. Hmm. It’s a head-scratcher. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about, but I’m also kinda happy about not knowing how I feel about it. Though not exactly a good (as in “wholly successful”) flick, its audaciousness makes it worth watching.
It starts out in safe terrain with a bunch of been there, done that, but hilarious, mockings of college sorority life. (The sorority decides to “diversify,” so they recruit a Filipino girl. “Just look at how cute she is!” one of the sisters says. “Plus, she almost looks white!”) Things get steadily weirder as Christina Ricci’s sorority, in an effort to win the coveted “Sorority of the Year” title, decide that they’re going to coach “special people” in this year’s “Challenged Games.” At first, her trainee, a kid named Pumpkin, repulses Ricci to the point where she refuses to work with him. Then, all of a sudden, she begins to be attracted to him. They fuck. Her boyfriend, some impossibly handsome Greek God/ tennis star played by Sam Ball, gets dumped. (“Dude, I’ve heard of girl’s dumping their boyfriends for black guys, or even lesbians, but never
for a retard,” his friend mocks.) The sorority shuns Ricci. Ricci wrestles with herself, trying to decide whether or not to continue her relationship with Pumpkin or to go back to her normal life. Later, we’re treated to a fist-fight between Pumpkin and the tennis star that is a complete spoof of Rebel Without a Cause
and an over-the-top car crash/explosion.
What does it all amount to? Eh, who knows? The movie doesn’t seem to know what it wants to say. We’re never sure when the film is being sincere or when it’s going for laughs and we’re gonna get different messages depending on which way we look at it. Maybe we take the whole love affair at face value. Then the film becomes a Harold and Maude
-type affair, attacking our prejudices against the mentally disabled. But we can’t take it this way, since there are lines like “Pumpkin’s not sitting on the back of the bus anymore!” and “Pumpkin is like Jesse Owens…literally!” that are obvious jokes. So is the movie making fun these Harold and Maude
-type films, asking us just when the line between normal and weird gets crossed? Plus, for it to do this, we have to decide whether or not to accept Ricci’s character as sincere, and the movie refuses to let us do so. We’re in constant doubt of her motivations. Maybe the film, like Dennis Lim says in the Village Voice
(in his typically pompous, blowhard manner), is like Solondz’s Storytelling
and “about how a certain kind of privileged mind-set can come to confuse pity with compassion, and how this humanitarian zeal might even slip into erotic objectification.” (Told you he was pompous.) Maybe it’s all this at once. Who cares? I’m reading reviews, including Mr. Blowhard’s up there, that are complaining about this indecisiveness. I happen to like the ambiguity, whether it’s intentional or not. But most of all, I like the movie’s audacity, it’s I Don’t Give a Fuck attitude. When a movie is this daring (not that it’s all that risqué, just that it tries
to be), it hardly matters what it’s trying to say or even if it tries to say anything. I’m just happy somebody had the balls to make it.
Also, the comparisons between Pumpkin
are inevitable. Both features sex with retards, big, black, domineering Creative Writing professors, and Belle and Sebastion soundtracks. This film is infinitely better than Solondz’s shitty little film.