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"INVENTING THE ABBOTTS"
(1997) (Joaquin Phoenix, Billy Crudup, Liv Tyler) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Minor Moderate None None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None None None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Moderate Mild Mild Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Two brothers who couldn't be more different from one another compete for the affections of a trio of rich daughters.
PLOT:
Fifteen-year-old Doug (JOAQUIN PHOENIX) and seventeen-year-old Jacey Holt (BILLY CRUDUP) are two brothers growing up in Haley, Illinois in the late 1950's with their mother, Helen (KATHY BAKER). The brothers couldn't be more different from each other. While Jacey is outgoing and promiscuous, Doug is shy and reserved. They share a common interest, though, and that involves the three daughters of a wealthy neighbor businessman, Lloyd Abbott (WILL PATTON). Alice (JOANNA GOING) is the oldest and soon to be married due to an unplanned pregnancy. Eleanor (JENNIFER CONNELLY) is the wild, free spirit and Pam (LIV TYLER) is the nice girl who gets away with everything. Both brothers are attracted to Eleanor, the most promiscuous of the sisters, but its Jacey who sleeps with her. Doug's interest soon turns to Pam, while Jacey makes his way through all of the Abbott sisters over the following few years.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're drawn to any of the young, twenty-something cast members, they will.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For sexuality and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • JOAQUIN PHOENIX plays the younger brother who's fixated with the opposite sex, but is hesitant to do anything about it. He gets into a few fights when tempers flare, but none of it's too bad.
  • BILLY CRUDUP plays the older brother who beds all three Abbott daughters as if he were on a mission to do just that.
  • JOANNA GOING plays the oldest daughter who's two months pregnant when the story begins and later has sex with Jacey although she's married to someone else.
  • JENNIFER CONNELLY plays the wild, free-spirited daughter who has casual sex with Jacey.
  • LIV TYLER plays the daughter who seems to have her head together, but she does show up drunk one night, and we learn that at another time when she was drunk she slept with Jacey.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
    This is a film that contains many fine performances and an interesting story that unfortunately gets stuck in its own trappings and bogs down to a crawl by its end. Although set in the era of the birth of rock n' roll, this film doesn't capture that feeling of the country ready to burst out of its seams into the wild 60's, and instead it easily could have been cast in any small town in any previous era. Of a different note, the casting director should be commended for gathering together groups of actors and actresses who couldn't look more like siblings if they were actually related to each other. Liv Tyler is the stand out of the group, as she proves once again that her star is beginning to brightly shine in Hollywood and here she delivers a fine performance. The rest of the cast is commendable, though at times the brothers, as well as the sisters, lose their distinctive qualities and blur into similar characters. The plot, while initially clever and fun at times, eventually bogs down and loses momentum, as well as the audience's interest, as the novelty of the story wears off. Scribe Sue Miller has created compelling characters, but the fact that we repeatedly see them in the same situations weakens the film. A fine piece of ensemble acting, this film could have used a slightly better and more varied script to maintain our interest throughout. As it is, we give it just a 6 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Profanity and sexual situations are the biggest topics of concern here. 15 "f" words are uttered and several of them are used with sexual connotations. Several sexual encounters occur, and while some nudity is seen (bare breasts and the bare buttocks of a man), all of the encounters include sexual movement and sounds of some sort. Violence is limited to a few punches being thrown and while alcohol is consumed in several scenes, only one character Pam in college is seen drunk and none of the drinking is glamorized. There's quite a bit of smoking, but this is a period piece (the late 50's) and that was more common and accepted then. The other main topic to discuss is class differences between the rich and poor and how people are treated differently depending on where they fall in that classification. Since teens are likely to want to see this film, we suggest that you examine the content before deciding if this movie is appropriate for them, or for you.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • People drink at several parties held at the Abbott's home and at a college party.
  • Doug and Jacey drink beer on the side of the road. They comment about buying it from a bait shop that sells it to minors if no one else is present at the time.
  • Doug and his mom each drink a beer in their home.
  • Jacey drinks a beer at a picnic.
  • Pam shows up at Doug's dorm and is drunk.
  • Jacey admits to having sex with Pam while both of them were drunk.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Jacey has some blood near his eye after Doug punches him.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Jacey beds all three Abbott girls and seems like he's on a mission to do so, not because he cares for them, but perhaps to equalize their social standings with his.
  • Mr. Abbott doesn't want his daughters dating or seeing the Holt boys because his family is "better" than theirs.
  • The boy's mother has no real friends in town due to a rumor that Mrs. Abbott spread concerning her husband and Mrs. Holt having an affair years earlier.
  • Eleanor leads on Jacey by saying that she wants him while at other times she kisses other boys.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Shut up," "Geez," "Knuckle head," "Blockhead," "Knocked up," "Screw you," and "Bastard."
  • Doug paints big sideburns on his own face with ink.
  • Doug sets newspaper on fire in several outdoor trash cans.
  • Jacey kicks over a trash can after seeing Eleanor kissing someone else.
  • Doug urinates on the side of a country road.
  • The boys have bought beer and drink it while sitting on their car on the side of the road.
  • Eleanor's credo is that she "just does things and lets others figure it out" (meaning she's carefree and doesn't care about any repercussions).
  • Doug and Pam throw rocks and break the windshield of an abandoned truck.
  • Pam tells Doug about how she and Eleanor used to run nude around their house at night.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 15 "f" words (4 used sexually, and 3 other variations of the word "screw" are similarly used), 4 "s" words, 1 slang term for male genitals (the "d" word), 5 hells, 4 "ass" words (2 used with "hole"), 2 damns, 1 S.O.B., and 8 uses of "God damn," 2 each of "Christ," "God," and "Oh Christ," and 1 use each of "Jesus Christ" and "Oh Lord" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Alice is getting married because she's two months pregnant.
  • Eleanor and Jacey make out in a garage and she unbuttons his shirt as they begin to get passionate, but Pam interrupts them from going any further.
  • Doug walks in on Eleanor and Jacey having sex in their family garage. Her bare breasts are seen as she sits on top of him, sexual movement is seen, sexual sounds are heard, and she's not at all embarrassed about Doug seeing her having sex.
  • Doug purposefully drops his pencil under a table so that he can gaze at Eleanor from down there. She knows what he's doing and hikes up skirt and spreads her legs so that her underwear and crotch are seen. She then shows him a sign that reads "Hi Doug" and he runs out of the room.
  • Doug and Pam passionately kiss on her sofa. He then puts his hand on her breast and then down inside her dress. She only stops him when he begins to raise her skirt.
  • Jacey's bare butt and Eleanor's bare breasts are seen as he lies on top of her having sex. There's movement and sexual sounds. When her father later confronts them and asks, "What are you doing out here?" she responds, "F-ing Jacey," and then feels his crotch in plain sight of her father.
  • Jacey tells Doug that their mom had an affair with Mr. Abbott after their father died, but she tells Doug that the rumor isn't true.
  • As Doug lies on top of Pam and they make out, he says, "I'd like to see what you look like without your clothes on."
  • Jacey and Alice have sex in the garage and while some movement and sounds are noted, no nudity is seen.
  • Mr. Abbott tells Jacey, "Keep your poor boy d*ck out of my daughters."
  • Jacey admits to having sex with Pam while both of them were drunk.
  • SMOKING
  • Doug often smokes in the movie.
  • Pam smokes in one scene, and others are seen smoking at parties or in the background of certain shots.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Mr. Abbott doesn't like his daughters seeing the Holt brothers and sends Eleanor away because he can't get her to stop.
  • There's some talk about Mr. Holt dying after his car fell through the ice one winter.
  • The boy's mother dies (not seen) and they briefly deal with her passing.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Class differences between the rich and the poor and how people are treated differently because of which one they belong to.
  • Jacey sarcastically says "Every time an Abbott girl gets her period they have a party" (referring to how often they have parties).
  • Mr. Abbott has Eleanor "sent away" after he can't keep her and Jacey apart.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Doug punches another young man who tries to cut in on his dance with Pam.
  • The brothers get into a fight that involves them rolling on the ground and breaking through their screened porch and knocking over a neighbor's shed.
  • Doug and Pam throw rocks and break the windshield of an abandoned truck.
  • Doug punches Jacey after he finds that his brother slept with Pam.



  • Reviewed March 31, 1997

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