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Tadpole is a terrific coming-of-age flick making its way through the arthouse circuit. It's well-worth checking out if it opens anywhere near you.

A no-budget independent shot on digital video that drew some known actors to it with a well-written script, Tadpole is the story of a bright 15-year-old prep school sophomore home for the Thanksgiving weekend, finally ready to express his burning secret love for the gal he's fallen hard for. Turns out this lucky lady is his 40-something stepmother. As if that wasn't complicated enough, he 'accidentally' sleeps with her best friend. This is the stuff of good farce, and that's how it's played, without any dark ramifications or a gritty tone, just a funny love story. Not that the farce is campy or over-the-top, but the drawing room variety - albeit updated to modern day Manhattan.

The cast is wonderful, staring with the lead, played by newcomer Aaron Stanford. His character, Oscar, a well-read introvert, is trying to live by the world of principle & love as described in Voltaire's Candide. Stanford adds some true believability to this starry-eyed dreamer. His best friend from school, played by "The Sopranos" A.J. Robert Iler, doesn't understand why he's so preoccupied with a concept like love without being bothered to even get laid - or at least helping to introduce him to some of the cuter girls from their class. When he gets home we meet his dad, played by John Ritter. He's a College English professor who is well-meaning but a bit oblivious to the specifics of his family dynamic, like how they really feel about anything other than surface 'everything is fine's. And then there's his stepmom, Eve, embodied by the ever-lovely Sigourney Weaver. She's a sensitive scientist specializing in the heart - and yes, such blatant symbolism works like a charm in this flick. She's a total M.I.L.F., how could you blame the kid - especially since she's the best kind, a Step-M.I.L.F. She's beautiful and funny and worldly and everything Oscar has idealized a lover to be.

Before Oscar can somehow seduce his Eve, in steps her best friend, Diane, a sexy chiropractor played by the still somehow underapprecited Bebe Neuwirth. Circumstance and a bit of alcohol throw these two in bed together, and before Oscar can ask where Joe DiMaggio has gone, he's gone and endangered his chances of explaining his burning desire for Eve.

This set up, while convoluted of course, is presented with so much wit and terrific dialogue, you'll be eating it up. The farcical scene in the restaurant with Oscar, Dad, Stepmom and new secret older lover is just hysterical. The entire movie is full of laughs, and the resolution to these various conflicts is amusing and emotiinally true.

I think I'm going to have to go back and see this one again later on during the week. I have to memorize more of that diolague ("Candide said, 'If there were no God, it would be necessary to invent him.' He was a funny guy"/"What's the trouble, Tadpole? - sorry. What's the trouble, Stupid?"/"15-40, a ratio you seemt o be quite fond of"/"She's pretty good looking, for her age-group"/"You were mugged?" "Sort of." "What do you mean 'sort of?'" "She was very pleasant about it.") and soak in those perfomances again.

Grade: A-