tek's rating: ¾

Pieces of April (PG-13)
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This came out in 2003, and I'm sure I watched it on DVD sometime in the mid Aughts, and then must have sold the DVD or something, because I didn't feel the need to see the movie again. But years later, I decided I might want to see it again after all, just to write a review, because... well, there just aren't too many Thanksgiving movies, so every one counts. I guess. I mean if I have any interest at all in a movie. And the main reason I was interested in this, originally, was that it starred Katie Holmes. (There are some other familiar actors in the movie, but Holmes was the only one I remembered.) Anyway, I happened to see a used copy of the DVD for sale in a thrift shop in 2016, so I decided to pick it up, and I watched it the day after Thanksgiving. And I ended up liking it rather more than I remembered. (It is funny how my opinions of movies can sometimes change like that.)

So... Holmes plays this young woman named April Burns, who is estranged from her family. But she's invited them to come to her small apartment in New York City for Thanksgiving dinner. Apparently the impetus for this is that her mother, Joy (Patricia Clarkson), has breast cancer, and this may be the last chance they'll have to make amends. April's boyfriend, Bobby (Derek Luke), is eager to help make the day special for April, but he has to go out for awhile to do some things. Shortly after he leaves, April discovers that her oven isn't working. (It seems like they never use the oven part, though the stove part works.) So she has to try to get help from anyone else in her apartment building who's willing to lend her the use of their oven. At first she meets a nice couple named Evette and Eugene, who are much more proficient cooks than April, but they can only get her turkey started for a couple of hours before they have to cook their own. They also give her some help with various side dishes. Later, April has trouble getting anyone else to lend her their oven to finish cooking the turkey, but she finally gets help from a guy named Wayne (Sean Hayes), though he turns out to be... not particularly altruistic. Eventually she gets some help from a Chinese family, most of whom don't speak any English.

Throughout movie, scenes of April's efforts to prepare dinner alternate with scenes of Bobby doing his things, and scenes of April's family driving to New York. Aside from Joy, that includes April's father, Jim (Oliver Platt), and her younger brother Timmy and sister Beth (Alison Pill), and Joy's mother Dottie, who apparently has Alzheimer's or something. Jim is trying to be optimistic that they'll finally be able to make a good memory with April, though Joy and Beth are both more pessimistic. I'm not sure what to say about Timmy, except that he takes pictures of everyone, and seems to have concern for his mother as well as a sort of good natured sibling rivalry with Beth. (I have no idea what his opinion of April is.)

Anyway... the movie is fairly quirky, and it has some decent humor and drama. Lots of anxiety, all around. And some bad stuff happens, but it does have a happy ending. And I guess that's all I want to say.

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