10 Reasons Pieces of April is the Best Thanksgiving Movie Ever
Let’s face it – as popular as Thanksgiving is, there aren’t many major films that truly revolve around the American holiday. I wanted to write a list of the best Thanksgiving films, but when I consulted a website that was definitely NOT wikipedia, I couldn’t find many that I had seen or recognized. Filmmakers seem to be only interested in Christmas…and Valentine’s Day, I guess. So, instead, I will focus on one underrated, almost forgotten, Thanksgiving gem: Pieces of April. The film is about a young woman (April) who, despite being estranged from them, decides to invite her family over to her small apartment for Thanksgiving. Trouble ensues when her oven breaks, thus she is forced to ask her neighbors to borrow theirs. Meanwhile, while on their cross country trip, the family recollects their complicated memories of a troubling teenage April. It’s a great movie and, if you haven’t already seen it, here are 10 reasons Pieces of April is the best Thanksgiving movie ever!
1. Katie Holmes
I’m ambivalent about Katie Holmes. I don’t think she’s a bad actress…but, for some reason, she’s rarely been given an opportunity to really show whatever chops she has. Pieces of April (2003) is one of her strongest performances. Throughout the film, we understand April’s undying need to create a good Thanksgiving for a family she has been estranged from. Holmes is a big reason we understand the character’s struggle.
2. Alison Pill and John Gallagher, Jr.
Before they played co-workers on Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom, they played April’s little brother and sister in this film. So, if you’re a fan of The Newsroom, particularly their characters, then…yeah…this is the movie for you!
3. Patricia Clarkson
Patricia Clarkson definitely gave the standout performance of this film. She plays cancer-stricken, overbearing mother of April. It’s a performance that’s one part depressing and two parts refreshing. Ironically, her character provides some of the film’s funniest moments. Clarkson was nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and SAG Award, losing to Renee Zellweger all three instances (in my opinion, she was robbed).
4. The Rest of the Cast
And, yes, the rest of the cast is great. From Will and Grace‘s Sean Hayes, to Tony winner Lillias White, to the always excellent Oliver Platt – they all certainly add their own thing to this great film.
5. It’s Funny
Definitely, the funniest scenes are the ones where April is frantically searching for an oven to cook her huge turkey in. Although she encounters a couple nice families who are willing to unconditionally help her, she also encounters a few bad eggs. I don’t want to give any of the punchlines away but…they’re funny.
6. There’s Some Drama
The movie is, technically, a comedy-drama, which only shows that while the film is funny, it is also grounded in reality. There are definitely moments that will make you cry and cringe and even think. So, even though the hilarious Sean Hayes makes a cameo, it’s not broad like a Will and Grace episode (that’s not to say that show isn’t hilarious, because it definitely is).
7. It’s Very Sweet
Again, I don’t want to give anything away (although this is not a film where you watch for the spoilers), but this could be a nice film to watch with the family. (OK, there’s one scene towards the beginning that’s a little risque but with some planning, you can fast forward through it).
At the center of the film is a white family, but I still think the film does a nice job with showcasing the importance of diversity and multiculturalism. Many of the families April encounters on her oven-trek are of different races. And April’s boyfriend is African American. With all the recent events, it would be nice to watch a film that celebrates our differences.
But, more than anything, the film celebrates the importance of family. And that’s what Thanksgiving is all about. There’s a reason, despite their difficult relationship, that April invites her family over…and that the family initially agrees to come. You’ll have to watch the film to see why…wink!
10. Waldorf Salad
If you want a seemingly simple recipe for a Waldorf salad (spoiler alert: involves mayonnaise) then this is the movie for you! Just kidding…clearly the 10th reason is that this is simply a well made movie, considering its $300,000 budget. Written and directed by Peter Hedges (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, About a Boy), this film is definitely created by people who know how to make good films. (But, if you’re interested, there is a recipe for Waldorf salad in the film).
In my opinion, besides anything involving Charlie Brown, there isn’t a Thanksgiving film I like more. Check it out. It deserves to go beyond “cult classic” status. Thanks for reading.