Friday, June 12, 2015

Netflix Instant Queue Movie Review: "Inventing the Abbotts" (1997)

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Movie"Inventing the Abbotts"
Director: Pat O'Connor
Year: 1997
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Two working-class brothers, JC (Billy Crudup) and Doug Holt (Joaquin Phoenix), couldn't be more different. The only thing they have in common is their interest in the wealthy girls of the Abbott family, Alice (Joanna Going), Pamela (Liv Tyler), and Eleanor (Jennifer Connolly), though for different reasons. Their father Lloyd Abbott (Will Patton) doesn't like the low-class brothers and will stop at nothing to keep them away from his daughters. 

Family members don't always like each other, but sometimes, they try their best to simply tolerate one other for the good of the collective. That is the case in the slice of life, coming-of-age drama "Inventing the Abbotts." Billy Crudup plays JC Holt, a college-bound, working class young man who has a way with women due to his slick looks and fast tongue. He has always wanted to find a way to better his situation in life, and for him, the best way to do that is by dating an Abbott girl. Hell, he even tries to convinces one of them to marry him. Way back when, there was a situation between Lloyd Abbott and JC and Doug's parents, and JC has never gotten over it, even though he might not know the whole story. His anger and twisting of the story seems to consume him, turning him into a rageful person. He will stop at nothing to try having sex with one or any or all of the Abbott girls in his strange form of revenge for what had escalated in the past. Doug, played by Joaquin Phoenix, is younger than JC and is much more awkward with women. He is close to his mother, though he has a rebellious streak of his own, as well as an "I don't care" attitude. Doug's interest in the Abbott girls is centered on only one of them, Pamela, played by Liv Tyler. However, Doug does get caught sneaking a peek at Eleanor, played by Jennifer Connelly, a couple of times and she does nothing to dissuade him, even though she knows her sister and he have something going on. Is that dramatic enough for you?

The film is kind of slow paced and has very little plot. It primarily shows the life and times of the Holt brothers in relation to the Abbott sisters, as well as how what happened in the past shaped their relationships and lives in the future. What little story that is there is told via voice-over by a much older Doug, voiced by Michael Keaton, who manages to convey more emotion than some of the other actors in the film. "Inventing the Abbotts" is a period piece in that it takes place in the 1950's, and though the sets and clothing are well done, the rest is mostly forgettable. The young actors do a fine enough job and you can really buy both Phoenix and Crudup as brothers and Connelly, Tyler and Going as sisters, but given the themes of the film, it seems to lack a certain emotional depth we would have liked to see. Outside of one poignant opening line and an early scene where Phoenix draws on sideburns on his face, you will probably fail to remember this movie even exists by tomorrow. 

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 31%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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