Inventing the Abbotts (1997)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
The lives of two closely linked, small town Illinois families dangerously intersect in this domestic drama set in the 1950s, based on a short story by Sue Miller and directed by Pat O'Connor. Though they are from the wrong side of the tracks, the working class brothers Jacey (Billy Crudup) and Doug Holt (Joaquin Phoenix) are in love with the wealthy and beautiful Abbott sisters. Shy and quiet Doug, who worships his womanizing brother, has eyes for the iconoclastic Pam (Liv Tyler), but Jacey's affections are more calculating; he's interested in whichever Abbott sister is interested in him. At first, this is Eleanor (Jennifer Connelly), the "wild" sister, but eventually Jacey sets his sights on the divorced oldest sister, Alice (Joanna Going). For Jacey, his conquest of the Abbotts is a form of economic revenge, as he believes that the head of the family, Lloyd (Will Patton), stole a patent that made him rich from the Holts' late father. When he's eventually revealed as an embittered cad, Jacey's mistreatment of the Abbott girls makes the genuine affection between Doug and Pam impossible for either family to accept. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi … More
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as Doug Holt
as Jacey Holt
as Pamela Abbott
as Lloyd Abbott
as Helen Holt
as Eleanor Abbott
as Alice Abbott
as Joan Abbott
as Peter Vanlaningham
as Giggling Girl No. 1
as Giggling Girl No. 2
as Webb Crosby
as Store Clerk
as Mrs. Porter
as Funeral Director
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Critic Reviews for Inventing the Abbotts
Cast of newcomers is appealing, but this small-town melodrama is so old-fashioned and out-of-touch with contemporary youth that it feels as if it were made the same time that its story is set, in 1957.
Would be a lot more fun were it a trashy Troy Donahue-Diane McBain vehicle ground out by Warner Bros. in 1960.
Audience Reviews for Inventing the Abbotts
Love no matter what.
Good Film! I found this to be a sweet and emotional film. The story takes you back in time, and brilliantly captures the attitudes and prejudices of small town life. Every actor in this film gives such a genuine performance that you can't help being sucked into their world, a world where what is said by the rich can either save or condemn as they see fit. Each location used in the film leaves an imprint on you, from the garage where the brothers always unite over a game of ping-pong to the romance of the abandoned farm where the sparks of love really begin to fly. "Inventing the Abbotts" is a coming of age story that captures the awkwardness of adolescence without all the cheese that so often pervades the genre. It is a tale of love and lust, rich and poor, pure and simple. All in all, "Inventing the Abbotts" is a splendid movie that *somehow* teaches you to love "no matter what".
Set in the 1950s, Inventing the Abbotts is a dramatic look at the life of two boys from the wrong side of the tracks and their interaction with the three daughters of local aristocrat Lloyd Abbott. The boys, Jacey and Doug Holt, have only three things in common: their family, table tennis and chasing the beautiful Abbott sisters. Their father, a reckless risk-taker, lost his life through a wager with Lloyd Abbott, his then business partner.
I can remember watching this one a few years back and really being not impressed. However, I really couldn't remember a lot about it, so when I saw this as a free rental, decided I wound give it another go.
I have to say it was nowhere near as bad as I remembered. It is a fairly subdued film, no one in it is terribly happy and added to that, it is set in the 50's. Not a great time for women, I would say. No wonder the 3 Abbott girls have issues! Liv Tyler is pleasant here, where Jennifer Connelly I found a little less so, but really she is not in it enough to matter. She's not awful, but I just don't buy her as that character. Joaquin Phoenix was the real surprise here. I am not generally a fan, but he nails it here. Quite compelling. I am thinking I will check out some other films he is in.
Overall not one I would recommend chasing down, but not bad, and possibly just perfect viewing on an insomnia night, as it was for me, if you happen to catch it on tv.
Joaquin Phoenix and Liv Tyler play excellent children.
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