"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.
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