Yes people, nothing is sacred in film any more. Boldly and hysterically going where the Farrelly Brothers have barely tread, I present to you Adam Larson Broder and Tony R. Abrams satirical “Pumpkin.” The story centers on Carolyn McDuffy (Ricci) , a waspy sorority girl at Southern California State University. The head of her sorority played with obsessively wicked accuracy by Marisa Coughlan is dead set on winning “Sorority of the Year.” As such has chosen as the houses charity, “The Challenged Games” which is basically the Special Olympics.
Enter Carolyn’s “Special Athlete,” Pumpkin Romanoff, a wheelchair-bound mama’s boy who’s vacant, yet sweet eyes are the gateway to his soul. He immediately falls for Carloyn, who does not understand him, his life, his disability or even his purpose on earth. She, like her Sorority sisters and hundreds of movie stars and pro athletes, are only helping out Pumpkin and his friends for a photo opportunity.
Broder and Abrams make you laugh sheepishly, yet loudly as our stereotypes about the handicapped are brought to life via drool and small, yellow buses. I honestly felt bad laughing at the Capri pants wearing Sorority sisters trying to act like they care about their “special athlete,” but the social commentary rings true. Disabled people are on the fringes of society mainly because most people don’t know how to “deal” with them. “Dealing” with them is the fallacy. They are human beings and need to be treated as such.
The film ups the ante as yes, Carolyn starts to fall for Pumpkin after a brutally funny and sad “blind date” she sets up for him. Carolyn’s cover boy, tennis star boyfriend Kent (perfectly played as a fifties teen hero knock-off by Sam Ball) gets dumped and Carolyn’s perfect, white bred Sorority world falls apart as her affection for Pumpkin grows.
Brenda Blethyn plays Pumpkin’s lush mother who refuses to let him try and grow as a person. She tries to keep him her precious little boy, bound to his wheelchair. The film also draws a nice parallel as Carolyn’s parents and family try to make her conform to their mold as well.
Unfortunately, the film takes a nose dive for a good 45 minutes as basically, all the funny goes away. But it rebounds in the last moments and I thought successfully blended satire, high camp and yet another sexual taboo into a really funny movie.
If all those PC’ers out there were having fits over Shallow Hal, I can’t wait until they don’t see “Pumpkin” and tell everyone else not to see it either.