Projections - Movie Reviews

Pumpkin Pumpkin

A successful mordant, if endearing satire is hard to come by in the somewhat wicked fan funny Pumpkin.  The casting of Christina Ricci as a very pious sorority girl in Southern California falling for a handicapped man adds some energy to a film which doesn't rise to the level of the material and characters on view.

Ricci's Carolyn McDuffy can be a cousin to Reese Witherspon's pink-clad coed of the loopy appealing Legally Blonde.  Her WASP-ish blonde is seemingly on top of her life as the ebullient member of Alpha Omega Pi, who has a nice tennis player boyfriend, Kent (Sam Ball) and is set on helping her house become the Sorority of the Year.

In Pumpkin, with its politically incorrect intentions regarding male athletes, sororities, and parents stationed in Pasadena, the sisters, led by president Julie Thurber (Marisa Coughlin Teaching Mrs. Tingle), find a charity that will put them in good standing with the Greek Council.

The minorities in Adam Larsen Broder's touchy screenplay are physically and mentally challenged youths as the direction of Broder and Tony R. Abrams works them into practicing for the "Challenged Games".

Carolyn's "acceptable" rushee is the title character played by Hank Harris.  Pumpkin Romanoff is an amiable, retarded young man in a wheelchair that makes some ambivalent feelings swell up in her.   But, unlike her wildly sensitive roommate (Dominique Swain), Carolyn doesn't abandoned the special athlete who's working at discus throwing.

The new object of Carolyn's affection begins to trouble Julie, Kent, and Pumpkin's nosy mother, Brenda Blethyn, less impressive than in the sardonically funny Lovely & Amazing.

While she sees something wonderful inside Pumpkin (not truly convincing from the broad approach of the film), her feelings start to make an ideal existence erode.

Elsewhere, Carolyn is a pariah as the prolonged Pumpkin sees her defy everyone, especially Mrs. Romanoff.  And her closeness with the athlete surprisingly elevates him when it comes to brain power, as well as doing much more than standing up.

As Broder and Abrams add giddiness to the increasing pathos, things start to veer over a threshold of slapstick and pathos.  Nevertheless, Ricci and a fairly touching Harris, hone into the feelings of living in an imperfect world.

But, Pumpkin doesn't excel as a perky, pernicious parody even with comical bits.  The sharp lensing and the garish production designs of a plastic Pasadena unfortunately set a potentially devilish movie on an uneven, if energetic course.


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