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Overall Rating
3.97

Awesome: 30.23%
Worth A Look40.7%
Average: 25.58%
Pretty Bad: 2.33%
Total Crap: 1.16%

9 reviews, 32 user ratings


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Pieces of April
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by Jay Seaver

"I didn't realize there was a 'True Meaning Of Thanksgiving'"
3 stars

These little indie movies with a fair amount of star power can be kind of annoying - you wonder, if they can afford to pay Katie Holmes, can't they afford FILM? They pretty much have to be as good as "Pieces of April" to be worthwhile.

There are only a few prodcuers who are a better indication of what a movie will be like than the director. Jerry Bruckheimer, for instance, will give you a glossy movie with a fine cast all playing well below their capabilities in a story that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but which has some memorable bits. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, Gary Winick's InDigEnt (Independent Digital Entertainment) will generally deliver a grainy, flat-looking movie with a surprisingly good cast that talks a lot but doesn't say as much as they think they do.

Just as Bruckheimer sometimes lucks into a good movie every once in a while (The Rock, Pirates Of The Carribean), so here does Winick. Pieces Of April looks nicer than the other InDigEnt films I've seen (Sam The Man, Tape), which may just be a factor of better technology, but also seems to be the result of better lighting. Which is good, because what use are the fine performances by Katie Holmes, Patricia Clarkson, Oliver Platt, et al., if you can't see them?

The story itself is simple; April (Holmes) is the black sheep of her family. Neither her parents (Clarkson and Platt) or siblings can think of any happy memories involving her, and since leaving home, her life has been one disaster after another. As this Thanksgiving starts, though, she seems to have turned a corner - her boyfriend (Derek Luke) seems like a nice enough guy, and she's offered to host the family's holiday dinner.

There's a likable desperation to April - though at times she seems too nice to have been the nightmare her family describes, she has lapses where she's rude or inconsiderate, and there's a subplot with her boyfriend that indicates she may still be quite capable of bad judgment. But her mother has cancer, and it's quite clear that this may be April's last chance to prove to her family that she's not a total screw-up.

There's a fair amount of padding - Sean Hayes has a character who is little more than obnoxious, and it occasionally seems that about twice as much time is spent on April's family in the car as needs to be. But there is one magical moment, where April is trying to explain Thanksgiving to a Korean family that knows little English - she stumbles over the sugar-coated version I learned in first grade, then the politically-correct rebuke, before finally cutting right to the heart of it.

There's been lots of "true meaning of Christmas" movies, but a "true meaning of Thanksgiving" one is rarer, and interesting because of that.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6954&reviewer=371
originally posted: 06/04/04 09:03:46
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This film is available for download or online viewing at CinemaNow.com For more in the CinemaNow.com series, click here.
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.

User Comments

5/24/08 PAUL SHORTT WHOLESOME FILM, OF LOVE IN SPITE OF OUR FAILURES, GRUDGES AND DISAPPOINTMENTS 3 stars
12/28/07 Tiffany Losco I found it boring and stupid. Wasted time watching it. 1 stars
9/11/06 claudine chamaa very sensitive and touching 4 stars
7/02/06 Graham Mason Boring and not at all funny 2 stars
1/29/06 sweetgrrl1972 I saw it on TV and was surprised to find I didn't want to change the channel once. 4 stars
12/27/04 mjoc This is a truly funny, heartwarming, and wonderful holiday film! 5 stars
11/21/04 Phil M. Aficionado Pulls you along at the right pace, alternatively humoring & crushing, Terrific cast/script 5 stars
7/01/04 Mikey Crunt Katie Holmes or Katie Crunt - You decide!! Good film, sloppy ending! 4 stars
6/19/04 Denise Duspiva th e family is a little odd but the idea is sweet 4 stars
4/13/04 joannetc i loved this movie (i think it was supposed to look brownish to suit the digital format) 5 stars
4/08/04 Andrew b pieces of april :( but also :) 5 stars
3/24/04 Margie very touching. i was pleasantly surprised by katie holmes. 4 stars
3/15/04 Elena It's amazing how much you care about the whole family when the story is so simple. So good. 5 stars
3/10/04 Joan Papuzynski I thought it was outstanding and very emotional 5 stars
3/10/04 Jose felix It was simple yet, remarkable!! 5 stars
2/27/04 carla pritchett Pieces of April is a very pleasant surprise. I enjoyed it tremendously. 5 stars
2/26/04 Cindy Ames Possibly the surprise sleeper of the year -- see it! 5 stars
2/26/04 Julia Cox A not laugh-out-loud but subtly hilarious comedy. 5 stars
1/15/04 Betty White Clarkson and Platt are wonderful in this rather average comedy. 3 stars
12/29/03 y2mckay decent performances from supporting cast, a tad overwrought, but not with sappy overkill 3 stars
11/17/03 Lilian Tomaran I think the movie was wonderful! Wonderful preformance by Patty. Hope she wins an oscar 5 stars
10/23/03 Lucy great movie! It was amazing and my friend was in it -she's the little girl in the bathroom 5 stars
10/16/03 Carmelita Florine brilliant film,although Katie Holmes certainly did not do justice to April.offwithherhead!! 3 stars
10/16/03 Meme R. Outstanding 5 stars
10/02/03 Bill Cumberson Fantastic Film 5 stars
9/30/03 Clare Evans The best movie I have seen in a long time 5 stars
9/16/03 Beth Hinton I thought it was okay, at best... 2 stars
9/15/03 Rachel Pradilla Katie Holmes was great and the little girl in the bathroom really affected me 5 stars
3/10/03 "Toots" Suite Terrific movie 5 stars
3/03/03 Elizabeth Douglass It was awsome! I loved it!! 5 stars
2/05/03 Danny Howes Katie Holmes is awesome 5 stars
2/05/03 Jean-Claude Laurent Katie Holmes is awesome 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  17-Oct-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 24-Feb-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  04-Mar-2004


Directed by
  Peter Hedges

Written by
  Peter Hedges

Cast
  Katie Holmes
  Oliver Platt
  Patricia Clarkson
  Derek Luke
  Alison Pill
  Sean Hayes



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