"The Inkwell" does a good job of recreating life in the 1970's. The film, about a black family vacationing at Martha's Vineyard, is all disco music and big afro hair. For those with a nostalgic streak that can overlook the gaucheness of the period, this movie spins a unique perspective on growing up in that decade. But once it reaches its stride, "The Inkwell" plays out like any other coming-of-age film.
Kenny (Joe Morton) and Brenda (Suzzanne Douglas) Tate pack up their 16-year-old son Drew (Larenz Tate) for a two week stay at a posh island resort. Drew, who isn't good around people and whose only friend is a wooden doll, doesn't want to go on the vacation but isn't given the opportunity to bow out. The family will stay with Brenda's sister (Vanessa Bell Calloway), whose husband (Glynn Turman) is a snob and whose teenage son (Duane Martin) is more than happy to introduce Drew to the local girls. One of them in particular, Lauren Kelly (Jada Pinkett), catches Drew's eye, but she seems to be out of his league.
Although shy to a fault, Drew loosens up with the aid of a local psychiatrist who, among other things, changes his 'fro to a Michael Jackson-ish hair style. This difference in his appearance gives him the confidence to pursue Lauren, despite the appearance that she is playing him for a fool. Just when we think that Lauren may actually be succumbing to his charms, the film turns into a horny teen flick which finds Drew ending up in the arms of al older woman. This particular scene drew groans and hoots from the entire audience at the screening which I attended.
"The Inkwell" started off to be something more than the usual teen drama, but dashed away its atypical viewpoint by settling into the same old patterns. Surely there must be more to growing up than this.