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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.68%
Worth A Look58.06%
Average: 3.23%
Pretty Bad: 22.58%
Total Crap: 6.45%

3 reviews, 13 user ratings

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by Brian McKay

"I never thought I'd get sick of watching Christina Ricci - but there it is."
2 stars

If ever a movie taught me the value of discretion when adding titles to the Netflix queue, it is this one. PUMPKIN is a draggy, overblown, and thoroughly unconvincing dark comedy/love story about a perfect sorority girl who suddenly and inexcplicably falls for a developmentally disabled young man.

Okay, so the only real reason I rented this is because I confused it with Ricci's upcoming film Prozac Nation (hey, they both take place in college and both start with a "P"). My bad, but I do love some Christina Ricci, so I thought I'd give it a go anyway. A mostly punishing 113 minutes later, I really wished I'd given it a pass.

Ricci plays Carolyn McDuffy, a spoiled white sorority girl with the perfect life. Rich parents, Tennis star jock boyfriend, and the distinction of belonging to the most prestigious house on campus, Alpha Omega Pi. Sorority president Julie (Marisa Coughlan) wants to keep it that way, too. She runs a tight house and keeps neurotic reign over her whitebread sisters and one token asian girl thrown in for "racial diversity" (played by Michelle Krusiec who, in my humble opinion, is the hottest one of the bunch). Her only goal in life seems to be impressing the Greek council so she can win the "Outstanding Achievement" award for her sorority for yet another year, beating out their chief rivals - a sorority full of identical, snooty, gorgeous blonde girls that looks like an aryan wet dream.

In order to win the obsessively coveted award, Julie will leave no task undone - including throwing elaborate theme parties and socials, and even making all the girls participate in the regional special olympics by helping disabled young men with their physical training. It is under this pretext that Carolyn meets a wheelchair-bound young man who hardly speaks, with the unlikely name of Pumpkin (Hank Harris) . What's even more unlikely is that Carolyn begins to fall for Pumpkin because she sees in him "a beautiful soul".

Yeah, whatever. My main problem with this film is that I just didn't buy the relationship between these two - the entire cornerstone on which the rest of the film hinges. Which is not to say that the idea of a spoiled sorority girl and a handicapped but intelligent character becoming involved with one another is completely implausible, but I just didn't buy it in this film. The chemistry simply wasn't there. Maybe better actors or a better script could have made it happen, but although Ricci works at her usual level of competence here, and Harris manages to convey the intelligence hidden beneath Pumpkin's disability, their relationship feels completely forced and contrived.

The film does have moments of humor and some decent standout performances from Brenda Blethyn as Pumpkin's overprotective and domineering mother, and best of all Harry J. Lennix as the "Angry African American" poetry workshop professor who offers such insightful and straightforward criticisms as "This poem of yours is Bullshit. I don't believe a goddamn word you say in it". Sam Ball also has some amusing moments as the Jock boyfriend who can't believe he's being dumped for a retard.

Despite some occasional bits of laughter or insight, Pumpkin is a draggy, uninspired attempt at satire. Like a grinning Jack O' Lantern, its apparent glee is derived from a lobotomy, having had all its vital essence scooped out and discarded. As for DVD special features - don't ask me. I couldn't pop this one into the Netflix mailer and send it back to the pumpkin patch fast enough.

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originally posted: 03/12/03 07:37:45
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2002 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2002 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2002 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2002 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/21/08 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 4 stars
12/10/07 art ingenius satire on class-differences 4 stars
8/18/06 wiercia !!!! 5 stars
10/24/05 corinne i saw this on lifetime movie network...? whatever, it was still quite enjoyable. 4 stars
4/17/04 Michael Greenwaldt Smart and wickedly hilarious! A highly underrated film! Christina Ricci is great! 5 stars
5/02/03 Goombah Johnson Ricci's headlights were on for the entire flick. Loved that! 3 stars
3/25/03 Butterbean It goes past campy to annoyingly stupid, but a nice romance remains there to be seen 2 stars
3/12/03 Whatever Jones At first I thought it was good, until I realized it's stupid, pretentious, and hypocritical 1 stars
3/08/03 F. Salmeri campy with a serious side. A moving story about the integration of light with dark. 4 stars
3/07/03 Taylor Fladgate Did John Waters secretly direct this movie? 4 stars
1/17/03 LF one of the worst movies Ive ever seen. Ricci is a horrible actress and the plot sucked 1 stars
11/25/02 jksfsdkl interesting (although flawed) film. ricci and harris are outstanding! 4 stars
5/19/02 chris griffin one of the funniest films i've ever seen 5 stars
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  28-Jun-2002 (R)



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