Pumpkin sits in a patch somewhere between mirthless Todd Solondzian satire and callow student film. Hank Harris plays the nicknamed title character, a mentally disabled young man with sweet-thing eyes, who is assigned for athletic coaching to Carolyn (Christina Ricci, illegally blond), a timeless, consummately clueless Southern California sorority girl. Her sisters see their ''challenged athletes'' as do-gooder projects created by God to earn them points as Sorority of the Year; Carolyn messes with nature (and her own popularity) by falling in love with Pumpkin, to the horror of everyone else in her bubble-domed universe.
As PC busting goes, this first feature directed by Tony R. Abrams and scribe Adam Larson Broder shoots at close range, and there's something endearing about the way the filmmakers fire away so eagerly at such fluorescent-colored targets. But that still doesn't get them off the hook for the dragging, lurching look and shape of the storytelling, or for the challenged, unsure performances of the actors -- including Brenda Blethyn, miscast as Pumpkin's overprotective wine-soaked mother.