Thursday, June 4, 2009
Inventing the Abbotts
Inventing the Abbotts, a 1997 drama flick, was on television the other day, and I couldn't help but watch it. The title sounds like it's memorable and notable--culturally significant--and I guess I'm trying to figure out why. Not that it was terrible, but I'm trying to find its importance and significance.
Iventing the Abbotts was based on a short story by Sue Miller--has anyone read it to compare to the film?--about teenagers in the 1950s. For those wanting to depict teenage life in the 1950s, this one is pretty good. Fancy parties, dancing, sex, drinking, trying to maintain the clean image but trying to be "bad," etc. It is a bit over-the-top for a classroom, but parts of it would be clean enough to show.
The movie is about this prestigious, upscale, rich family in this small town: the Abbotts. The father owns a company and has tons of money to throw away at parties (many of the central scenes in the movie). He has a few daughters who are all different in their own way, but they are all remarkably beautiful (two are played by Jennifer Connelly and Liv Tyler). Connelly's character is more daring and dangerous while Tyler is more reserved.
The focus remains on two boys, Jacey and Doug, who are brothers. Jacey is older and is more hotheaded; Doug is younger and more cautious, but he wants to be like his brother. Their father died a while ago, when Doug was born, so they are raised by a single mother. A rumor exists that their mother gave up the company to Mr. Abbott after an affair. Jacey resents his mother and the Abbotts, seeking revenge on them all. Thus, he tries to (and eventually does) court each girl, sleeping with them, to try to sleep his way into the family. Each time, Mr. Abbott breaks up the relationship, sending the daughter away somehow.
However, Doug is in love with the youngest daughter played by Liv Tyler. They have a playful, loving relationship, but Tyler's character ends their relationship during high school because of the turmoil caused by Jacey's actions. She doesn't want to be associated with that name and family.
Doug then goes to college, following his brother to Pennsylvania, where he studies theatre design. He eventually runs into Tyler's character, Pam, and he tries to pursue her but Pam is resistant. We find out she is resistant because she has been sleeping with Jacey. Doug is devistated, punching his brother, ignoring him, and keeping in private. He eventually comes to terms with it once his mother passes away, a reason for them both to come back together. Doug ends up finding Pam again, and the movie ends with them getting back together.
An earlier line in the film stated that Jacey had "invented the Abbotts," and if they didn't exist, he would have invented them anyway. Now, I'm trying to think of the significance of these lines and the title.
To Jacey, the Abbotts were something that he devoted his life to either destroying or becoming a part of it. He would destroy it if they shunned him, but he was FOCUSED on their family, obsessed. Maybe he needed something to taget and focus on because there was nothing else. He needed someone to blame for his father's death and some way to punish someone.
Not to mention, Mr. Abbott also sold his father the car that he drove over the ice to his death. Mr. Abbott also dared his father to go across the frozen lake for ten dollars. Jacey placed a lot of blame on him even though we find out in the end that Jacey's father fairly sold the company to Mr. Abbott for the car (as a trade), and that there never was any affair. Mr. Abbott was only consoling Jacey's mother after the death of their father.
So, what is inventing the Abbotts? Were they really not the luster they were cracked up to be? Did Jacey "invent" who he thought they were? Do people need some higher authority to fantasize about or blame?
The movie was pretty interesting because it included popular actors when they were young: Jennifer Connelly, Joaquin Phoenix, Liv Tyler, Billy Crudup. It was a bit dramatic, but it is worth watching.
So, what does the title mean and what do you think of the movie?