***.7 GM
Starring: Christina Ricci, Sam Ball, Marisa Coughlan, Hank Harris, Brenda Blethyn, Dominique Swain


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This flick had some moments of sheer genius.

It starts out as a relatively standard satire of upper-crust sorority types - quite the easy target, but always worthy - with a slight John Waters/Tim Burton/We'll-Let-You-Know-When-You're-Taking-Things-Too-Seriously sort of feel to it. Christina Ricci is Carolyn, a perfect little sorority girl with a beautiful boyfriend and an unspoiled life. But when the little Greek enclave helps out the "Challenged Games" forcing them to actually pay attention to handicapped people, she starts to realize life can actually be unpleasant occasionally, and she starts to become obsessed with her charge, the wheelchair-bound Pumpkin. Yes, that's his name. Of course, things get really weird, as no one approves of their friendship on either side and she begins to spiral into depression and anxiety and a possible nervous breakdown. It's a comedy!

And it's damn funny. All sorts of material that would usually be unheard of permeates the film, addressing uncomfortable subjects with a comedy javelin... or something like that. There are all sorts of ludicrous event-turns and melodramatic insanity, and if it starts to wander into too-deep territory, something completely absurd will happen to remind you where your head needs to be. The performances actually manage to walk that fine line between realistic depth and bombastic caricature, most notably with Sam Ball as Kent, Carolyn's tennis star boyfriend. He could easily just become the standard 'jerk boyfriend jock' type, but he never really does. Even when he slips into bully mode, it doesn't seem to quite fit him. It doesn't hurt that he's got some really funny bits, too.

Ricci hardly looks like your standard sorority type, but she pulls it off perfectly as she grows closer to Harris' Pumpkin. The relationship isn't entirely believable, but the film knows this and has fun with it anyway. Taking subject matter that people are afraid of and turning it into a biting little comedy, "Pumpkin" is quite the interesting film and well worth watching. I was in the proverbial stitches for a good deal of it.

Kent's after-prom driving sequence makes the movie. Check this one out.

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