More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

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

9 reviews, 32 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Whistlers, The by Jay Seaver

Fly Me to the Saitama by Jay Seaver

Fantastic Fungi by Jay Seaver

Ode to Nothing by Jay Seaver

Dance with Me by Jay Seaver

Purity of Vengeance (Journal 64), The by Jay Seaver

Cencoroll Connect by Jay Seaver

8 by Jay Seaver

Incredible Shrinking Wknd, The by Jay Seaver

Bloodshot by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Pieces of April
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Collin Souter

"A hilarious and truthful family snapshot"
4 stars

(SCREENED AT THE 2003 CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL) Finally, 16 years after the project begun we have finally completed the Thanksgiving Day movie trilogy! It all started back in 1987 with the John Hughes classic “Plaines, Trains and Automobiles,” then continued in 1995 with Jodie Foster’s ensemble masterpiece “Home For the Holidays.” Since then we have been waiting for the third great Thanksgiving Day movie (Sorry, Ang Lee. Though “Ice Storm” is a brilliant piece of work, it just doesn’t carry the punch necessary to make the weekend more endurable). Peter Hedges’ “Pieces of April” rounds everything out nicely and should become a holiday classic (at least in my household it will).

“Pieces of April” tells two stories that will eventually meet up. On one side, we have the young, cute April (Katie Holmes), a girl in her early twenties living on her own in a run-down apartment in New York with her boyfriend Bobby (Derek Luke). It’s Thanksgiving Day and April, for whatever reason, has decided to host. Her family will be showing up later in the afternoon and April must try and have dinner ready by the time they get there. Of course, she has never hosted anything like this before, so naturally the cranberries must come out of the can (a big no-no, unless you live in a trailer).

The other story concerns April’s family. Her mother, Joy (Patricia Clarkson), has cancer and has to stop the car every so often to relieve herself. Her doting husband, Jim (Oliver Platt), tries to keep the tone positive, even though their two teenage kids, Timmy (John Gallagher, Jr.) and Beth (Alison Pill) dread the prospect of having to drive all the way up to the city to spend Thanksgiving with the black sheep of the family. Along the way, they pick up the grandmother Dottie (Alice Drummond), who of course has no idea what’s happening (or does she?).

Like “Home For the Holidays,” “Pieces of April” gets to the roots of a dysfunctional family by using Thanksgiving as a backdrop. We go through the traditional customs of these holidays for the sole purpose of creating memories. It occurs to this family as they drive to New York that they have very few good memories about April. She got caught shoplifting, she moved out of the house as fast as she could and, from what we can see, she doesn’t seem to have grown up that much. But what we can see that her family cannot is that she has been making an effort.

Katie Holmes plays April in what could have been a Lucy skit performance. April learns a little too late that her oven might not be in the best condition to cook her turkey. Through this situation, April gets to meet those who live in her apartment complex by way of asking if she could borrow their oven for the afternoon. Holmes, while keeping her composure, proves that she can carry a movie on her own. April is a sad, but determined spirit who is stubborn about getting everything right, even if she remains flexible on the means. Miraculously, the movie never breaks into a sitcom. It remains a thoughtful, witty and dead-on portrait of a family coming to terms with its identity as one of its members faces death.

“Pieces of April” clocks in at a mere 81 minutes and warrants only one complaint: It features an annoying trend in casting an elderly actor. By having the Grandmother stereotypically vacant and senile, the movie shortchanges itself. We’ve seen this character much too often and I think there has to be more for elderly actors to do than just be a cardboard cut-out of a forgetful senior citizen. Still, “Pieces of April” is impossible to resist. The cast couldn’t be better and the relationship between April and Bobby works wonderfully. I wouldn’t have minded if the movie ran a bit longer, but I’m truly thankful for what we have nonetheless.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 09/30/03 23:17:27
[printer] printer-friendly format  
This film is available for download or online viewing at For more in the 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

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
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  17-Oct-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 24-Feb-2004



Directed by
  Peter Hedges

Written by
  Peter Hedges

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

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast