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Movie Review: Pieces of April

Alternate Title: O'er the river and thru the woods to the Lower East Side we go!

Story: It took me a while to see this wonderful little film and I am glad that I finally did. Yes, it is another movie about Thanksgiving and it fills the holiday bill.

Screenwriter and director Peter Hedges (author of What's Eating Gilbert Grape and About a Boy) delivers a holiday film about a dysfunctional family, terminal illness, the desperate need for reconciliation and throws in a smidgen of racism. Yet, he manages to give these often seen themes a bit of newness in an old recipe.

There are lots of laughs as a suburban family drives to Thanksgiving dinner at the errant older daughter's apartment, who lives on the Lower East Side. The urgency for this visit is that the mother is dying of cancer and it might be the last time they get together as a family. I know it sounds grim, but trust me, it is a wonderful family film that will bring you lots of smiles.

We meet and chuckle with a cast of New York characters who I would love to have at my next Thanksgiving table, too.

Acting: TV's Katie Homes is adorable as the black sheep daughter. Patricia Clarkson is terrific, as always, as the cancer ridden mother. Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher) is sweet and loving as the very understanding boyfriend. Oliver Platt as Dad, the family conciliator is terrific and the supporting cast members are all perfect.

Predilection: None.

Critters: Dogs.

Food: Lots and lots of typical Thanksgiving items. Food, of course is nourishment at Thanksgiving but it turns out that love gives a soul even more needed nourishment.

Visual Art: Lots of wonderful details in the various artworks shown in each ethnic apartment.

Blatant Product Placement: Krispy Kreme.

Soundtrack: Fun.

Theater Audience: A few other folks and the three of us. This film has been out for several months and I was surprised to see anyone else at all in the theater.

Sappy Factor: The ending is somewhat expected -- and oh so nice.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: A few sentimental holiday tears welled up.

Oscar Worthy: Patricia Clarkson has been nominated for a Golden Globe for this performance.

Nit Picking: The digital camera is sometimes too jiggly. This film was made for under $175,000 and sold at Sundance for $3.5 million. Maybe his next film will be made of better quality film stock.

Big Screen or Rental: Rental would be fine. For some other films that feature Thanksgiving at the core, try: Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Hannah and her Sisters, The House of Yes, The Ice Storm, Myth of Fingerprints, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Scent of a Woman, Tadpole and What's Cooking?

Length: 90 delicious minutes.