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Awfully Good: Pumpkin

Following GIGLI last week, my girlfriend suggested I look at another movie about love and mental retardation. I enjoy not getting kicked in the balls, so here we are.


Pumpkin (2002)

Director: Anthony Abrams, Adam Larson Brodert
Stars: Christina Ricci, Hank Harris, Marisa Coughlan


Is there a plot?

A sorority girl who has a perfect, sheltered life, volunteers with the Special Olympics and rapes falls in love with the mentally handicapped boy she's supposed to mentor.

What's the damage?

Had it been done any differently or any better, PUMPKIN could've been a great satire on class and social structures or an involving look at unspeakable taboos in our society. Instead, PUMPKIN has the uncomfortable depravity of a Todd Solondz movie that's handled with the finesse of the Farrelly Brothers.

Christina Ricci in my dreams.

It's probably easier if I just tell you exactly what happens. To start, you should know that Christina Ricci's character Carolyn is a really bad person. Spoiled, sheltered and naïve to an alarming degree, she treats Pumpkin (the unexplained name of the titular handicapped kid) and his challenged friends as if they're diseased aliens. (Take a shot every time screams in horror at a special person!) Like most sorority girls, Carolyn isn't used to things that aren't perfect and beautiful. This leads to great, uncomfortable scenes where our main character proudly sets up the crippled, retarded boy with a fat girl, because in her world both of them are "different"—and thus the same. When this naturally doesn't work out, Carolyn gets upset and cluelessly leaves Pumpkin stranded on a beach in his wheelchair for about 8 hours.

Christina Ricci in my real life.

So how does ol' Pumpkin get Daddy's Princess to fall in love with him? The same way most guys try to get in to a girl's pants—he says he likes her for her brains! (Ha!) There’s literally no other catalyst for the film’s main romance, other than the fact that he used the oldest line in the book. As soon as Carolyn hears Pumpkin call her smart, she starts going on about how he has a good soul and a kind heart. Then she becomes something of an emo rebel, writing awful poetry about the pain of waspy suburban life and questioning her existence. Meanwhile, thanks to the power of love, Pumpkin goes from being a wheelchair-bound, stuttering recluse to a confident, talkative athlete. (Christina Ricci must have a magical healing vagina.)

Don't you hate it whenever you open a door and that happens?

All of this is amusingly weird and bad, but the final 40 minutes is where PUMPKIN truly nosedives in to Awfully Good territory. After Carolyn pretty much rapes Pumpkin in the eyes of the law, she goes in to a weird downward spiral of depression where she tries to commit suicide by swallowing pills and drinking…contact solution? Eventually Carolyn's original jock boyfriend Kent shows up to reconcile and take her to the big school dance, only to find that Pumpkin and his ragtag team of fellow Special Olympians (one of which I swear was in the movie HEAVY WEIGHTS) shows up to make one last stand for love. What ensues is an actual fist fight between the college's star tennis player and a mentally challenged kid, who until recently was crippled in a wheelchair. Of course, instead of stopping this tasteless insanity, the entire campus gathers around the brawling odd couple to watch. Once again powered by a newfound love for Christina Ricci's private parts, Pumpkin is somehow able to defeat the collegiate-level athlete, causing him to run away effeminately in embarrassment. Carolyn makes a speech to the crowd about how "Pumpkin is not going to sit in the back of the bus anymore!" before defiantly taking her handicapped beau inside to dance.

They might not have been efficient, but Handicapable Lawn Care sure was entertaining.

A normal movie would cut its losses and end here. But not PUMPKIN! Next we see Carolyn's ex-boyfriend Kent tearfully drive off in to the night, before his car accidentally swerves off a cliff and explodes. Why does his car explode, you ask? Perhaps because the production could not afford an actual car crash, so they literally reused footage from the movie HUDSON HAWK. No joke. Somehow the boyfriend manages to survive a fiery 200-foot plummet without any cuts or scratches, but ironically he is now wheelchair bound…just like Pumpkin! Pumpkin then comes to visit Kent, bringing with him a giant phallic plant, and the next thing you know the former enemy becomes their Special Olympics coach. Carolyn shows up to Pumpkin's big race, bolstering our handicapped hero to victory. And since winning is all that matters, everyone—the boyfriend, the evil sorority sisters, Pumpkin's over protective mother—joyously comes together in the end, ignoring the fact that Carolyn will continue to legally rape Pumpkin happily ever after.

Not long after her wedding to Casper, Kat realized that she had in fact just married a dead little boy.

I get that PUMPKIN is probably supposed to be taken as a satire, but it's so poorly put together that I think a lot of the supposed humor is unintentionally funny. Tonally, it can't decide how it wants to treat its subject—with humor, tragedy, inspiration or mockery. And I haven't even touched on other major faults, like the stereotypically angry and anti-establishment black poetry teacher or the bizarre choice of music, which ranges from horror movie tones to a 50s spy movie riff to a REQUIEM FOR A DREAM ripoff that's used to inject drama in to scenes that absolutely don’t need it.

"Best" Line

Some great lines courtesy of Christina Ricci's awkward romance with a mentally handicapped guy. I'm guessing "You've raped my son!" was not meant to be this funny.


"Best" Parts

1) Some unintentionally funny moments from the film's third act, including the jock fighting a retarded kid, a hilariously bad car crash (stolen from HUDSON HAWK) and some seriously overdramatic exchanges.

2) Some more awkward moments with people yelling at the handicapped, plus a bonus sports montage featuring a very bouncy Christina Ricci.


Nudity Watch

Christina Ricci, Dominique Swain, Marisa Coughlan, and Amy Adams are all in the movie and not naked. You do get some nameless sideboob during a brief sex scene though.


Enjoyableness
Continuum:

Wednesday Addams, how you've grown! Buy this movie here!


Play Along at Home!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • Somebody says "Anne Chung"
  • Someone runs away funny
  • Pumpkin falls down
  • You can see Christina Ricci's nipples through her shirt, perv.

  • Double shot if:

    • Somebody screams dramatically


    Thanks to Jillian for suggesting this week's movie!


    Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email and give him an excuse to drink.

Source: Digital Dorm
Tags: awfully good

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