Saturday, July 5, 2014

PUMPKIN (2003)

Directed By: Anthony Abrams & Adam Larson Border 
Written By: Adam Larson Border 
Cinematography By: Tim Suhrstedt 
Editor: Richard Halsey & Sloane Klevin 
Music By: John Ottoman 

Cast: Christina Ricci, Hank Harris, Brenda Blethyn, Dominique Swain, Caroline Aaron, Sam Ball, Marisa Coughlin, Harry Lennix, Nina Foch, Michael Bacall, Melissa McCarthy, Erin Bartlett, Michelle Kruseic, Amy Adams, Shaun Weiss

Perky, perfect Carolyn and her Alpha Omega Pi sisters plan to win Sorority of the Year by impressing the Greek Council with a killer charity: coaching mentally challenged athletes for the regional Challenged Games. When Carolyn's assigned to coach Pumpkin she's terrified at first, but soon sees in him something she's never seen before: a gentle humanity and honest clarity that touches her soul. To the horror of her friends and Pumpkin's overprotective mother, Carolyn falls in love, becoming an outcast in the process. As Carolyn's "perfect life" falls apart, Pumpkin teaches her that perfect isn't always perfect after all.

This film was made when it seems that Christina Ricci had not only take a break from so many indie roles. As she seemed I have a new film coming out every few months and I was glad she was getting all the work. Though not every project was worthy of her talents as a completest at the one It felt a duty to watch them all.It also seemed that her reign as Indie queen was coming to an end. It was a time when the whole frivolous at times Indie movement of the 90's was on the outs. As this film seemed to be one of the last films hat seemed to be released by indie boutique studios. That seemed to put out different yet quirky material. Hoping for the next big surprise hot that was a little controversial. Which this film seemed to try to be. As no great passion seems to go into this film, nor any desire to tell a story or fill a niche market.

I actually looked forward to seeing this film as it seemed to have a more acidic sense of humor. Ala HEATHERS and was college set. So I was hoping for more of a satire. It seeks to have a certain bite but the. Seems to run away from it's convictions and makes the scenes rise only to be watered down.

What you get here is more a film that seeks to send-up and satirize the 1950's melodrama films that were usually made by Douglas Sirk.

The film is a weird hybrid in that to wants to be so many things. For instance it wants to be rebelious and send up all these commonalities though in the end in it's own way t ends up heartwarming and kind of sweet. While trying to embrace as many taboos into it's world. It has graphic sex in a montage though keeps itself clean mostly in it's time period. Being subversive sort of like MAD MEN by exposing these dirty little secrets in a time thought to be so pure and clean. While having a lack of it's own identity

Though it’s hard to put a finger on this film, is it having fun with the taboos or really trying to make a unique love story with some added commentary?

The film is set in the 1950's but seems to have modern landmarks. It also at times seeks to have it's own voice but seems to borrow from John waters. In trying to make the ugly beautiful at times. While trying to make itself seem straight and normal. It often steps into the strange and spoof. So that it feels like a film that is trying hard to be all things I all people, by it's lack of direction and having it's own voice makes whatever message it Is trying to impart weak and hard to understand.

The material is there, it just seems misguided most of the time. It seeks to be campy and yet knows the rules that you usually have to play it straight like comedy and that the moments usually come.

Though throughout seems to try and tip it's hand to achieve the desired effect, but gets more and more away from it as a result.

It's a shame as it feels like a bunch of ideas went into this project. but not as much passion. It's just a film that seems to have needed just a bit more development. Then it might have achieved what it set out to do. Instead of seeming to just disappear.

It's lack of visual strength also impairs it so that it seems like an imitation while trying to seek it's own identity that never appears and makes it a comedy that seems to revel In bad taste, but never the bravery to make it's taste it's own. The sorority also already seems to be an outsider. As all of it's pledges except Christian Ricci's character are brunettes and they seem to be more diverse then any of the others. As while all seem to be Caucasian at least this one has one Asian member. Also all the other sororities seem to have all blonde members who seem to be the same. Showcased by a later sex scene where a jock character has sex with a whole bunch of girls form the sorority, but as he has sex with them the only difference seems to be his expression and the knowledge that time has passed as the women seem to be all the same and move the same and act the same. Except for the actress as the end of this montage who actually has lines and puts the question of doubt in the jocks Mind. Sending him on a mission to get his life back together.

The film also has a strange spirit going for it as it it's clearly supposed to be modern of it's day but everything as far as clothes, demeanor and style seem to be modeled more on the 1950'a and 60's

 Brenda Blythen seems to give the film a certain pedigree, but all for a stereotypical side role that is beneath her.

It's not a bad film to watch. Though as you watch it you just wish it could just be a little bit better. The one thing it does have as an overwhelming strength is a great soundtrack that was never officially released. So that at the time I had to hunt down all of the tracks and make my own mix-tape soundtrack of the film. It's the one thing that rises above everything. Which never got a release. So to find the tunes you have to go on a search of the songs seperately. Which is a shame as it does help shape and give a certain emotional punch it the scenes it is used in.

 Grade: C

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