Inventing the Abbotts

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Inventing the Abbotts
Inventing the abbotts poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPat O'Connor
Produced byBrian Grazer
Ron Howard
Janet Meyers
Screenplay byKen Hixon
Based on"Inventing the Abbotts"
by Sue Miller
Music byMichael Kamen
CinematographyKenneth MacMillan
Edited byRay Lovejoy
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • April 4, 1997 (1997-04-04)
Running time
112 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$5.9 million

Inventing the Abbotts is a 1997 American coming-of-age film directed by Pat O'Connor and starring Liv Tyler, Joaquin Phoenix, Billy Crudup, Jennifer Connelly, and Joanna Going. The screenplay by Ken Hixon is based on a short story by Sue Miller. The original music score was composed by Michael Kamen.

Plot summary[edit]

The lives of two closely linked families dangerously intersect in a small Illinois town in the 1950s. Two brothers, Jacey and Doug Holt are being raised by a single, working mother in Haley, Illinois. Their father was a reckless risk-taker and lost his life in a bet with Lloyd Abbott (Will Patton), his business partner. Abbott eventually becomes one of the town's foremost, wealthiest and most-admired citizens. The lives of the Holts and the Abbotts are intertwined through various entanglements. Lloyd Abbott and his distant wife, Joan, are the parents of three beautiful daughters, Alice, Eleanor and Pamela.

Because of a misunderstanding of the circumstances surrounding his father's death, Jacey (Billy Crudup) seeks revenge on the Abbotts through the calculated seduction of the Abbott daughters. At first, Jacey cannot wait to escape the suffocating life in Haley. Later in the film, however, he is pulled back as he idolizes the Abbott family, as well as obsesses about the oldest daughter, Alice (Joanna Going), thus seeking to jockey his way into the Abbott family.

At first, Doug (Joaquin Phoenix), the younger brother, admires and worships his brother's libertine lifestyle. However, as he matures, he discovers that all that glitters is not gold. He eventually falls in love with the youngest, virginal Abbott, Pamela (Liv Tyler), who protests his early, fumbling sexual advances. She forces him to appreciate her for who she is, not what she may offer up to him. Meanwhile, Eleanor (Jennifer Connelly) is sent away to a mental hospital after she and Jacey are caught by Lloyd Abbott, who cannot keep them apart.

After two years of being apart from each other, Doug and Pamela meet again by chance while they are in college in Philadelphia. However, Doug and Jacey are brought back to Haley after their mother's death. They also find a letter from their late father that says he has sold their patent for a 1937 DeSoto Coupe convertible. Despite the obstacles that Lloyd Abbott places in the way of any of the Holt brothers ever seeing his daughters again, Doug convinces Abbott at the end of the story of his true love for Pamela and receives his blessing on a future relationship.



Inventing the Abbotts was poorly received by critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 31% based on reviews from 26 critics.[1]

Emanuel Levy, Variety: "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."[2] Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2/4.[3]


  1. ^ "Inventing the Abbotts (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  2. ^ Levy, Emanuel (23 March 1997). "Inventing the Abbotts". Variety.
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Inventing The Abbotts Movie Review (1997)". Chicago Sun-Times.

External links[edit]