What a charming little Thanksgiving movie! Basically, April, living with her new boyfriend Bobby in a Lower East Side tenement apartment, has volunteered to make turkey, stuffing, string bean casserole and all the other classics for her disapproving, suburban New Jersey family. She's volunteered because her mothing is dying from breast cancer.
Then the oven breaks...and April's got to find a way to make dinner.
The trip from Jersey is intercut with the cooking trials at home. It's just brilliant. Oliver Platt is a tower of patience, and Patricia Clarkson as the dying mother Joy...It's hard to say who has the better role...The rest of the family is also dysfunctionally perfect.
This movie was directed (as well as written) by Peter Hedges, who wrote the screenplays for About a Boy and What's Eating Gilbert Grape, so you can imagine how great the dialog is. And it was filmed in an actual building on the Lower East Side: 176 Suffolk Street.
My favourite bit is, when the oven breaks, April desperately asks everyone in the building - mainly strangers - if she can use their oven. She tries asking an older Chinese couple, but they don't speak English. This fact is pointed out to her by reclusive Wayne (who is played to creepy perfection by Sean Hayes), who lets her use his new oven, and then holds her turkey hostage and cuts off a leg. The Chinese couple see her after she gets the one-legged turkey back from Wayne's clutches and not only let her use their oven (now understanding what she needs), but they help in a lot of other ways too...What I liked about this was...I don't know if I can explain it, but she didn't pursue the non-English speakers' help, and instead put her trust in the wrong person...just because he could understand her.
There aren't that many Thanksgiving movies, but this is a truly wonderful one.