My Favorite Thanksgiving Movie (That You’ve Never Heard Of)

pieces of april best thanksgiving movie Now is a good time to tell you about my favorite Thanksgiving movie that you’ve probably never heard of. (Not that there are many Thanksgiving films to begin with!)

Pieces of April is a gritty comedy about family dysfunction, centered around a family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Katie Holmes plays April (and this is way back in 2003 in the pre-Tom Cruise era), and she’s persuaded her family to drive in from the suburbs to her rundown shoebox of an NYC apartment for Thanksgiving dinner.

The family’s a mess. April describes herself as the family’s “first pancake”–the ruined one, the one you throw away. But her mom (Patricia Clarkson, who is always fabulous) is dying of cancer, and April is hell-bent on having a decent last Thanksgiving dinner as a family.

I’m sure many of you will hate this movie. (Feel free to leave a question in comments or email me if you’re wondering if you’d like it or not.) Pieces of April is not for kids, or for young teenagers. (There’s a little sex, some language, and her mom is dying of cancer.)  But I love it for its themes of hope and forgiveness. Some of you will love it, too.

You can rent Pieces of April from Amazon here.

If you’re looking for a Thansgiving film for family viewing, stick to Planes, Trains & Automobiles. There’s heaps of profanity in the beginning, but this Steve Martin comedy is a classic. (And hey, it’s not football!)

For all ages, I recommend A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. It lacks the brilliance of the Christmas and Halloween specials, but this Thanksgiving film is still fun family viewing on Thanksgiving Day.

Does your family watch anything special on Thanksgiving Day?

*****     *****     *****

Heads up: I’ve talked your ears off this year about Susan Cain’s brilliant book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. It’s on Kindle sale for the jaw-dropping price of $2.99 right now. Go get it while it’s cheap!

A few other great ebook deals worth mentioning:


  1. says

    Have you watched the Peanuts gang in “The Mayflower Voyagers”? It’s a bonus on our DVD copy of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”, and it orginally came from the “This is America, Charlie Brown” set. Very fun and cute version depicting when the Pilgrams came to America.

    We also have to watch “A Garfield Thanksgiving” – just because.

    And “Holiday Inn” is always a good one to throw in there as well, thanks to the “I”ve Got Plenty To Be Thankful For” song that Bing sings.

    When I was a kid, we used to watch “The Mouse on the Mayflower”, but it’s been years since that was on TV, and it’s not available on DVD (yet).

    And then there’s this short clip that our pastor showed in church a couple of years ago…he has a sense of humor. ;-)

  2. says

    I’m with the previous reviewer – I look for Garfield’s Thanksgiving every year. Nothing beats Jon’s grandma taking a chainsaw to the turkey! Lol.

    Pieces of April doesn’t sound my speed, but thanks for pointing it out. There is definitely a dearth of good Thanksgiving movies. I was thinking Facing The Giants might be a good option, though. Or maybe Eight Below (since it’s all about family, friends and reunions).

  3. says

    I actually have seen Pieces of April and I agree with your recommendation. It’s been a long time since I watched it but certain scenes stick with me.

    My cousins will inevitably turn on football. Unless the Bears are playing, I stick to hanging out with my aunts in the kitchen or playing a board game instead.

  4. says

    Pieces of April is a good one! And Katie Holmes is her perfect angsy self in it. Another great Thanksgiving movie is a relatively new one–Stuck on Love, about a family of writers. It’s excellent. Happy Thanksgiving! So thankful for your site.

  5. says

    I got Quiet even cheaper than the deal you found, Anne. The library had it. Great book, I agree. Introverts of the world unite! But not all at once … Or in large numbers … Or at all. I’ll be over here by myself, thanks.

  6. says

    I saw Pieces of April on an airplane in 2004 and I really liked it! I got my girlfriends to watch it with me again around Thanksgiving and it got mixed reviews from them but I liked it just as much as the first time. Haven’t seen it since, but I think it is definitely time to watch it again:) Thanks for the reminder!

  7. Abigail says

    I actually have heard of Pieces of April. My high school English teacher introduced it to me, and had us do in-class discussion on it! It certainly is different than you would expect, but it’s got great themes of forgiveness, redemption, and perseverance in it. And it’s got Katie Holmes, who is so lovable in this role. Glad to know there are other fans out there of Thanksgiving movies, few though they are!

  8. says

    Oh I’d forgotten about that wonderful movie! Thanks for the reminder.

    I’m taking a break from dealing with my non-gelling pumpkin pie — WHYYYYYYYY << cue from Galaxy Quest, another one of my faves.

  9. Linda says

    You for “Home for the Holidays!” This is such a funny, albeit irreverent, movie with Holly Hunter and a star-filled cast. Our family just has to watch it each year. And I totally agree with you about “Pieces of April.” I cannot help wondering what a great movie career Katie Holmes might have had….but maybe she still will.

  10. says

    Late to this but I do love that movie…I’d forgotten about it!
    That is a GREAT deal on “Quiet” but I just got my library notice that a copy is being held for me, so I guess I’ll save the $2.99.
    I always loved the Charlie Brown stuff as a kid, but reading the books to my son I realize how terrible and full of mean-ness they can be (we got one from the library where Lucy keeps moving the football and Charlie Brown keeps falling…my 2 year old didn’t quite get how this “not nice behavior” was happening with no one getting a time out)…I’m not sure how the movies are, so I’m holding off for now.

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