This week:

Filthy says:
"If I want to hear whiny New Yorkers, I'll move there."

Teen sex is big business and teen angst is small business. Why not? It doesn't take much skill to hire a couple of hot-looking 20-somethings to pose as teens and take off their clothes. Add in a few gags about ejaculating and you've got a hit because the average moviegoer is a) in high school, b) should still be in high school or c) masturbates while thinking about someone in high school. Most Hollywood executives were probably popular in high school, or still wish they had been. All of their social skills and decision-making skills were developed there.

Making teen misery appealing is a hell of a lot harder to do, so Hollywood leaves it to the whiny arthouse crowd. Give it to the coffee house folks who wear their adolescent unpopularity like a badge of honor. "Look how great being lame in high school paid off... Now I'm cool. I like Lattes, read Proust and have a laptop computer. Oh, and a tiny cellphone that plays Beethoven!"

Tadpole is the sort of teen angst crap that gets labeled "coming of age" to give us a goopy nostalgia feeling that we can tap into. Yeah, we all remember that first time we wanted to fuck our stepmoms. Wasn't that a good time? The teen angst here is a crock of shit, phony and dull; so cerebral to be detached from anything real. It's not angst so much as a mental circle jerk of writers and a director who think they're more clever than they appear to me. They can't resist showing everyone how cool they are now by planting relevant quotes from a dead French philosopher on the screen every five minutes of their movie. Well, yeah, but putting it up on the screen isn't nearly as impresive as actually understanding it.

Aaron Stanford plays Oscar Grubman, a fifteen-year-old prodigy, or so we're led to believe because he reads Voltaire and speaks French. He's supposed to be a 40-year old trapped in a fifteen-year-old body, but that's just horseshit. He's 40 years worth of reading fancy books, but not living. If the kid lived maybe this would have been an interesting story.

Unfortunately, this isn't the kind of movie where a kid like this gets his teeth kicked in and then run over by kids on motocross bikes. It's the kind where all the people on New York's rich-ass Upper Eastside adore him. The girls are straining juice through their panties and the adults stop admiring their vacations in Portugal long enough to talk about how special he is. Oh, a kid who reads Voltaire! How fucking cute. And he is passive and whiny! Oh, if only his bedroom walls could talk.

Stanford returns from his snooty boarding school to his sappy historian dad (John Ritter) and stepmom (Sigourney Weaver) for Thanksgiving. He thinks he's in love with Weaver. Before he can tell her, though, he gets drunk and is seduced by her best friend, the pasty, creepy Bebe Neuwirth. Afterward, Stanford worries that Weaver will find out, forever ruining his chance at love.

Tadpole is filled with more phony moments than a family reunion. It wants to be a smart, controversial farce, but the gags are just the same old "Three's Company" double entendres and mistaken identities, only dressed up all fancy with Voltaire quotes. There are so many scenes and moments that feel more like the writers said "wouldn't it be funny if" rather than reveal the characters. As a result, the whole thing is smug and inconsistent, like a collection of bon mots from a New Yorker daily calendar shoved into actors' mouths. It's the kind of shit where assholes laugh because they think they're smart, not because it's funny.

It wants credit for being naughty and controversial without actually tackling any issues. Just bringing up a boy wanting to screw his stepmom is no more daring than half the Brady Bunch fan fiction I've read. And it's nowhere near as shocking unless a sheepdog and a butcher are licking someone's ass. Besides, while the fan fiction brings up some big moral questions--such as is it wrong for Cindy to spy and be a tattle tale, even though she saw Greg humping Jan on Dad's drafting table--the movie shies away from them. It uses the naughtiness as a backdrop for the lame gags and then just fades away at the end, unresolved and unsatisfying. To do more would mean actually getting deeper than simply being able to quote Voltaire.

The characters aren't people: they're vehicles driven from point A to B by the writers. Whatever makes the script easiest is how they act, and we don't get to know or care about anyone. Ritter's father character is conveniently stupid. He's a professor at Columbia, yet so stupid he believes whatever his son tells him. Stanford is supposed to be a genius, yet he glues on fake sideburns in one scene, and is an old pro at ordering cocktails but too stupid to spot a come on from a pretty girl. Weaver is barely there, sleepwalking through the movie as a big nothing. The kid might as well have been in love with a bath mat for all the personality Weaver has. The movie's not about her, but it would be nice to know what makes the kid love her.

The story should be about a smart kid looking at the mess he's put himself into. Instead, it's just a series of "wacky" incidents revolving around Stanford trying to keep Neuwirth from bragging that she fucked Weaver's stepson. What kind of lunatic would blurt out that she just statutorily raped a confused kid? And what's so fucking funny about that? As free-wheeling as Neuwirth's character is supposed to be, she isn't insane. And all the antics don't get us any closer to the problem. Why have near-incest in your movie if you're just going to puss out of talking about it?

The movie looks like crap. It was shot cheaply on digital, then processed to look like film. It's grainy, smudged and the scenes have no depth. The picture has no distinctive look or feel. It's just another whiny story about rich New Yorkers who think they're smarter than they really are. I'd rather read about Sam and Alice. Two Fingers.

Want to tell Filthy Something?

Filthy's Reading
Graham Greene - Collected Short Stories

Listening to
Life Without Buildings - Any other City

Donnie Darko

Mark S. Allen

Austin Powers in Goldmember is "a shagadelic triumph! Full of gut-busting, ab-crunching, fall-out-of-your-seat surprises!"

Like Mike is "hilarious! Lik eMike's got game for the whole family!"

Did Mark S. Allen really bust his gut, crunch his abs and fall out of his seat? And what the hell is an ab-crunching surprise, anyway?



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