Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: None listed
THE young male infatuation with sexy, older women has provided
the inspiration for countless movies (from The Graduate to American
Pie), yet few have delivered the goods with such aplomb as
Described as a romantic vision of New York City at the start
of the holiday season, Gary Winicks movie is a knowing,
smart and hopelessly enjoyable coming-of-age drama that, owing
to its independent roots, refrains from tiresome message-making,
crass sexual exploitation or drifting into shameless sentimentality.
It is wittily performed by an excellent ensemble cast, does not
outstay its welcome, and contains a nice line in humour that puts
many similar movies to shame.
Little wonder, then, that it emerged as an audience favourite
at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, where the jury acknowledged
Winick with a best director award, and subsequently became snapped
up by the Goliath that is Miramax Films.
The film itself finds Aaron Stanfords sensitive 15-year-old,
Oscar Grubman, returning from boarding school with one thing in
mind - wooing and winning his sexy mother-in-law, played by Sigourney
Despite being adored by several girls of his age, Oscar is infatuated
with older women, considering himself to be something of a renaissance
man - fluent in French, conversant in the classics (and Voltaire,
in particular), and able to tell all he needs to know about the
opposite sex from one look at their hands.
However, his plan goes awry when he unwittingly beds the beautiful
40-something friend of the family (vampishly played by Bebe Neuwirth)
and finds himself becoming the object of desire for several sophisticated
women, while trying to prevent his infidelity from
With so many sexual shenanigans taking place, it would have been
easy for Tadpole to drift into another routine coming-of-age drama,
in which the women are manipulatively exploited for the gratification
of the male audience, and the emphasis is on embarrassing, gross-out
Yet Winick, thankfully, avoids falling into such cliches, opting
to find his humour elsewhere - hence, a dinner party between Oscar,
his father and the two women he desires, in which he attempts
to stop the truth from emerging while putting his plan into play,
forms one of many comic highlights.
The fact that the movie was shot digitally, in just 14 days,
lends it a more authentic feel, as though we could quite easily
be intruding on an ordinary life, while the pithy script contains
plenty of knowing references and a nice line in self-depreciative
Credit must also go to Stanford (who has since appeared as Pyro
in X-Men 2) for keeping his character
likeable and not too arty, while Weaver and Neuwirth
clearly have fun playing up to their stereotypes; with the latter,
in particular, providing an incendiary presence that disappears
all too quickly once the dinner party is over (my one, minor,
Praise must also be given for the way in which the movie resolves
itself, with a happiness, of sorts, found by its protagonist,
that doesnt betray the reality of the situation.
One can only hope that its strong word of mouth from the Sundance
Festival (always a good indicator of the years best independent
movies) will help it to become similarly embraced by UK audiences.
It is a romantic journey worth taking.