Pumpkin (film)

Pumpkin is a 2002 romantic dark comedy film starring Christina Ricci. It is a story of forbidden love between a developmentally-handicapped young man and a sorority girl. The film was directed by Anthony Abrams and Adam Larson Broder and written by Broder.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byAnthony Abrams
Adam Larson Broder
Written byAdam Larson Broder
Produced byKaren Barber
Albert Berger
Christina Ricci
Andrea Sperling
Ron Yerxa
StarringChristina Ricci
Hank Harris
Brenda Blethyn
CinematographyTim Suhrstedt
Edited byRichard Halsey
Sloane Klevin
Music byJohn Ottman
Distributed byMGM Distribution Co.
Release date
  • June 28, 2002 (2002-06-28)
Running time
117 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$308,552[1]


Carolyn McDuffy is a college senior beginning her last year of studies at an elite Southern California university. In an effort to help her sorority win a coveted award that has eluded them in the past years, Carolyn joins them in training some handicapped young adults for the Challenged Games (a fictional version of the Special Olympics). Carolyn is paired with Jesse "Pumpkin" Romanoff, and is horrified, mostly because she has never been in such an environment. Pumpkin is kind towards her and soon she finds herself developing affection toward him because he is genuine, unlike her boyfriend Kent Woodlands, or her sorority sisters, as led by Julie Thurber.

Carolyn experiences backlash and disdain about the relationship from her friends and family, including Pumpkin's own mother, Judy, despite the fact that Carolyn's love has inspired Pumpkin to get out of his wheelchair and become the best athlete on the team. Judy later walks into her son's room and discovers that Carolyn and Pumpkin have been sexually involved. Pumpkin's mother accuses her of raping her son, claiming Carolyn "has no idea what she has done" to Pumpkin. Pumpkin's mother calls Carolyn's school, causing Carolyn to be kicked out of both her sorority and expelled from the university. Carolyn makes a suicide attempt by taking most of the pills and solutions from her medicine cabinet, but survives after vomiting the substances.

After hearing of Carolyn's suicide attempt, the sorority convinces the university to allow her back in, and she is invited to attend a sorority ball with Kent; Julie feels the couple's attendance will help the sorority secure their award. At the ball, Pumpkin and his friends crash the party to allow Pumpkin a dance with Carolyn. Kent confronts Pumpkin and punches him repeatedly, who responds by tackling Kent to the ground, temporarily knocking him unconscious. Humiliated, Kent leaves the dance. Carolyn tries to take Pumpkin inside to the dance, but Julie and the sorority sisters block the door. Carolyn pushes her way through with Pumpkin and they dance alone. Soon, other attendees are impelled to join them on the dance floor.

Kent leaves the dance in his car, sobbing and driving erratically. He swerves to avoid a truck and plunges off a cliff with the car exploding in mid-air, crashing to the bottom. Carolyn goes to the hospital to check on Kent and finds that he is now paraplegic, though not burned from the explosion. He blames Carolyn for his problems and she is left distraught. Carolyn drops out of college, swearing off Pumpkin forever. The sorority stops helping the team and their rival sorority wins the award. Carolyn enrolls at a public university, opening up to her peers who encourage her.

The sorority sisters have a change of heart and show up at the Olympic event. Kent is now the coach for Pumpkin's team and has become both a motivator and humble person. Pumpkin races his rival, a bully who berates Pumpkin at every chance given. Pumpkin is motivated by Kent, telling him to win it for Carolyn and saying she wouldn't want him to lose. As he is running, he sees Carolyn in the stands and gets a sudden boost of energy. Pumpkin wins the race, and at the finish line is congratulated by the sorority sisters, his mother, and Kent. Carolyn comes down to see Pumpkin as his mother is hugging him. She endears him to Carolyn, finally accepting her son's progress into a man. As Carolyn and Pumpkin walk off together, she asks him what name she should call him, and he replies that "Pumpkin will be fine." Carolyn glances back at those behind her with an ambiguous expression before continuing ahead.



Critical responseEdit

Pumpkin received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the movie so far has a score of 36% and an average rating of 4.9/10.[2] On Metacritic the film has a score of 46 out of 100 based on reviews from 24 critics.[3]

One of the most positive reviews was by Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun-Times; he wrote, "Pumpkin is alive, and takes chances, and uses the wicked blade of satire in order to show up the complacent political correctness of other movies in its campus genre."[4] Michael O'Sullivan of the Washington Post also approved of the film, calling it "an odd and oddly endearing romantic black comedy."[citation needed] On the other end of the spectrum, Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote that the film "gets along on curiosity value for a while, but becomes increasingly unconvincing and ludicrous as it staggers endlessly toward the finish line."[5]

Box office and DVDEdit

Pumpkin opened in American theatres on June 28, 2002, in a limited release. It grossed $30,514 in eight theatres in its first weekend, with a per-screen-average of $3,814. The film expanded to 19 theatres the following weekend, but its theatre count declined from there. Pumpkin completed its theatrical run four months later with a final gross of $308,552.[6]

Since its DVD release, the film has become a cult hit. It is often recognized as one of the first examples of genre bending[citation needed]. Ricci herself has called it "a great movie"[7] and Jeff Weiss of Stylus magazine called it "one of the most underrated films of the decade."[8]


  1. ^ Pumpkin at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ "Pumpkin Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  3. ^ https://www.metacritic.com/movie/pumpkin
  4. ^ https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/pumpkin-2002
  5. ^ McCarthy, Todd (18 January 2002). "Pumpkin Review - Variety". Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  6. ^ "Pumpkin at Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  7. ^ Jeff Bond (May 22, 2008). "Christina Ricci interview from Geek Monthly Online". Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  8. ^ Jeff Weiss (2006-08-29). "Pumpkin - A Second Take". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 24 May 2010.

External linksEdit