Review Date: December 21, 2003
Director: Peter Hedges
Writer: Peter Hedges
Producers: Alexis Alexanian, John Lyons
Katie Holmes as April
Patricia Clarkson as Joy
Oliver Platt as Jim
The black sheep daughter of yet another dysfunctional family invites her ailing mother, father, siblings and grandma over to her apartment for a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal with her new boyfriend. To note is that the mother and daughter never got along, the mom is dying of cancer, the daughter can't cook and the boyfriend is black. Mix, cook and serve.
I'm still not 100% sure of how I feel about this movie. I had some issues with it, as I watched, devised mental notes about what they were, but once all was said and done, the film's extremely short runtime of 75 minutes a thing of the past, I found myself weeping like a child missing his mom for days on end. It was a very weird thing. Even stranger since I was alone, drinking and still live with the folks. So was it a good movie? Well, for one...it's a film shot "on the cheap" (cost $200k to make). It feels very independent, doesn't have much in terms of production values, but doesn't require all that much either. In fact, seeing as its main focus is on the characters, the digital-video aspect of the film, which made it look grainier and more "real" than your usual Hollywood flicks, gave it that extra air of a true story...a documentary of sorts. Of course, you know it's not a documentary because the gorgeous embodiment that is Katie Holmes stars in the film and looks stunning in every shot, despite attempting to look somewhat "grunge" and "punk" (it doesn't work, honey...you're still a hottie and I didn't buy the fact that you were ever a bad girl either) The film doesn't have much of a plot either. It's basically a few hours in the life of this one girl cooking Thanksgiving dinner for her family. That's about it. In the meantime, she interacts with some of her neighbors, some of which are cute and work, and some of which are lame and don't. For example, I didn't buy Sean Hayes' character for a New York minute. It was nice to see him playing someone other than his vivacious character from TV's "Will & Grace", but what was with the slow talking and the weird looks? It felt like he was playing a character, not being a real person. Holmes' relationship with Derek Luke was nicely set up, but once he left, the back-and-forths to him were pointless.
Holmes' family, on the other hand, which half the film focuses on, were pretty good, especially Patricia Clarkson, whose character had obvious hardships to overcome and sounded off in various ways (mostly...bad) I didn't buy her relationship with Oliver Platt though, her apparent husband in the film. My God, this couple was supposed to have been married over 20 years?? First off, it felt like she was his mom and secondly, could these two people have been further apart in terms of personality or chemistry? I didn't buy them as a couple, but both actors were good, so their side of the story was interesting to follow. Of course, the whole build-up to the movie works toward the final meeting and despite feeling a little contrived near the end, it obviously worked on me since I chose that time to moisten the insides of my eyes. Overall, the film was an easy watch, definitely works as a "Thanksgiving" and "appreciate every day that you have with your family" picture and delivers a couple of nice performances (and no, I'm not talking about Holmes' monster breasts-although now that you mention it...they were pretty sweet as well!) Not a perfect film that runs a little too short and should have had a little more meat on its plate, but a different kind of movie that will likely entice those looking for something indie and character-driven. If you want to see a greater, more developed, character-driven and culturally diverse Thanksgiving movie though, check out WHAT'S COOKING and thank me later. Gobble-gobble.
(c) 2015 Berge Garabedian