Inventing the Abbotts (1997)
Front Cover Actor Back Cover
Liv Tyler Pamela Abbott
Joaquin Phoenix Doug Holt
Jennifer Connelly Eleanor Abbott
Billy Crudup John Charles 'Jacey' Holt
Joanna Going Alice Abbott
Barbara Williams Joan Abbott
Will Patton Lloyd Abbott
Kathy Baker Helen Holt
Michael Sutton Steve
Alessandro Nivola Peter Vanlaningham
Nicole M. Vassallo Giggling Girl #1
Amanda Sherman Giggling Girl #2
Shawn Hatosy Victor
Garrett M. Brown Webb Crosby
Julie Benz Co-ed
Zoe McLellan Sandy
David Frazier Ted
Margaret Ash Store Clerk
Clive Rosengren Principal
Susan Barnes Mrs. Porter
Andrea Post Waitress
Jack Cummins Funeral Director
David Heckendorn Pre-Record Singer
Michael Keaton Narrator (uncredited)
Sean St. Heart Mike (uncredited)
Movie Details
Genre Drama; Romance
Director Pat O'Connor
Producer Brian Grazer; Ron Howard; Janet Meyers; Ken Hixon
Writer Sue Miller; Ken Hixon
Studio 20th Century Fox
Language English
Audience Rating R (Restricted)
Running Time 110 mins
Country USA
Color Color
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

Personal Details
Seen It Yes
Index 73
In Collection Yes
Owner David Cowley
Product Details
Format DVD
Region Region 1
Screen Ratio Widescreen 1.85:1 Color (Anamorphic)
Layers Single side, Dual layer
UPC 024543012153
Chapters 28
Release Date 2002
Subtitles English; Spanish
Packaging Keep Case
Audio Tracks ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 [CC]
ENGLISH: Dolby Digital Surround [CC]
FRENCH: Dolby Digital Surround
Nr of Disks/Tapes 1
Extra Features
Color Closed-captioned Widescreen Dolby
Internet Movie Database