Katie Holmes, Patricia Clarkson, Oliver Platt, Derek Luke, Alison Pill, John Gallagher Jr.
April: We had these when I was a kid. The one time Joy let me hold them she said, “Be careful, they’re worth more than you are.”
Bobby: Well, that’s terrible.
April: Next year they were gone.
Bobby: So, what happened?
April: A hammer I was holding fell on them.
April (Holmes) is the black sheep of the Burns family. The “first pancake” as she says, meaning the one that’s always messed up and you’re supposed to throw out. In order to try to reconcile with them, she has invited them all to her apartment in New York for a Thanksgiving dinner. April’s mother, Joy (Clarkson) has cancer and may not be around for much longer. The drive is difficult for her physically and emotionally, and the family considers turning back multiple times. Meanwhile, April is struggling to find a working oven in her building that she can use to cook the turkey.
This is a mostly typical feel-good movie, despite all the angry and sad feelings, but it’s done quite well and features several fine performances along the way. It looks good, despite the limited locations (apartment, car…apartment…hallway…car), and the writing is witty and believable, for the most part. Some of the characters say and do things just for the sake of creating drama, but not to the extent that it gets annoying.
Even though the ending is a little too over the top with sentimentality and sudden changes of heart, I still thought it was touching and well done. Katie Holmes carries the film well and is likable beyond just the pretty eyes. In fact, it kind of left me wondering why the family dislikes her so much, but I guess we’re seeing her after she’s jettisoned many of the bad influences in her life. Her family refuses to believe that she could ever change into somebody they could be proud of, so this dinner is her one big chance to prove to them otherwise.
While it’s not a particularly important film and could have been tightened up a bit here and there, I still liked it. I enjoyed the writing, the acting, the cinematography, and the music. Didn’t love it all, but liked it. Enough that I’d watch it again. In fact, it’d make a good Thanksgiving Day movie…despite all the cancer talk.
Make sure your oven is functioning well before you need to use it to fix a big dinner.
10 – .8 for having a few lulls here and there – 1 for some character behavior that was obviously there just to drive the plot and create drama – .8 for overdoing the sentimentality at the end = 7.4