Katie Holmes is "terrific" (People) as the quirky black sheep of her family in this delightful comedy-drama that "sparkles with acerbic wit, original characters and genuine heart" (Variety). Academy AwardÂ(r) nominee* Patr... more »icia Clarkson gives "a career-making performance" (Boxoffice), and "the entire cast is inspired" (Film Threat) in this "moving, hilarious comedy" (People). Rebellious daughter April Burns (Holmes) has offered to host an elaborate Thanksgiving dinner for her suburban clan in her grubby Lower East Side apartment. But her attempts to create an unforgettable feast go awry when she discovers that her oven doesn't work. Now, asher weary family makes its way to the city, April must rely on the kindness of strangers to pull off the perfect meal and the perfect memory. *2003: Supporting Actress, Pieces of April« less
Pretty quirky storyline that has super inflated ratings. This movie could have been a career killer for Holmes.
Bridgett M. (WalkingAndTalking) from HOPKINS, MN Reviewed on 10/10/2021...
Sure, I'll watch a scary or suspenseful movie on Halloween, and I have a few favorite Christmas movies. What I really get excited about (and I may be alone in this) is Thanksgiving DVDs. My absolute favorites I watch every year are A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and Home for the Holidays, starring Holly Hunter. I've watched a lot of Thanksgiving movies once; most do not qualify for repeat viewings from me. Pieces of April and Planes, Trains & Automobiles are the other two exceptions. You probably already know how good Planes, Trains & Automobiles is, but you may have missed this indie dramedy from Peter Hedges (Ben Is Back, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Dan in Real Life). In attempting to prepare a Thanksgiving meal for her estranged family, April, played by Katie Holmes, must rely on the kindness of the neighbors in her NYC apartment building. I probably watch it at least every other year. It appears to be out of print.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Lorraine R. from ROCHESTER HLS, MI Reviewed on 12/31/2019...
Really disliked this. Very strange movie, particularly the scenes with her Mom and family. The parts with April and her boyfriend together and separately were fine. I just watched all but the last 20 minutes because I didn't care what was going to happen.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Chuck or Frances M. from WHEELING, WV Reviewed on 10/14/2011...
If you are looking for a quirky little movie about a young woman's attempt to make a nice Thanksgving for her not so normal family then this is the movie for you. Katie Holmes is adorable in this movie, and I found the ending to be very touching.
4 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
Chris M. from PROSPECT HTS, IL Reviewed on 1/1/2010...
This is a really wonderful slice of life film! When a young (black sheep of the family) hosts - or tries to host a holiday dinner, everything that can go wrong does. Yet with the help of her neighbors she pulls it off. Great New York City film! Tip: Make some popcorn & have some cherry cola with this viewing!!!
3 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Mary-Jo W. (mjowest) from SHELBYVILLE, MI Reviewed on 12/23/2009...
I wanted to see Katie Holmes act, and I wasn't disappointed.
Sappy, predictable ending, but the characters were amusingly entertaining!
2 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Susan G. from LONG BEACH, CA Reviewed on 9/14/2009...
It was a bit odd - not what I had expected from the description.
1 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Daniel C. from TUNKHANNOCK, PA Reviewed on 9/9/2009...
"Pieces of April" is often said to be Katie Holmes's best film role. I think this is true, although she does have many others. HIGHLY recommended!
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Sara C. Reviewed on 7/1/2009...
My favorite Katie Holmes film. Quirky, emotional, funny, and sad film. I really enjoyed this film and definitely worth a watch.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Sarah F. (Ferdy63) from DALTON, GA Reviewed on 7/7/2008...
Really touching movie - at times funny, at others heartbreakingly sad. It is a testament to what really matters in life - love. Whether it's love for a daughter, a mother, a sister, a lover or a neighbor, nothing else is important. It overcomes past mistakes, sorrow, jealousy, language barriers, crosses racial and ethnic lines and makes everything else in your life worthwhile. In case you can't tell, I absolutely loved this movie!!!
1 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Great Thanksgiving Movie. Idiosyncratic Family Drama.
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 03/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"April (Katie Holmes) is a young woman estranged from her family and living with her boyfriend Bobby (Derek Luke) in a mildly run down apartment building on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Aprils' mother, Joy (Patricia Clarkson), is being treated for advanced cancer and may not live long, so April has invited her family for Thanksgiving dinner in hopes of favorably impressing her mother and improving their relationship while there is still time. The family -Joy, father Jim (Oliver Platt), brother Timmy (John Gallagher, Jr.), and sister Beth, (Alison Pill)- piles in their car for the long and stressful trip to the city, while April prepares the meal. But things get off to a bad start when her oven won't work."Pieces of April" was written and directed by Peter Hedges. It's a wonderful examination of family and an engaging portrait of these individuals who are so disparate in personality yet linked to one another by hope and tradition. And "Pieces of April" is an testament to the opportunities modern technologies provide to filmmakers with few resources. The film was shot in 16 days on digital video for $300,000. And, incredibly, the only glaring evidence of these limitations is the absence of wide-angle shots. Director Peter Hedges didn't use wide shots because they are problematic on DV. The result is that occasionally our field of view seems unnaturally truncated, but not enough to detract from the quality of the film. I was a little surprised to learn that great thespians Patricia Clarkson and Oliver Platt and a young star like Katie Holmes would agree to such a low-budget production, but I imagine this fantastic script captured their interest. Peter Hedges' dialogue is crisp and forceful, and his characterizations are interesting and so genuine that these people might be your neighbors. Great actors, a great script, and resourceful direction can apparently create a terrific film with very little else. There is little I can say about Patricia Clarkson's performance except that she is brilliant as always. April's mother, Joy, is hypercritical, blunt, but a font of emotional strength, and no one could play this memorable character better. Oliver Platt departs from the quirky characters for which he is famous to play Jim, Joy's even-tempered tolerant husband. The supporting cast is large and perfect without exception: Alison Pill, who plays April's teenaged sister Beth, is destined to be a great character actress. Derek Luke, of "Antwone Fisher" fame, this time plays a man who is confident and comfortable with himself. All of April's neighbors are portrayed vividly, but especially memorable are Isiah Whitlock, Jr. and Lillias White as Eugene & Evette and Sean Hayes as nutty neighbor Wayne."Pieces of April" is an engaging, ultimately optimistic, family drama that is somehow both idiosyncratic and universally true. Great performances. Great script. This is the best Thanksgiving movie I've seen. I can't recommend it more highly.The DVD: There are 2 unavoidable previews. Both widescreen and full screen formats are on the same disc! Bonus features include a "making of " documentary entitled "All the Pieces Together", an audio commentary by writer/director Peter Hedges, and a theatrical trailer. The documentary includes interviews with the film's cast and Peter Hedges, in which he discusses the film's genesis. Hedges also does a nice audio commentary in which he talks about the film's themes, story, and technical stuff. If you really like the film, the extras are worth watching. Hedges' commentary may be of particular interest to aspiring filmmakers seeking insight into how to get the most out of a small budget. At the very least it is inspiring on that level."
Not exactly Rockwell's vision
Joseph Haschka | Glendale, CA USA | 03/21/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You may have seen the famous Norman Rockwell painting, "Freedom from Want", which depicts the idealized American family gathered around the quintessential Thanksgiving table as the turkey is presented for carving. PIECES OF APRIL it's not.April Burns (Katie Holmes) lives in a New York City apartment with her boyfriend Bobby (Derek Luke), and the film opens as the two begin to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for the rest of April's family, which is driving in from out of town for the ordeal.Joy Burns (Patricia Clarkson) is dying of the metastatic cancer that has already cost her both her breasts, a surgical transformation suitably documented in the family photo album. She expects this Thanksgiving to be a disaster since daughter April was a more into drugs than Home Ec. Indeed, to say she and April are estranged is an understatement. But husband Jim (Oliver Platt) persuades her, so off they go in the station wagon with their other children, daughter Beth (Alison Pill) and son Timmy (John Gallagher), and Joy's senile mother Dottie (Alice Drummond) for what may well be Joy's last Thanksgiving. In the meantime, as Bobby goes out on a mysterious errand, April is faced with a non-functional oven, which forces her to desperately beg the other tenants in the building for the necessary range time to cook the traditional bird. Time is running short, and the rest of the clan is getting closer despite frequent stops for Joy to vomit from the nausea induced by her chemotherapy. And it also appears that the family doesn't know that April lives in a decrepit tenement in a graffiti-decorated slum, nor that Bobby is Black. The Burns festive occasion promises to make your dysfunctional Turkey Day look like a Martha Stewart showcase event in comparison.Clarkson was deservedly nominated for, but didn't receive, an Oscar for this performance in a supporting role. She's more the "star" of PIECES OF APRIL than the ostensible lead, Holmes. The Bobby, Beth and Timmy characters are almost an unnecessary distraction. More interesting are April's neighbors which give her help, or not, especially the very strange Wayne (Sean Hayes) and the middle-age Afro-American couple, Evette (Lillias White) and Eugene (Isiah Whitlock). There's an especially good scene involving Evette's initial reaction to April when the latter first appears seeking help for her culinary crisis.The movie's abrupt conclusion after eighty-one minutes leaves much to be desired. One wonders if the scriptwriter ran out of ideas or the producers out of money. But there's still enough there to make the film more than worth the cost of the rental. And, next Thanksgiving with the relatives, perhaps you won't take those mashed potatoes for granted."
Absolutely Superb Film!
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"PIECES OF APRIL, written and directed by Peter Hedges, is simply a stunning little movie. Hedges has found the quintessential dysfunctional family and manages to make us love every looney one of them. The method of back and forth story telling - parents and children preparing for and driving into Manhattan for their estranged daughter's Thanksgiving coupled with the concurrent Manhattan set of the preparation of that dinner - works incredibly well without detracting from the momentum and flow of the story development.April Burns (Katie Holmes) lives in the seediest part of New York City and is the daughter who rebelled from her rather nutty family: she is tattooed, pierced, weirdly dressed, living in a rat hole tenement with her African American boyfriend Bobby (Derek Luke). Never having cooked before, she invites her crazy family to Thanksgiving dinner (despite the fact that her oven is broken, she knows nothing about preparing a turkey, etc). Her preparations are aided by at least some of her fellow apartment dwellers. Meanwhile, her mother Joy (Patricia Clarkson, in a hallmark performance) who has had bilateral mastectomies for cancer and is on chemo + pot + bulimia + has a history of being slightly mad, her sweet flummox father Jim (Oliver Platt) who tries desperately to hold his family together, her 'just perfect sister' Beth (Alison Pill), her adolescent photographer brother Timmy (John Gallagher, Jr) and her senile but sweet grandmother (Alice Drummond) are all under duress at the thought of visiting April for the eating holiday. The way this all comes together is one of the funniest, saddest, and most tender and insightful stories to come out in a long time. The way Hedges treats cancer, senility, sibling rivalry, lost child syndrome, multiethnic questions, and family fragility is nothing short of genius. This is a superb metaphor for alienation, acceptance, compassion, and mutual respect. Recommended without reservation."
Moving, funny, sad, and intensely human
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 10/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"About thirty minutes into this film, I must confess that I didn't think I was going to like it, but I ended up liking it a great deal. The first problem I had was the look of the film, with an exceptionally grainy cast to the images, made worse by a series of extreme close ups, and bleached out colors. The film never ended up looking good, but the it bothered me less as it went on. The second thing that bothered me was that the set up seemed a bit too stereotypical: black sheep of the family April living in squalor in another town (New York City) makes a Thanksgiving dinner for her disapproving family (loving but sometimes overwhelmed father, younger and negativistic sister, go-with-the-flow younger brother, grandmother suffering from Alzheimer's, and hypercritical, cold, and unloving mother, who is undergoing--probably futility--chemotherapy for breast cancer). Of course, everything starts going wrong and gets worse (April and her boyfriend obviously have no culinary skills, oven is broken and she has extreme difficulty finding anyone who can help her, her mother in the car bringing her family to NYC is constantly berating April and creating a poisoned atmosphere, etc.), and I felt the whole thing was a bit too predictable (which it in part remained).But at some point about halfway through the film, I really started enjoying the film. Sure, it still looked bad, but I started enjoying getting to know the characters, I began to find the humor more and more biting, and I started to want her family to be pleasantly surprised at April's almost heroic efforts to create perhaps the last good day they would all have as a family. I was also enjoying some of the quirky neighbors we meet, including a very helpful middle-aged African American couple living below her, and a bizarre upstairs neighbor with a nice, new stove (played by Sean Hayes of WILL AND GRACE). Things both at April's apartment, with her boyfriend (who unhappily runs into her drug dealer ex-boyfriend just before the dinner starts), and inside the car get worse and worse until everything apparently collapses. And then, perhaps a bit too neatly, everything is put back together again. But just like the characters in the film, we in the end want everything to be nice and pleasant, and it isn't at all hard acceding to that inclination.I liked the cast a great deal. Oliver Platt (he and NOT Will Ferrell should be starring in A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES!) is as excellent as always, and Patricia Clarkson is outstanding as April's dying and acerbic mother. She is especially funny in the scene where she smokes dope (to counteract the effects of the chemo) and seems to rewind to her youth in the car. Katie Holmes is made to be as unlovely as it is possible to make her, but she still possesses enough wounded charm to make us root for her making her dinner a success. Indeed, her ongoing struggles both against fate and against her own culinary ineptness renders her as quite the heroine by the end of the film.This film isn't for everyone. It is a bit bleak, and it isn't the prettiest film in the world to look at, and fans of DAWSON'S CREEK might want to see a prettier Katie Holmes, but if one can get past all this, one just might discover that this is a funny, inspiring, and moving film."
Slight but well-acted.
RMurray847 | Albuquerque, NM United States | 04/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"PIECES OF APRIL is not the type of movie to take your breath away. It is predictable in many ways, yet it's also surprising enough of the time to make it well worth watching. I call it a slight movie because it has relaxed pacing, a short running time and a low budget. None of these are criticisms, per se...just trying to give you the idea that this movie FEELS like an independant film. The movie is shot on digital video (...). This is good, because a movie like this probably wouldn't get made at all if real film stock were used. And I'm glad it WAS made...if only to enjoy some standout performances.It tells the story of one family's trip to visit their "troubled" daughter (and sister) who now lives in New York City and has been more or less estranged (except for calls asking for money) for quite some time. This is intercut with the drama of April trying to get the Thanksgiving dinner together for her family. She obviously seldom cooks at all, because she discovers that her oven doesn't work. Clearly, she's never TRIED to use it before. So she is forced to go from neighbor to neighbor asking for help with cooking her turkey. We meet the neighbors in some amusing (though a bit unbelievable) vignettes. Katie Holmes plays April, and it's a good departure for her. In the past, she's either been kinda "sweet and innocent" as in Dawson's Creek or trying to shock us with nudity. In this film, she has rough edges, but there's no gratuitous flesh. However, it's also hard to buy April as a REBEL. She dresses the part, but never seems in the least bit threatening. What, exactly, does she really have against her family.The family, meanwhile, is just dealing with the stress of making the trip. Patricia Clarkson is the mother, and she's clearly near the end stages of breast cancer. Unspoken is the fact that everyone knows this will be her last Thanksgiving, and perhaps her last chance to "make amends" with April. Oliver Platt is the long-suffering husband. There are two teenage kids as well, along with grandma, whom they pick up from her retirement home. Their little car is crowded with bickering, and sometimes, it gets to be a bit much. However, there are some great moments too. Clarkson gives a brave performance in the best written part. She's not just the sympathetic victim. She can be QUITE unpleasant, not afraid to snap at her family for imagined slights. We see how the stress of her affliction has amplified her weaknesses of personality. Love comes through too, sometimes, but we see she's really turned inwards in many ways and isn't too anxious to make accomodations for the feelings of others. It feels believable, and Clarkson (a great actor) is superb. And Oliver Platt has his moments too...particularly one brief scene where they've just reached the city. He looks over to the passenger seat and sees his sick wife asleep. Or IS she?? His momentary conviction that she has died stabs us through the heart. It turns out she isn't, but his fear and then his queesy relief are TOTALLY convincing. It might be the best 15 seconds committed to an independant film in quite awhile.Anyway, will they all get together? How will it go? This is somewhat predictable, but these scenes are presented with imagination enough to make us forgive some cliches.The movie also features a nice performance by African-American actor Derek Luke. I only mention the race, because as April's new boyfriend, we just KNOW that when the family meets him, there will be raised eyebrows at best. We get to know him, and realise that HE is the reason April seems to be motivated to get her act together. He has brought love and happiness and a desire to build a relationship to her life. He has also encouraged her to restore her fractured relationships. It's a noble act he has performed, and Luke's warmth towards Holmes is touching. So, we anticipate the family's first meeting with him.The movie has a little harsh language, and Luke and Holmes have a bedroom "tussle" early on, so I don't recommend the movie for kids. But it IS gentle and ultimately very affirmative. Don't buy the DVD though. It's not the type of movie you'll watch over and over (and it's only 81 minutes long) and the extras are SKIMPY at best."