"Like looking through transparent gelatin jiggling on Elvis' pelvis."
The pieces are her family, on their way from Upstate New York to Manhattan, under the occasion of her invitation for Thanksgiving.They expect a mess — why?, because she’s the family’s self-dubbed black sheep, though none of them seem to see their own flaws, except maybe the pacifistic father who’s too far in denial. So the movie is split between their hellish drive down (additionally including the bitchy wife who has breast cancer, her mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s, their pothead son, and all-too-perfect Miss Priss younger daughter) and April’s travails to prepare a nice homemade meal, complicated when her oven breaks down. Writer/director Peter Hedges packs in a fair amount of caustic, über-dysfunctional humor that ails most from its inability to say “when.” The feel-good mark at the end undoubtedly comes off as a stretch and doesn’t maintain the persona of any of the characters, but it slightly helps to offset the caked-on dysfunction that so persistently sticks to everything before that point. Notwithstanding the quirkiness of the apartment’s denizens, the actual casting is quite well-utilized, especially Patricia Clarkson. Katie Holmes does a fair share holding up her almost solo half with some solid support by Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher), but what makes the movie almost impossible to sit through is the horrific digital video image, gunky, distilled, faded, as though looking through a bowl of gelatin cranberry sauce (pretending that it’s transparent, of course). It does not help, either, to subject us to the nauseous mindset of Clarkson’s character by shaking the camera around so much you’d think it was attached to Elvis’ pelvis.[See it if you must.]
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.