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Inventing the Abbotts

104 customer reviews

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Forbidden love and impossible dreams intertwine when the handsome working-class Holt brothers are drawn to the beautiful and wealthy Abbott sisters. Sparks fly, passion flare, and family loyalties are suddenly torn and tested against a small town backdrop of social boundaries and dark secrets. Starring Liv Tyler and an all-star cast including Joaquin Phoenix, Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connelly, "Inventing the Abbotts" re-invents the trials and triumphs of coming of age in a time of innocence that was anything but.

A showcase for bright young stars, Inventing the Abbotts aspires to be the kind of 1950s melodrama--like Splendor in the Grass--that was perfected by directors like Elia Kazan and Douglas Sirk. Calling on the strength of his earlier Circle of Friends, Irish director Pat O'Connor brings many of that film's admirable qualities to this similar ensemble piece (set in late-'50s Illinois), but it's held together by looser and weaker threads. And yet this tale of class division and forbidden love is sensitively written and beautifully filmed, highlighted by two young lovers at the center of an interfamilial conflict.

"Alice is the good daughter, Eleanor's the bad one, and I'm the one that just sorta gets off the hook." That's how rich girl Pam Abbott (Liv Tyler) describes herself and her older siblings (Joanna Going and Jennifer Connelly, respectively), whose father made his fortune in manufacturing. Working-class neighbor Jacey Holt (Billy Crudup) has "invented" Mr. Abbott as a villain whose wealth came at the Holts' expense and destroyed the reputation of Jacey's widowed mom (Kathy Baker in a fine but underwritten role). Jacey retaliates by callously bedding each Abbott sister in sequence, but his destructive behavior is countered by younger brother Doug (Joaquin Phoenix), whose love for Pam is sweetly genuine. Memorable scenes abound, and the film's period design is impeccable, but sluggish pacing and filigrees of plot make Inventing the Abbotts a faint echo of its '50s predecessors. The fine cast makes it worthwhile, however, and Michael Keaton's (uncredited) narration adds another layer of retrospective charm. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Featurette

Product Details

  • Actors: Liv Tyler, Jennifer Connelly, Joaquin Phoenix, Billy Crudup, Will Patton
  • Directors: Pat O'Connor
  • Writers: Ken Hixon, Sue Miller
  • Producers: Brian Grazer, Jack Cummins, Janet Meyers, Karen Kehela Sherwood, Ron Howard
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: March 13, 2001
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000056BSF
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,485 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Inventing the Abbotts" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Scott Bright VINE VOICE on August 8, 2001
Format: DVD
Movie Summary: In a small 1950's Illinois town the Abbotts are the family everyone talks about. They are rich and have three beautiful daughters. Their parties are the things of legend in the town. On the other side of the tracks live the Holts. Mrs. Holt has had to raise her two sons, Jacey and Doug, by herself since her husband passed away. The Holts and Abbotts have a long history, some real, some invented. It is this history, the real and the invented, that the Holt brothers have to come to terms with before it destroys them and the Abbotts.
My Opinion: This was a very engaging movie with a great cast. Kathy Baker and Joaquin Phoenix were very enjoyable. Michael Keaton's narration adds a touch that makes the movie seem better than it is. I loved the 1950's small town setting as well as the semi-complicated plot. The viewer discovers the secrets of the past at the same time as the brothers do. We see how differently each of them deals with it and get to make our own decision as well. The bothers struggle with the revelations of the past and each find a way to deal with it. It is the different interpretations and actions that each of the brothers takes that is at the core of this story. After watching the movie, I find that I liked it more while I was watching it than I do now. The plot seems to lack that big punch that would make it stay with me and taunt me to watch it again. That aside, it is still worth seeing.
DVD Quality: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1 DD5.1 Picture and sound were great with no noticeable defects. Extra features consist of the trailer and a featurette. The main menu is interesting.
What You Should Do: Rent it if you are into historical pieces. It�s a decent movie but you�ll only need to see it once. This DVD release is nothing special.
Related Movies To Check Out: Waking the Dead, Almost Famous, To Kill a Mockingbird, Outside Providence
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By David A. Bede on June 17, 2002
Format: DVD
Based on a rather depressing short story, this is the only movie I've seen which I can honestly say is better than the book it's based on. It still surprises me that the critics weren't more impressed with it than they were.
Although Inventing the Abbotts is centered on two well-treaded themes - love across a class divide and bad blood between families - it takes enough of a new approach to avoid cliches. For one thing, the animosity between the rich Abbotts and the working-class Holts is selective, with varying degrees of friendship and respect between certain members of each family showing through alongside the bitterness between others. The exact cause of that bitterness, centered on a long-ago business deal between the two families' fathers, is a combination of mystery and misinformation to the main character, Doug (Joaquim Phoenix). The resolution of that mystery plays out alongside Doug's changing relationship with the Abbotts' youngest daughter, Pamela (Liv Tyler) throughout the film, thus preventing the forbidden-love motif from becoming overbearing.
But the movie does remain a love story at heart, and Phoenix and Tyler are remarkably well-suited to the task. (They apparently were a real-life item for some time after filming - and the sincerity shows.) Complicating the picture are Doug's bitter, jealous elder brother Jaycee (Billy Crudup), who sows discord among both families throughout the film; Pamela's troubled relationship with her sisters and parents; and the hazards of growing up in general. In keeping with the avoidance of stereotypes and cliches, character development is strong almost across the board.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By J. P. Ferraz on January 30, 2004
Format: DVD
Few movies I've seen provide, 7 years after its making, a retrospective of great actors and actresses in the make. Just watch the movie and then fish for recent works with each of those young talents.
From Crudup to Joaquin to Tyler to Going to Jenniffer Connelly - what we see in Inventing the Abbotts is an amazing set of performers reaching to stardoom. I believe the film should be classified as mandatory in acting schools.
For the rest, I believe this script is as close to reality as it can get. A small town, a wealthy family, a classic rich/poor idiosyncratic drama, false assumptions which could ruin lives, hard working single parents, young daughters struggling with the coming of age, ... all quite well integrated into a movie which is delightful to see and to call your attention for preemptive judgement.
Joanna Going, Liv Tyler and Jenniffer Connelly are absolutely remarkable and beautiful. Yet the prize goes to Joaquin, for his amazing performance.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Reviewer on May 26, 2001
Format: DVD
The lives of two brothers living in a small town in Illinois are profoundly affected by an alleged incident which took place even before one of them was born, in "Inventing the Abbotts," directed by Pat O'Connor. The Abbotts are one of the wealthiest, most respected families in Haley, Illinois; Lloyd Abbott (Will Patton) is a successful businessman who, along with his wife, Joan (Barbara Williams), has raised three daughters, the oldest of whom, Alice (Joanna Going), is about to be married, while the youngest, Pamela (Liv Tyler), is about to graduate from high school. The Holts, on the other hand, are from the other side of the tracks, and Helen Holt (Kathy Baker) has had to raise her boys on her own. John (Billy Crudup), the oldest, was two-years-old when his father was killed in an accident, while Helen was pregnant with his brother, Doug (Joaquin Phoenix). There's no mystery about what happened in the accident; the bone of contention concerns what happened afterwards-- at least in the eyes of John, even all these years later as he is about to enter collage.
John and Doug's father, it seems, had been business partners with Lloyd Abbott, but after his death, a patent that Mr. Holt owned somehow ended up in Lloyd Abbott's name, making him a wealthy man, while the Holt's ended up in their current state of affairs-- not exactly poor, but barely making ends meet. And since his youth, John has been fixated with the Abbotts, especially their daughters, and one in particular, Eleanor (Jennifer Connelly). But as with most things involving an obsession, it only put John on a lifelong emotional road to nowhere.
Told from Doug's point of view, the story becomes a lesson in life; when to leave the baggage of things best forgotten behind and move on.
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Topic From this Discussion
The last song in Inventing the Abbotts
It was performed by Tara MacLean
Jul 22, 2008 by R. H. Stevens |  See all 5 posts
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