Inventing the Abbotts (1997) - Rotten Tomatoes

Inventing the Abbotts1997

Inventing the Abbotts (1997)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Inventing the Abbotts Photos

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 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

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Joaquin Phoenix
as Doug Holt
Billy Crudup
as Jacey Holt
Liv Tyler
as Pamela Abbott
Will Patton
as Lloyd Abbott
Kathy Baker
as Helen Holt
Jennifer Connelly
as Eleanor Abbott
Joanna Going
as Alice Abbott
Barbara Williams
as Joan Abbott
Alessandro Nivola
as Peter Vanlaningham
Nicole M. Vassallo
as Giggling Girl No. 1
Amanda Sherman
as Giggling Girl No. 2
Garrett M. Brown
as Webb Crosby
Margaret Ash
as Store Clerk
Clive Rosengren
as Principal
Susan Barnes
as Mrs. Porter
Andrea Post
as Waitress
Jack Cummins
as Funeral Director
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Critic Reviews for Inventing the Abbotts

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (8)

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.

August 8, 2007 | Rating: C
Top Critic

This is the kind of material that might have graced a mid-1950s Universal-International weeper--maybe one adapted from a John O'Hara best-seller filled with descriptions of country clubs. Even then it would have had more energy.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

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 | Rating: 1.5/4
Top Critic

In the end, it adds up to nothing more than a humorless, forgettable nostalgia piece with carefully re-created costumes and settings from the Eisenhower years.

July 1, 2004 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

If looked at in the right perspective, as a soap and not as the serious drama it pretends to be, this is quite diverting, if emotionally hollow, melodrama.

January 18, 2004 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Offers an inventive and engaging exploration of emotional intelligence.

August 26, 2002 | Full Review…

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
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
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer


Joaquin Phoenix and Liv Tyler play excellent children.

Curtis Lilly
Curtis Lilly

Super Reviewer

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