Inventing the Abbotts (1997)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

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 … More

Rating: R (adult situations/language, sex)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Directed By:
Written By: Ken Hixon
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 13, 2001
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment


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 Victor

as Webb Crosby

as Store Clerk

as Principal

as Mrs. Porter

as Waitress

as Funeral Director
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Inventing the Abbotts

All Critics (47) | Top Critics (17)

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.

Full Review… | August 8, 2007
Top Critic

Would be a lot more fun were it a trashy Troy Donahue-Diane McBain vehicle ground out by Warner Bros. in 1960.

January 1, 2000
USA Today
Top Critic

Full Review… | September 7, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Full Review… | April 12, 2002
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Detroit News
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

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.

Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

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.

Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer


Joaquin Phoenix and Liv Tyler play excellent children.

Curtis Lilly

Super Reviewer

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