Pieces Of April

"OK"

Pieces Of April Review


"Pieces of April" is a Murphy's-Law Thanksgiving comedy in which both the meal and the movie have a hard time coming together.

Saddled with a handful of sitcomy plot contrivances that leave it struggling with its own mediocrity, the film's quirkiness never quite evolves into cleverness as it follows a pretty young punkette (Katie Holmes) through a day of near-disasters, and her uneasy suburban family on their long, reluctant car trip to her graffiti-encrusted Lower East Side walk-up for what they're sure will be a calamity of a holiday meal with their absconded black sheep.

While the nervous, habitually irresponsible April (Holmes) is banging on doors and meeting eccentric, snooty and non-English-speaking neighbors in a desperate search for a working oven (her own had served only as a cabinet until this morning, when she discovered it was dead), the girl's mom (Patricia Clarkson), dad (Oliver Platt), grandma (Alice Drummond) and teenage siblings are squeezed into a station wagon and getting on each other's last nerves.

Writer and first-time director Peter Hedges ("What's Eating Gilbert Grape?") has an good ear for the humorous dynamics of family dysfunction, capturing both April's short-fuse consternation over this rite of passage and her family's feelings of obligation that battle their acute aversion to pretty much everything that has to do with April. "All I can remember was the shoplifting, the fire in the kitchen, the drugs, the ingratitude," her mother gripes, adding ironically that "She bit my nipples whenever I tried to breast feed her."

Although some of that statement is hard to buy since Holmes seems like such a softie, the entire cast does a sublime job of finding comedy in their very real tension, which is exacerbated by the devil-may-care sense of humor Mom has developed as her body has been ravaged by breast cancer. But too often Hedges over-directs (in one scene it's patently obvious that Holmes has been instructed exactly when to pause mid-sentence to sip a drink) and he pads the 81-minute film with elements that feel forced and underwritten.

Why is April's boyfriend (Derek Luke) out shopping (at a closed Salvation Army with a friend who has the key) for a suit to wear to dinner on Thanksgiving Day? Why does April force a whole background story on every neighbor she approaches instead of just saying, "Are you using your oven today? Mine's broken and my family is coming." And why are some of those neighbors such ill-conceived clichés -- like the lapdog-petting, sweater-vest-and-watch-chain-wearing, effeminate, mock-erudite snoot so badly affected by "Will and Grace's" Sean Hayes?

The movie's heart is in the right place and its central characters are real enough that Hedges isn't afraid to make them a little hard to like -- especially April who is on the awkward cusp of adulthood but has the lingering ungratefulness of a self-centered child, even toward her more helpful neighbors. But with its strained satirical cuteness, its clumsy embellishments (which get worse toward the end) and its sophomoric overuse of in-camera visual gimmicks (overexposure, perspective-cam) this bird just tastes a little undercooked.



Pieces Of April

Facts and Figures

Run time: 80 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 19th February 2004

Box Office USA: $2.3M

Budget: $300 thousand

Distributed by: United Artists

Production compaines: Kalkaska Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Fresh: 124 Rotten: 23

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as April, as Bobby, as Joy Burns, as Jim Burns, as Beth Burns, as Timmy Burns, as Grandma Dottie, as Evette, Isiah Whitlock, Jr. as Eugene

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.