (Sigourney Weaver) threatens to turn Thanksgiving into a scandal worthy of Oedipus.
Expertly played by 23-year-old Aaron Stanford, Oscar's the kind of precocious adolescent who rejects a potential mate if he doesn't like her hands. Returning to upper-crust Manhattan intent on declaring love for Weaver's Eve, he falls into the clutches of Diane (Bebe Neuwirth). One drunken liaison later and Oscar's in a world of hurt. As best pal Charlie (Robert Iler) says, ""If you're gonna mess with the stuff of Greek tragedy, you've got to be prepared for the fall-out"."
Taking its cues from The Graduate, this 2002 Sundance smash stirs a sliver of Whit Stillman, a pinch of Wes Anderson and dose of Woody Allen angst into a mighty appetising recipe. What's more, it was shot in a quickfire 14 days with a budget so slim it makes Calista Flockhart look like John Candy.
Liberally sprinkled with Voltaire quotations and set amid New York's Upper East Side affluence, this comedy of errors could have been insufferably precious. Thankfully, director Gary Winick keeps Oscar sympathetic even at his most annoying, while the script's mix of urbane wit and earthy farce lays on some hilarious set-pieces.
Neuwirth's saucy seductress is magnificent and Weaver brings vulnerability to her ice maiden. But this is Stanford's show, his talent burning from every frame. No wonder it landed him the Pyro gig in X2.
Some murky visuals aside, Tadpole's a real treat: a subtle, literate gem that gleams with a sharp script and terrific casting, all clocking in at a bum-friendly 78 minutes.