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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Pumpkin

Starring: Christina Ricci, Marisa Coughlan
Director: Tony Abrams
Rated: R
RunTime: 117 Minutes
Release Date: June 2002
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Samuel Ball, Dominique Swain, Brenda Blethyn, Hank Harris, Harry J. Lennix, Nina Foch, Caroline Aaron, Melissa McCarthy

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Harvey Karten review follows movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review

Review by Harvey Karten
2½ stars out of 4

While Woody Allen hinted that movie directors may be blind in "Hollywood Ending," directors Adam Larson Broder and Tony R. Abrams go a step further albeit without much originality of theme when they show that love can be blind as well. What does a woman see in a man that enables her to love him? Some sociologists indicate that we really see ourselves; witness the number of couples who resemble each other physically down to the color of their hair and eyes. But can we talk to the ones we love? That could well indicate how long a union can remain tight: we know that many a young person marries in haste and repents at leisure after discovering that once the hormones fall under restraint, there's nothing left.

If we take "Pumpkin" to its natural conclusion, i.e. try to figure out what would happen to lovebirds Carolyn (Christina Ricco) and her latest beau, Pumpkin (Hank Harris) were they to continue their soulful relationship, we cannot be too optimistic. After all, what do they have in common?

"Pumpkin" is in part an elementary treatise on what's called love and on a more superficial level a mildly satiric take on sororities; one that tries to skewer the airheads in two Greek- letter organizations but without the vulgarity of a John Landis, who took aim at the easy target of college bubble heads in "National Lampoon's Animal House." The targets are easy ones: prejudiced people and acolytes of rigid political correctness are slammed equally as are rich parents who throw money at their kids but do not even attempt to understand them. "Pumpkin" is light and entertaining summer fare but falls apart at times because of logical flaws and silly motivations.

In this story Carolyn is a college senior (a millionaire's daughter in a PUBLIC college?) and a sister in Alpha Omega Pi sorority, whose members are locked in a tight competition with the all-blond airheads across the street for Sorority of the Year. The group's president, Julie (Marisa Coughlan), impresses on Carolyn the importance of her showing up at the annual prom with handsome tennis star Kent (Sam Ball), as their mere presence would somehow grant points to the group. Another way of scoring point is to mentor young men who are mentally challenged so that they can participate in the Challenge Games. Carolyn draws wheelchair-bound Pumpkin, and is at first repulsed by his neurological condition and seeming inability to communicate verbally. Predictably, though, she grows to love the challenged fellow because Pumpkin can "understand her," can "see her soul," something her jock boyfriend Kent cannot. Community reactions are all negative: the AOPi prexy insists that they're not supposed to love the people for whom they perform charitable service, Kent is furious at being quickly shunted aside, and Pumpkins' mom, Judy Romanoff (Brenda Blethyn), who should be overjoyed, instead accuses Carolyn of raping the hapless young man.

"Pumpkin" should have ended with Carolyn's becoming older and wiser and realizing that if her sorority sisters do not like what she is doing, that's their problem. The sisters, for their part, should not have been permitted by Broder's script to be converted to Carolyn's way of thinking; and no way should Pumpkin be able to chuck his wheelchair and become the star performer in a Challenged Games relay race. Worst of all is the way the story treats Kent, who would probably want to kill the disabled fellow who ousts him from the competition for Carolyn's hand and who never should have survived a car crash that has him plunge over a cliff at 100 mph, his auto exploding, and his turning up without a single burn mark on his face.

Copyright 2002 Harvey Karten

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