Released in 2003, "Pieces Of April" is an American comedy drama film, written and directed by Peter Hedges. The plot revolves around April Burns, played by Katie Holmes, the eldest daughter of a dysfunctional family, apparently an outcast (string of bad boyfriends and rebellious attitude), and her effort to host a Thanksgiving dinner for her family. This directorial debut by Peter Hedges, although didn't fare that well at the box office but had the majority of the critics praising the director for managing to keep the story delightfully funny without losing out on portraying human emotions in a heartfelt way.
The story centers around April, living in a small tenement apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with her boyfriend Bobby, who invites over her family for Thanksgiving dinner, in order to spend some more time with her mother, Joy Burns, played by Patricia Clarkson, who has breast cancer and this probably will be her last Thanksgiving. The only problem is that April doesn't know how to cook and the family is not sure if they would come at all. It's her father, Jim Burns, played by Oliver Platt, that convinces rest of the family to go, thinking that they have an opportunity to patch things up with their daughter and should at least try.
Disaster follows when on the morning of Thanksgiving, April wakes up to find a broken oven that sends her to look for some nice neighbors who'd help her with this arduous task. Meanwhile, her family: Jim, Joy, April's siblings Beth & Timmy, and her grandmother Dottie, sets up to travel from their suburb home in Pennsylvania to New York. April does manage to find a helping couple, Eugene and Evette, who agrees to lend their working oven to April, albeit for an hour. On the other hand, her family's road trip to New York City undergoes some amusing situations: stopovers for doughnuts and bagels, Joy's frequent need to use a restroom, a burial service for an animal they hit, and constant bickering and recriminations.
At the end, April, with the use of not one, but three ovens, is able to assemble Thanksgiving dinner and her family, managing to keep its wits intact, arrives at the apartment. The graffiti painted apartment where April stays puts off Jim as he thinks that April didn't change at all even after promising, and leaves. Later on, the family stops at a restaurant where Joy sees a commotion between a mother and her daughter, at the end of which, the mother leaves the daughter in the stall. The look Joy sees in that daughter triggers something in her and they all head back at April's place to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner. At the dinner, while enjoying the meal, a lot of family pictures are taken just before the credits start to roll.
"Pieces of April" is a part road movie and part domestic comedy about a daughter's attempts to host Thanksgiving Dinner for her family.