Cast against type, Christina Ricci plays a blond princess from Pasadena with a hunky tennis champ (Sam Ball) as a boyfriend. She’s horrified when her college sorority selects Challenged Games as its off-campus charity, and frustrated when her naive ploy to match up the challenged athlete named Pumpkin she’s been assigned to mentor (Hank Harris) with an overweight friend ends in disaster. But then she falls in love with Pumpkin herself, her world falls apart, and all sorts of melodramatic developments ensue. This nervy feature starts off as satire, then turns into campy, hyperbolically overdetermined soap opera that might be even more purposeful insofar as one can’t hoot at it without considering what a more reasonable approach to such a subject might be, unpacking one’s own complacency in the process. Ricci herself is one of the producers and Francis Ford Coppola one of the executive producers, Brenda Blethyn (Secrets & Lies) plays Pumpkin’s misguided mother, and Adam Larson Broder and Tony R. Abrams, as codirectors of Broder’s script, make the weird transition from satire to camp as if there were no distinction between the two. It’s a bracing if at times bewildering experience. With Dominique Swain, Marisa Coughlan, Harry Lennix, and Nina Foch. 113 min. (JR)

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