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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