Christina Ricci has done many different roles over the course of her career, and it is safe to say that most of them have been strange ones, and most of them have been off of the beaten track. In Pumpkin, things are no different except that she is playing the last role you expected her to play: a sorority girl. Ricci pulls it off fine; director Adam Larson Broder, however, fails to pull off the movie.
Pumpkin is about a sorority girl from a rich and rather conceited family who, as a part of a sorority competition takes part in helping out a group of mentally disabled students that are competing in track and field events. She's skeptical about the whole idea at first, but she quickly finds a place in her heart for "her" student - the strangely named Pumpkin - and eventually falls in love with him, despite having a boyfriend and friends that despise the idea. Pumpkin's mother doesn't like the thought, either.
Pumpkin is a pretty strange movie, but not how you would expect. It is a fairly straightforward movie, but there is a surreal ness about it. Unfortunately, you can't tell whether it is intentional or not. Ricci, as a sorority girl, has that falsity about her that is common in so many movies about ditzy girls. Nonetheless, here the apparent satirical nature of the script doesn't seem all that intentional, especially as the movie develops. All of the characters don't sound completely real, and suspicions are confirmed when Pumpkin starts treading into more dramatic territory.
At first, Pumpkin is funny. The not-so-real dialogue, combined with some odd situations, makes for some laugh-out-loud scenes. Watching Dominique Swain freak out when she tries to help her mentally disabled "partner" is sort of entertaining first, but as time goes on, and you realize that this was a serious attempt and trying to describe her reaction to the unknown, you begin to wonder just what the hell these actors were thinking getting into a film like this.
So, Ricci starts hanging out with her mentally disabled friend Pumpkin and starts to fall for him. Pumpkin falls for her as well, but some things happen along the way that just do not make much sense. Maybe I am wrong, but it is my understanding that if someone is mentally disabled, then they are mentally disabled. It is not a disease that can just be cured. Someone who is mentally disabled can be stimulated, given the right circumstances, and perhaps start reacting to the world a little more "normally." In Pumpkin, Pumpkin can barely speak or walk at the beginning of the film. By the end, he has somehow learned how to walk almost normally and speak much better. I just don't believe that this could actually happen, to the extent that takes place in the story.
There are other cheesy events that take place throughout the film. Ricci's boyfriend, crying profusely, drives off a 200-foot cliff. The car for some reason explodes on the way down, yet he somehow survives miraculously without any burns, although he is paralyzed for life. The dumbest moment of the movie takes place when Ricci notifies her poetry teacher that she is dropping out of school; as she drives away, he falls to his knees in what is supposed to be some dramatic moment. Horribly cheesy if you ask me.
Pumpkin has its funny moments, but it has its fair share of stupidity as well. It is unintentionally cheesy, and only gets worse as the story drags on.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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