Sundance favourite to open Raindance Film Festival

Preview by Jack Foley

 

 

FONDLY referred to as a cross between The Graduate and Rushmore by critics in America, Tadpole has also been an audience favourite at both the highly-regarded Sundance Film Festival and the Seattle International Film Festival.

Directed by Gary Winick (of The Tic Code fame), the film stars the rapidly-emerging Aaron Stanford as a 15-year-old boy, Oscar Grubman, who unwittingly develops a crush on an older woman - his stepmother (played by Sigourney Weaver) - whom he feels his workaholic father (John Ritter) is neglecting.

To complicate matters still further, he also ends up in bed with his stepmother’s best friend, played by Bebe Neuwirth, creating all manner of sexual confusion.

Being an independent coming-of-age tale, there is also less emphasis on gross-out bedroom fumblings and more on the emotions involved, while also making Oscar something of a teenage eccentric (in Rushmore mode). Oscar can speak fluent French, orders fancy food properly, and has a passion for Voltaire.

The movie drew such rave reviews at Sundance, that it ignited a bidding war between several of the major film distribution companies (Miramax eventually won) and immediately thrust Stanford into the Box Office limelight - he is to follow-up his independent turn here, with the blockbuster X-Men 2 (directed by Bryan Singer).

Needless to say, critics in America were keen to lavish praise on Tadpole for the mature, sophisticated and funny way in which it handled its potentially controversial subject matter - even if some accused it of being a little too clever for its own good. Not bad for a film which also boasts the tightest of running times - clocking in at a mere 78 minutes.

While there is no firm release date for the movie in the UK as yet, viewers can catch up with it at the forthcoming Raindance Film Festival in London, from October 23, where it has been chosen to open the popular independent event.

What the US critics thought:

Released at the height of the blockbuster season in the States, owing to its strong word of mouth from Sundance, the film became a quirky favourite among film fans and critics.

E! Online praised it for being ‘light - but not stupid’ and predicted that, with the right word of mouth, ‘this little frog just might become the sleeper Prince Charming of summer’, awarding it a B+, while the New York Post awarded it a maximum four out of four stars and declared it ‘an uproarious, sophisticated coming-of-age comedy so flawlessly written, acted and directed it seems practically miraculous’.

The Los Angeles Times was equally as glowing, saying that Tadpole ‘plays like a witty, well-told short story, sly and delightful’, while Rolling Stone said that it ‘may be small, but it's something special — a cheeky comedy knockout’.

Village Voice, meanwhile, said that it was ‘as sweet and unassuming a film as they come’, while Film Threat described it as ‘light, fun, and complex’, awarding it three and a half stars out of five.

Even those of a mixed view were more positive than negative, with LA Weekly describing it as ‘a cinematic meringue, all sugary sweet and as substantial as air’, with the New York Times referring to it as ‘a delicious bonbon of a film’. And the food analogy was continued by TV Guide, which posted the least favourable of this review round-up, saying: "This breezy romantic trifle isn't nearly as clever as it imagines itself to be."

But the final word goes to Variety, which described Tadpole as ‘a smart sex comedy that successfully swims upstream to spawn and score’.

I guess the queue starts now for its debut at the Raindance.

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