Pumpkin (2002)

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Released 21-Jan-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 112:45
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:27) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Anthony Abrams
Adam Larson Broder
Studio
Distributor
Capitol Films
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Christina Ricci
Hank Harris
Brenda Blethyn
Dominique Swain
Marisa Coughlan
Samuel Ball
Harry J. Lennix
Nina Foch
Caroline Aaron
Lisa Banes
Julio Oscar Mechoso
Phil Reeves
Marisa Petroro
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music John Ottman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     If you've seen this film before and have been waiting impatiently for its release, my comments are of no value to you. Please proceed directly to the technical aspects of the review.

      Pumpkin is a turkey.

     The film that is, not necessarily the title character, who's pretty much the only individual within it who doesn't entirely cover himself with ignominy.

      But I rush ahead of myself. Here is the story. Carolyn McDuffy (Christina Ricci) is a Reece Witherspoon act-alike in this sorority satire. She is privileged, blonde, perky and oh-so-popular with her sisters of Alpha Omega Pi. In their quest to win Sorority of the Year, the diminutive band of feral females decide to play the bleeding heart ticket by offering coaching services to Riverside's Challenged Athletes. Despite her protests that this is somehow distasteful, our little hero, Carolyn acquiesces to the all-powerful insistence of sorority queen, Julie Thurber (Marisa Coughlan) and thus she tentatively meets Pumpkin Romanoff (Hank Harris). As she slowly overcomes her aversion, Pumpkin begins to inveigle his way into her thoughts and her life, in spite of the horror of all concerned.

      Her first attempts to introduce him into her life are disastrous. She attempts to create a double beach date with herself, her chinny bok all-star boyfriend, Kent Woodlands (Sam Ball), the infatuated Pumpkin, and her amply proportioned girlfriend, Cici (Melissa McCarthy). Cici takes very deep personal exception to being considered a suitable date for Pumpkin, a view heartily supported by Kent, who insists that Carolyn has no sensitivity whatsoever to the situation. Err, he's got a point - Carolyn takes Cici home, then Kent, then runs a few errands before realising she's left poor Pumpkin on the beach. When she finally realises her error, she thoughtlessly delivers him to his front garden, leaving him to struggle with his wheelchair himself. Needless to say, Pumpkin's mother, Judy (Brenda Blethyn) is beginning to have very grave doubts indeed about Carolyn's influence on her "special" son.

      For Carolyn, life is going from bad to worse. She can't get Pumpkin out her head, which is definitely having a positive influence on the quality of her poetry, but also necessitates a visit to the ineffectual college psychologist. For the first time in her life, she is encountering pain and she's not enjoying the experience very much. Kent insists that everything is her fault, a cry that becomes echoed by Julie and the killer queens of the sorority. In spite of universal opposition, Carolyn and Pumpkin continue to build a relationship that culminates in the silliest Sorority Ball ever filmed. Without providing any spoilers, Kent and Pumpkin square off for the final countdown, and the auspicious night changes everyone's life forever.

      What's so bad about this movie? Well, for starters, it just doesn't work. It appears to struggle at times with its own focus, resulting in a melange of ill-formed ideas and half-baked humour. The script is laced to the gills with clichés and old standards, but lacks the subtlety to present this as ironic. Lacking in that elevated cleverness, the story just feels as dumb as the characters that blockily stomp across it. Ricci, who is normally superlative, just looks like someone's trod on her toes throughout the entire film. The viewer "gets" the joke, and it's a pretty singular joke, early in the film, and from there it's a very long ride to the final credits. Yes, we know it's a parody, but unfortunately, it actually becomes a parody of itself.

      It was a full house when this film was shown at my place. Present was my stepdaughter aged 27 (the one who loved Baby..Secret of the Lost Legend), my daughter aged 17, my niece aged 16, my husband aged 57 and myself, 41 (there's all the family secrets out in the open.) Judging by the collective response we had to the film, it's hard to know exactly to whom it's pitched. Because one never finds oneself particularly engaged in the story, it leaves plenty of time to pick at all the plot holes and plausibility chasms.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced which is true to its original format.

     The disc is overall rather soft, although detail itself is still not too bad. There is no low level noise and the grain levels are fine.

     Colour rendition is actually quite good, with a wide spectrum displayed and accurate, pleasing skin tones.

     Aliasing is quite significant throughout - I've never seen a beach shimmer like it does at 33:05. There is also telecine wobble through the opening credits which never really augers well for a presentation. There are film to video artefacts present throughout and pan shots jitter throughout the movie.

     Subtitles are fine; clear, a little abbreviated, but mostly timely.

     The layer change placed in Chapter 16, at 54:27, is quite apparent.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     There is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack only on this disc.

     The dialogue was easy to understand most of the time, but there was a vague hiss apparent at times which was most distracting. Audio sync however, was fine.

     Presumably the musical score by John Ottman was likewise supposed to be ironic and amusing. To me, it just came across as either pedestrian or misjudged. Looking at his background, it seems he's scored for quite a number of schlokky typed pseudo horror genre films. It shows.

     The surround channels were adequately used, but by no means intensely and even the subwoofer was mostly quite subdued.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

     The menu design is static and silent with a photograph from the feature.

Theatrical Trailer (2:00)

     This actually makes the film look interesting - the cunning fiends!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

      The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

     Both versions are equally good, and there is no compelling reason to prefer one over the other so proximity will probably make your choice.

Summary

      Pumpkin's sweet moments are so sugary that they make your teeth shudder and its ironic moments are as subtle as an episode of The Osbournes. It is long on film and short on ideas. As vacuous and vapid as the sorority queens themselves, a leaden script, overstylised acting style, and tedious approach make this a very ordinary film. A shame really - the premise was quite interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Sunday, January 11, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

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