Tadpole

September, 2002, Drama

Directed by:Gary Winick

Starring:Aaron Stanford , Bebe Neuwirth , Sigourney Weaver , John Ritter , and Robert Iler

This independent production comes infected with a terminal case of smugness. Its 15-year old-precocious-adolescent-boarding school hero thinks he’s fallen in love with his Dad's new bride, a research biologist. Back home in New York City for the Thanksgiving holiday, the boy gets (1) seduced by his step-mother's 40-something best friend, (2) behaves with unbearable rudeness towards the daughter one of his father's academic colleagues, (3) mopes in Central Park without a glimpse of self-understanding about his own appetites, then (4) is assured by every adult in the film that he's an adult capable of making his own decisions. 

What humor exists here is largely forced and the cast, which includes John Ritter, Sigourney Weaver and Bebe Neuwirth, strives mightily to bring levity to material that's too glib for its own good. The screenwriters, (both female) spend a lot of time trying to develop a bemused, sophisticated attitude to their material, but would they have created such a blithe attitude about “cougar love” if a 15 year old girl came home for the weekend and was seduced by one of her Dad's middle-aged buddies? 

The Verdict? This struggle to do Lolita in reverse as a comedy of urban manners flickers like a dim bulb.

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